Posted on 1/26/2015 1:38:58 PM By Matt Croson

There are many ways to talk about change.  Change is the only constant; learning to manage change is the key to success, often a required business school class.  One of my favorite change oriented, motivating quotes is from former GE CEO Jack Welch:  “If the rate of change on the outside exceeds the rate of change on the inside, the end is near.”

I feel this quote is at the heart of why change is so important.  If your company didn’t change anything, would you still be around?  Would your customers still value you the way they did when they first used your product? 

Associations are compared in the same manner.  If ASC wasn’t shifting with the changing needs of this dynamic industry, would the leading trade association serving the global, $43+ billion adhesives and sealants market continue to be relevant? 

ASC manages change in two ways:  One—a formal Long Range Plan process and two—an internal change program we call the 1.5 change theory.

1. ASC’s Long Range Plan Process

ASC took the input of 404 completed surveys (a 4% return), added 21 hour-long interviews with leaders, held a series of face-to-face meetings, and in one year, completed a Long Range Planning process that is resulting in CONSIDERABLE change for the Council and the programs we deliver. 

Over the next three years, ASC members will see important changes to the value proposition we deliver to the industry.  We will:

  • Deliver a certificate program for new employees at our member companies that will allow them to develop the fundamental knowledge they need to succeed.  We want companies to leverage this program for every single new employee they hire.  Gaining a certificate in adhesives and sealants will ensure they are ready to discuss technical challenges with customers and be a strong value-added component to the Council’s robust training programs.
  • Publish new market reports covering core technologies, with insights from customers.  We want our reports to be more than just a summary of data; we are focusing them on “the customer voice” and gaining insights into what their needs and concerns are in order for members to deliver innovation to meet current and future demand.
  • Grow our EXPO to include the full range of materials suppliers and equipment companies that any formulator needs to partner with in order to deliver innovation to customers.
  • Fly into Washington with leaders from our industry and meet one-on-one with Senators, Representatives and other Administration officials in order to demonstrate and articulate how the legislation they are considering impacts the industry at large. 
  • Develop a Growth Program that tackles emerging markets with a comprehensive marketing plan that allows member companies to leverage the power of ASC to promote our industry, and educate downstream customers on the value we deliver.

The Long Range Plan will ensure that ASC CHANGES as it transitions from being just the two Conventions and Short Courses it offers each year, to delivering value to many facets of our member company organizations throughout the year.

This change approach is member driven and ensures we are responding to the issues and challenges facing members.  However, trade associations can still get stuck in a “no change” pattern with current programming, and that brings us to the second change effort at ASC.    

2. 1.5 Changes Theory

The other aspect of change we have at ASC is an internal program that forces staff to consider what we are doing for members and discuss how to change the programs to deliver new value or stronger value.  This program is what I call the “1.5 Changes Theory.”

The basic theory is that the ASC team tries to change one and a half things—on average—a year to a program or service we deliver.  The idea is to force the team to not just do what we did last year, but consider our audience, what their needs are, and CHANGE something if we feel it could add value.

What were the 1.5 changes we’ve tried over the past few years?

  • We added the “Speed Networking” event at the Convention
  • We developed the Convention APP to connect attendees and streamline planning
  • We held a Sustainability Forum to discuss emerging trends in this space
  • We transitioned our “generic webinars” to a “Training Academy,” which are more technical
  • We published our first “Issues Brief” which outlines the 7-8 issues we actively manage
  • We launched the Action Center, giving members a “grass roots” advocacy opportunity
  • We overhauled and to include engagement tools and make the website accessible on a variety of mobile devices.
  • We created a new advocacy dashboard to connect members directly to issues that matter

In short, we are creating a culture of CHANGE at ASC in order to keep up with our members who are constantly managing change.  We want to ensure we remain relevant to our core members by making sure they don’t ever say, “I don’t need to attend that; it really hasn’t changed at all.”

Why do we have such a commitment to change at ASC?  Because of another great quote from Welch:  “Change before you have to.”  The ASC Board and leaders that brought about tremendous change via the Long Range Plan, as well as the staff that continues to change current programming – don’t want to be “behind the 8-ball” and find out change is too late.  We have people and processes that force us to change what we know needs to be adjusted, at quickly as we learn about the need.

What 1.5 things are you changing this year to ensure value?

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