Anonymous asked Shelly Alcorn, CAE, 1/23/2017 12:13:16 PM

Are professional associations built to last? What will they look like in the next few decades?

1/25/2017 7:23:38 PM,
Shelly Alcorn, CAE replied:
Yes. Associations exist to serve groups of individuals who are involved in specific vocational and avocational activities. As long as you reside in a democratic society, employment still exists (the rise of automation notwithstanding) and/or hobbies and social causes of importance exist as well - you will find "associations" forming. Even if we stop calling them "associations' the functions will remain. People are still fundamentally people and we have been gathering in groups to discuss matters of interest since we began to use language. (I am certain there were a few folks sitting around a campfire back near the beginning of history discussing where to find the best wildebeast and which rocks make the best stone tools.)

I'm not saying the next few years will be easy. Those associations who cannot seem to adjust to the wave of artificial intelligence that is about to break over us, or who fail to find their footing in a world that is rapidly advancing will fall by the wayside. (Every association should read Kevin Kelly's new book: The Inevitable - Understanding the Twelve Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future.) For each association that does fly into the mountain - another one will arise a few years later that will be on a better, more innovative footing to carry on. (That is - as long as we live in a democratic society that holds the First Amendment sacrosanct).

If you really want to get in-depth as to what the sociological underpinnings of associations are, I recommend reading Human Ecology by Amos Hawley. It's dense but it provides a comprehensive look at how social groups naturally form as long as the societal conditions exist that allow them to. Take heart - associations will actually "look" the same (networking and education are the keys) but how they communicate and deliver services will be very, very different. Virtual reality anyone?