The Lesson of Speed

by Donna Oser

Hope is in the air, and it feels so good. With offices reopening and restrictions lifting, it seems the end of this prolonged crisis is in sight. However, the future remains unknown, and in our eagerness to regain some sense of normality, we mustn’t let a central lesson be lost. 

Think about how many changes associations (and our members) had to make throughout the crisis, many of which were in the first 30 days of the crisis. To thrive in a future of disruptive change and considerable uncertainty, associations must embrace speed as a core value and do the necessary work to incorporate it into our organizational DNA. 

Here are a few factors for association leaders to examine as they seek to get faster at anticipating and responding to change:

  • Decision-making. Governance and operational decision-making processes need to allow association leadership to analyze circumstances, model scenarios, and act with purpose – all in as timely a manner as possible. 
  • Structures. Flatter, less complex structures allow for quicker communication, greater collaboration, and faster implementation.
  • Delegation. Developing organizational speed requires that responsibility and workload are distributed in such a way as to avoid log jams and maintain velocity. 
  • Implementation. Turning plans into results is a core competency. The pandemic taught us that the speed at which we create those results matters to our members, associations, and society. 
  • Monitoring. Quality need not be sacrificed for speed. Incorporating mechanisms for monitoring progress and quality into the implementation and management plans of products and services positions associations for continuous improvement. 
  • Learning. An emphasis on speed requires that associations be true learning organizations. Leaders, staff, and volunteers need to be continually developing new competencies and different skills. Learning enables organizations to better anticipate and respond to change and make necessary adjustments based on the data gleaned during monitoring. 

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