Knowledge-based associations have best chance of sustaining success

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What do romance writers, dentists, and veterinarians all have in common? They are but three of approximately 260,000 groups in North America that have organized member associations. According to Bud Crouch, president of Innovations Plus, Langhorne, Pa, a knowledge-based association has the best chance for growth and success.

Crouch spoke to students, state VMA representatives, and practitioners — many of them recent graduates — Jan 8 at the Hotel Intercontinental during the AVMA Veterinary Leadership Conference in Chicago.

During the course of his daylong seminar, Creating a Knowledge-based Organization, Crouch said an association must have a nimble infrastructure (eg, committees, staff) and must be fluid, flexible, and responsive to the needs of its members.

"An association must have a reputation for value and benefits that will attract and keep members," Crouch said.

He said associations are moving toward putting more value on intense, effective communication. They are evolving from operating with traditional political models of decision making to models based on information and insight.

To develop accurate information, Crouch said organizations should have sensitivity to members' views; foresight about the industry, profession, or issue area; insight into capacity and strategic position, and awareness of ethical implications.

"In a knowledge-based organization, who the decision maker is, is far less important than the quality of information and insight on which the decision is based," Crouch said.

Many recent graduates were in the audience, and Crouch was encouraged by their strong presence at the conference. Calling them "the water upstream," he said recent graduates represent potential leadership in veterinary associations. He believes encouraging recent graduates to get involved in their association's committees can ensure the future of successful organizations.

The AVMA and Bayer Animal Health paid for a recent graduate (within the previous seven years) from each organization represented in the House of Delegates to attend the leadership conference. The 52 recent graduates who attended represented most of the state VMAs and allied groups.