Recently, a participant in the CEO Symposium asked me a question about starting a project to analyze their chapter structure, its cost to the association and, basically, whether or not it was worth their investment. For associations with chapters or components, this is an important question to answer. To successfully approach a project like this, the relationship between national and chapters has to be approached as a collaboration to deliver value to members – not a competition.
If the relationship discussion is approached as a competition and not a collaboration, little of real value to a member tends to be achieved. If change is heavy handed in design or implementation tensions are exacerbated, sides are staked out, and the association’s energy is consumed by internal politics rather than focused externally on fulfilling its mission.
Both national and components share and serve the same membership or field. Relationships should be based on what can optimize the value to a member.
The cost and accounting dimension of the issue is best addressed after clarification of roles in providing value. If you start with numbers, anxiety over winners and losers permeates the conversation. Little change of value to a member is likely and the relationship can be left in worse shape than where it started.
For national and chapters to have a successful partnership to serve its members and fulfill its mission, they must have:
- Clarity and consensus about what will constitute success.
- Clarity of roles and responsibilities.
- Confidence in the competence of your partners.
- Knowledge based decision-making; integrating strategic planning and strategic thinking.
Once these four things have been achieved, then the most cost effective and productive way to achieve success will not viewed as a competition for limited resources.
Next week, we will explore the importance of trust and transparency.