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DSRO–From defense to offense during times of disruption


I was one of four panelists in the International Congress and Convention Association’s (ICCA) recently-held webinar, “Global insights from Association Leaders—Change to Succeed.” I represented the Asia-Pacific region in my capacity as president of the Asia-Pacific Federation of Association Organizations (Apfao) and founder and CEO of the Philippine Council of Associations and Association Executives (Pcaae).

With me were: Greta Kotler, chief global development and credentialing officer of the American Society of Association Executives (Asae); Giuseppe Marletta, president of the European Society of Association Executives (Esae); and, Jeffers Miruka, president of the African Society of Association Executives (Afsae). A total of 469 registrants from 61 countries worldwide registered for the event.

Andy Bailey, founder of leading US business coaching firm Petra Coach, who used his DSRO planning framework as the structure of the program, facilitated the session. DSRO stands for Defense, Stabilize, Reset and Offense.

Defense: Identifying actionable safeguards to put in place a solid foundation to build upon.

Considerations: 1) physical aspects (What is the process of shutting down operations and safely moving employees to a remote workplace?); 2) meeting rhythms (How will connection be with everyone in a virtual environment?); 3) information access (What employees are single holders of information that if they become ill would place risk on the business?); 4) virtual considerations (What needs to happen with technology or processes to move to a full virtual environment?); and, 5) financial relationships and cash management (How quickly can contact with key banking relationships be established and  review of expenses be made to conserve cash in the short run?)

Stabilize: Communicating with everyone, internally with teams and externally with members.

Considerations: 1) company culture (Who is the ‘culture warrior’ during these times and is keeping the workforce in harmony?); 2) emotional and family support (Which employees and families have fallen on hard times or need help managing family situations to be able to work?); 3) team retention (How can connection remain with those furloughed or laid off so they are not lost?); 4) relief (What government relief is helpful to manage through this crisis?); and, 5) member engagement (What communication rhythms and strategies are there to connect with members?)

Reset: Gaining ground to begin re-prioritizing and gearing up before going all out to offense.

Considerations: 1) personnel management (What is the restart date and what essential employees must return first?); 2) restart plan (What is the  plan for the first 30 days, and does it include scenarios if things change?); 3) physical aspects (Does the office have to be redesigned, do employees need PPE, and is there a need to adopt new cleaning protocols?); 4) policies and procedures (What are new operating policies for interaction with employees, members and guests?); and, 5) virtual sales (What is needed to continue selling in a virtual capacity?)

Offense: Putting findings and ideas into a concrete action plan, complete with key performance indicators.

Considerations: 1) hiring (What positioning is needed to take advantage of talent that becomes available?); 2) employee development (What is needed to groom personnel for training and development?); 3) market strategy (Where can you pivot and what new opportunities are available?); 4) acquisition/merger (Are there organizations worth pursuing/merging for complementation?); and, 5) contracts (What contracts could be renegotiated?)

In what stage in the DSRO framework is your association now?

The column contributor, Octavio “Bobby” Peralta, is concurrently the secretary-general of the Association of Development Financing Institutions in Asia and the Pacific and the Founder and CEO of the Philippine Council of Associations and Association Executives. The Pcaae is holding the Associations Summit 8 on November 25 and 26, 2020 at the Philippine International Convention Center which is expected to draw over 200 association professionals here and abroad. The two-day event is supported by the Adfiap, the Tourism Promotions Board and the PICC. E-mail [email protected] for more details on AS8.

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