Belatedly and convulsively

The opening keynote for ASAE‘s annual meeting, Gary Hamel, talked yesterday about the mental models that block our ability to adapt. I particularly liked his characterization of how organizational change occurs: “belatedly and convulsively, like political change in a third-world dictatorship.”

He also described the typical cycle that leads to belated change: dismissing the new phenomena; rationalizing away its impact; taking steps to mitigate its impact on the existing model; and finally confronting the need to adapt, perhaps radically. Given the relative pace of change, the cycles for coping and adapting also need to accelerate.

After listening to Hamel, who toward the end of his talk called for “distributed intelligence”, I walked the show floor and met with some of the many vendors selling proprietary software for membership management, content management, social media and other engagement platforms. It may be a broad brush, but they seemed entirely focused on solving problems that have sprung up as associations try to marry their old models to new, perhaps entirely different needs.

It’s hard for me to imagine that, in five years (easily the time required to evaluate, install, roll out and amortize an enterprise system), associations will be looking for proprietary platforms that solve a narrow set of needs. It’s debatable that the platforms will even be centrally managed. I’d walked the show floor thinking I’d find solutions, and I left thinking I’d seen a cross-sections of symptoms of the larger problem.

About Brian O'Leary

Founder and principal of Magellan Media Consulting, Brian O’Leary helps enterprises with media and publishing components capitalize on the power of content. A veteran of more than 30 years in the publishing industry and a prolific content producer himself, Brian leverages the breadth and depth of his experience to deliver innovative content solutions.

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