ASQ - Team and Workplace Excellence Forum

Online Edition - July 2002


 In This Issue...
The Role of Quality and Teams in the 21st Century

The Way They Saw It

Where Have We Been? Where Are We Going?

Book Nook

From Our Perspective

What’s Up?


  Return to NFC Index

Book Nook

Exploring the Future: Seven Strategic Conversations That Could Transform Your Association
by Robert L. Olson and Atul Dighe
American Society of Association Executives, Washington, DC, 2001
ISBN 0-88034-198-X
Softcover, 179 pages

Quickly name five organizations with which you associate. If you are like most people, constructing such a list should be easy. Mankind is gregarious, and we have created many different kinds of groups to meet our social needs. These groups range from employers and religious organizations to professional associations, PTAs, hobby groups, athletic teams, political committees, environmental action groups, support groups of many kinds, and others. This month’s book focuses on what leaders can do to help their organizations remain vital in the future.

Exploring the Future: Seven Strategic Conversations That Could Transform Your Association is a highly readable and interesting book for anyone in a leadership role in almost any kind of organization. It identifies seven trends that are likely to impact your group’s ability to attract and involve members and provides a concise discussion of each trend along with practical ideas for what can be done. These trends (and a few relevant quotes) are:

  1. Meaning matters
    “Amid the chaos of rapid change, meaning and purpose are the enduring qualities that attract and retain members.”
  2. Global + Local = Glocal
    “‘Glocalization’ is a term that describes how many aspects of life are becoming more global and more local at the same time.”
  3. Inclusivity
    We need to “shift from assimilating differences to raising awareness of differences, valuing them, and making use of them.”
  4. Generational synergy
    “Each generation has contributions to make.”
  5. Learning culture
    “The ability to learn is the single most important skill individuals and organizations need to thrive amid rapid change.”
  6. Transparency
    “Demands for greater openness and accountability are growing rapidly.”
  7. Living organizations
    Organizations need to be viewed as “living systems able to self-organize and adapt to change.”

Each of the seven main chapters has a variety of exercises, case examples, and questions to generate conversation about the future. Appendices include an extensive listing of resources for further exploration, a glossary, several interesting group exercises, and background on the online community that resulted in the book.

The book is targeted for members of the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE). Produced under sponsorship of the ASAE Foundation by two members of the Institute for Alternative Futures, its primary focus is the world of nonprofit associations. But, to the extent that other types of organizations face similar challenges, members of most groups can benefit from what the authors have to say. Leaders will find provocative ideas that could change how their organizations function. Other members will get a glimpse of where the future is taking them and may be inspired to communicate this vision to their leaders.

My favorite quote is found on p. 60: “We are increasingly faced with infoglut—a deluge of information that can obscure valuable, meaningful knowledge. What’s important gets lost in the sheer volume of information available.” This book is definitely not infoglut. Rather, it provides an engaging structure for organizing information about the future into actionable learning. I highly recommend it.

CHRISTINE ROBINSON has more than 25 years of leadership experience in quality systems for the process industries. She has a master’s degree in quality, values, and leadership from Marian College. An avid reader, she spends a significant amount of her time with her nose in books and her body at the library.

Book Ratings:

***** = Pick it up today
  **** = Overnight it
*** = Snail mail it
** = At a library?

        * = Never mind

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