• ESAE

Agile Associations Post-Pandemic

Associations are rarely cited as examples of innovation, agility, and adaptability. While this may be an unfair assessment, there are some that truly need a push to tip over to the brighter side. The global pandemic offered that boost. But how can associations keep innovation as part of their DNA in a post-pandemic world?

COVID-19 proved to be the best catalyst for associations stuck in their innovation cycles. Internal politics and ever-changing boards often did not permit societies to spread their wings and soar. And while pandemic-related challenges have made growth questionable, most associations have been able to adapt their strategy and flourish through newly developed activities. Now the question remains – how to keep that drive to innovate in the post-pandemic world that we are nearing?


Preparing for what is to come must be rooted in a strong strategy. So strong that it becomes embedded to the core of what the organisation stands for. It must withstand the test of time and changing leadership interests. One that is tied to connecting meaningfully with members and supporting them in becoming the best in their field.


Different people have different ways of interacting online and offline, so these differences have to be accounted for in this highly personalised world. To remain competitive and relevant into the future, associations must be prepared to spend the needed time and resources on uniting their communities into a space where collaboration flourishes.


For those unlucky few that started building their communities right before the pandemic hit the good news is that our future includes in-person connections. Agile associations of the future will integrate the online and offline worlds into their own fabricated spaces that will nurture fruitful, year-round knowledge exchange, and the development of their members.


To deliver on that promise, technology – a wild card that many resisted – has to be played right and often. Having the built-in innovation drive the association’s guiding principles, strategy, and board structures, it will become a natural extension of what the society is set out to do.


Visual content and adaptable formats will continue to support online education, where shrinking attention-spans require constant improvements in how the information is delivered. The same remains true for in-person interactions. Their exclusivity in a post-pandemic world will require that the content be better than ever before, presented in a way that is engaging, fun, and easily digestible – a rival production to a Hollywood movie.


Agile associations will base their decisions on firm data. The learner experience, even when it spills into the offline world, will be better tracked. Members will be fully supportive of the collection of information from associations which try to enhance their experiences and career growth. These insights can be used to finetune the association’s strategy and highlight what drives engagement.


The future advantage in a post-pandemic world will be given to those most agile, with a commitment to innovation, that is rooted in their strategy and operation and always updated with the support of data. Fortune favours the bold, the saying goes. And those that don’t waste time but use the current opportunity to set themselves for future success.

The article, written by Diana van Brakel, Senior Manager Continuing Education, Kenes Group, was originally published by our partners at Boardroom Magazine.