Leveraging the ‘3Ds’ in associations


3D is the abbreviated form for three dimensional. In geometry, a three-dimensional shape is a solid figure or object that has width, height and depth.

The 3D I am writing about is not about geometry or about computers, but on the “3Ds” that associations have been living by all these years and yet somehow been neglected or forgotten. The pandemic, however, has brought back these “3Ds” into the consciousness of associations. I am referring to the following “3Ds”:

1. Dedication to purpose.

Purpose strikes at the very core of an association’s raison d’etre and answers these basic questions: “Why do you do what you do?”, “Why do you exist?” and “Why do you serve your cause?” So purpose is the beacon that guides your association and answers the “Why?”

In a multi-year research entitled “7 Measures of Success: What Remarkable Associations Do That Others Don’t,” one of the attributes of success is the alignment of member services to purpose. According to the study done a decade ago by the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE), service offerings of successful associations have been consistent with their purpose and have remained central and unchanging even in the midst of changes in the external environment.

2. Delivery of value.

There are at least four value propositions an association provides its members:

Learning, i.e., education (training programs, conferences, etc.) and certification programs;

Knowledge, in the form of publications such as bulletins, newsletters, journals, books, and magazines, as well as other content from website, surveys and research studies;

Community, in terms of special interest groups, professional sections, online and offline networking, benchmarking and best practices, volunteering opportunities in committees, councils and  task forces; and,

Advocacy, i.e., lobbying, formulating policy positions, providing testimonies and specialized information.

Delivering these values with exceptional content and experiences provide impetus to the sustainability of the association.

3. Digital savviness.

Long before digital transformation in organizations became in vogue, leading associations have already embraced and embedded digital technology solutions into their operations and service delivery systems. Others that have put theirs in the back burner are now slowly accelerating digitalization because of the pandemic. Digitalization can be in:

Business models (transforming the way you sell, e.g., e-commerce);

Processes (using IT to improve productivity and efficiency, e.g., workflows, process integration);

Data (acquiring, integrating and using of data, e.g., data analytics);

Cost reduction (reducing costs with digital ways of doing things, e.g., automation, e-procurement);

Marketing (using digital tools to promote, sell and market, e.g. CRM, social media marketing, digital advertising);

Knowledge (capturing knowledge through digital tools, e.g., content management, LMS); and,

Communication (using digital communication tools for internal and external communication, e.g., audio and video conferencing, virtual workplaces).

3D is a lifelike representation of a person or a thing while the “3Ds” above represent and embody the life of the association.

The column contributor, Octavio Peralta, is Founder and CEO of the Philippine Council of Associations and Association Executives. The PCAAE is holding the Associations Summit 9 (AS9) on November 24 and 25, 2021. The two-day virtual event is supported by the Tourism Promotions Board. E-mail inquiries@adfiap.org for more details on AS9.

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