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Priority Pivot


It has been a year since the pandemic flipped the script on the business of associations. With the loss of face-to-face events, income, member engagement and strategic momentum, it can be hard to focus on what we gained — permission to intentionally focus on mission.

Associations start with a specific intent. Over the course of an association’s lifecycle, an organization expands and sometimes mission is lost through the increased management of “support” activities.

With the limitation of time and resources, the pandemic is allowing leaders an opportunity to get back to basics.

Ask these key questions:

  1. What is our focus? Limit your priorities to three or fewer and define metrics.
  2. What are we NOT going to do at this time? This list should be longer than your focus/priority list.
  3. How will we address conflicting or new priorities? Determine who is delegated to evaluate conflicting and new priorities as they crop up. This may be the whole board or the executive committee.
  4. When will we readdress and evaluate these decisions? Hold everyone accountable by establishing checkpoints for conversation.
  5. Where to these decisions fit into the strategic plan? Hint: Chances are, they don’t! This doesn’t mean your plan is bad, but it does mean you need a new plan to address the future. The staff and board should work together to determine the best time for a strategic plan refresh.

Associations are critical in rebuilding the post-pandemic economy, workforce and society. Likewise, association leaders are uniquely qualified to adapt, adjust and embrace change. Are you ready to refocus? Let’s explore how our team can assist.

This post is adapted from “Priority Pivot: Adapting Strategic Plan During a Pandemic” presented by Heather Tamminga, CAE, and Molly Lopez, CAE, in May 2020 as part of the MC Thrive Conference and again in May 2020 for the AMC Institute.

Priority Pivot