take to rebound from a difficult economy, there are key ways to approach the
development of a new strategy, whether
your organization is a professional society
or trade association, large or small, local
Reexamine your program development
Associations must think about their
education products differently and
reevaluate the process by which they
plan, execute and evaluate education.
Committee structures that weigh down
product development cycle times will
be a liability in this brave new world.
Consider looking at any and all existing
structures — staff, committee or other.
Re-engineer in a way that will make
your association nimble enough to plan
and react within the fast-moving environ-
ment in which you operate. “Nimble”
may replace “process” as the way we
Develop an education needs assess-
All bets are off for anticipating the future,
so now is the time to conduct a needs
assessment specifically related to educa-
tion and professional development. Even
if your 2010 program lineup is final,
being armed with the right information
about your members’ needs always
should be a priority. It is never too late
to alter your course of action, or to better
plan program execution based on what
you learn. This does not mean breaking
hotel contracts or planning for expensive
and unbudgeted innovations that will
put your organization at financial risk.
Rather, it means incorporating what you
learn into your program lineup. For exam-
ple, should you learn your participants
want more interaction with one another,
don’t just book a reception; think about
ways to engage them during their edu-
cational experience. Schedule a “world
café,” creating an intimate, forum-like
setting during the program with a group
of their peers. Again, your ability to be
nimble should supersede any rigidity in
feeling tied to predetermined plans.
Not only should your education needs
assessment ask about previous buying
behavior and what members want and
need for the future, but also about their
direct points of pain. It is not up to the
member to determine the length of the
seminar or whether it should be delivered
through a webinar format. It is the association’s job to know the membership
and opportunities well enough to marry
the two in a way that makes them attractive to members, as well as financially
viable for the association. By asking the
right questions and fully understanding
your audience, you will then be able to
take what you know about members’ needs
and concerns and create the appropriate
program for the appropriate audience.
AAOMS conducted two needs assessments this year to determine how the economy was affecting members’ practices,
Choyke says. AAOMS used this information to readily identify its members’ most
pressing needs, and address those areas
with new products and services.
Clearly understand how member demographics relate to program needs.
Having a keen sense of the association’s
demographics is often something that is
lost in the shuffle. Associations feel they
know their membership, but may not
know what distinct sectors of the membership want and need.