I read with keen interest a recent study published in the McKinsey newsletter entitled, “The State of Organizations 2023: Ten Shifts Transforming Organizations” by Patrick Guggenberger, Dana Maor, Michael Park and Patrick Simon.
Out of the ten most significant shifts facing organizations today outlined in the study, six could resonate with associations:
1. Efficiency reloaded. More than a third of leaders in the study list efficiency as a top-three organizational priority. Boosting efficiency is about more than managing immediate crises or getting the same work done with fewer resources. It means more effectively deploying resources to where they matter most. Many associations do not have the luxury of large fund reserves and, thus, it is essential they use these lean resources to where they matter most to their members.
2. Leadership that is self-aware and inspiring. Leaders today need to be able to lead themselves, lead a team of peers in the C-suite and exhibit the leadership skills and mindset required to lead at scale, coordinating and inspiring networks of teams. To do this, they must build a keen awareness of both themselves and the operating environments around them. Association leaders are in the same vein: they need to be conscious of their own actuations toward themselves, their organizations and members, their key stakeholders.
3. Walking the talent tightrope. Business leaders have long walked a talent tightrope, i.e., carefully balancing budgets while retaining key people. In today’s uncertain economic climate, they need to focus more on matching top talent to the highest-value roles. McKinsey research shows that between 20 percent and 30 percent of critical roles in many organizations are not filled by the most appropriate people. Associations also suffer from recruiting and retaining talent, especially during the pandemic. As such, they have instituted ways to adopt to the situation through people reskilling and upskilling.
4. “True hybrid.” Since the Covid-19 pandemic, about 90 percent of organizations have embraced a range of hybrid work models that allow employees to work from offsite locations for some or much of the time. It’s important that organizations provide structure and support around the activities best done in person or remotely. Associations are similarly situated. Anecdotal information reveals that associations currently employ anywhere from full work-from-home arrangements to three days or four days in office and a day or two for remote work.
5. Making way for applied AI. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is more than just a potential opportunity to boost a company’s operations; it can also be used to build better organizations. Companies are already using AI to create sustainable talent pipelines, drastically improve ways of working and make faster, data-driven structural changes. Associations have been known to be slow in adapting to new technologies but progressive and well-funded associations have been leading the way in using AI in their operations.
6. Increasing speed, strengthening resilience. Half of the respondents in the survey say their organization is unprepared to react to future shocks. Those able to bounce forward and quickly out of several crises may gain significant advantages over others. Associations are also catching up fast to being more agile and flexible in the way they do things.
Octavio Peralta is currently the executive director of the Global Compact Network Philippines and founder and volunteer CEO of the Philippine Council of Associations and Association Executives, the “association of associations.” E-mail: email@example.com.