Every decade brings a raft of the latest catch phrases and expressions du jour.  About twenty years ago, among the expressions that circulated through conferences, business circles, news outlets etc. were paradigm shift, ROI and “thinking outside the box”.  We heard them ad nauseam.

This cycle has brought a new round, starting with disruption and pivoting.  There is no question that this cycle was precipitated by COVID-19, but I would postulate that COVID-19 was the disrupter and that hasn’t necessarily been a bad thing.  Just as scientists had to move with incredible speed to come up with a vaccine to treat a hitherto vaguely known disease (SARS-related), the not-for-profit world has had to come up with new methodologies to function with great efficiency and effectiveness under very trying circumstances.

The ubiquitous word “pivot” is incorrect in the association world.  To pivot means to be anchored in one place and turn around a pivot point.  This was not what the NFP and association world has done.  In fact, many of the things that Base clients are experiencing are things that were already taking place.  Asynchronous learning was undertaken using existing platforms long before COVID.  We called it “webinars on demand”.  Working from a remote location using a remote desktop was work that we routinely did on offsite events around the world.  Online meetings through platforms like  Zoom and WebEx were well in place.

So pivoting was not the response that we undertook.  It was far more like taking that anchor and knowledge base and pushing it forward with great speed and efficiency.  It was not static, but in fact a very kinetic movement, which gained momentum as the skills required and the methodologies adapted.

This required shifting thinking, acquiring new technologic skillsets and a huge amount of work to sustain our associations through extremely challenging times.  Staff adapted to remote work and learned to communicate in different ways.  Cognizant of the fact that meetings and events are the lifeblood of organizations, both livestream and asynchronous recorded sessions needed to evolve to accommodate the times.  Staff upgraded skills and became digital event strategists and acquired DES certificates.

This dynamic shift in activities required a huge amount of work and as we all know, technology does not always simplify the way we work.  In fact, it often brings a vast amount of additional work, well past the learning curve.  Just as when computers replaced typewriters, the workload brought on by the COVID-19 disrupter expanded exponentially, with deadlines and real life client bottom lines to manage.

In other words, what is old is new again.  This is absolutely a paradigm shift requiring thinking outside the box and providing ROI for our clients.

Published by Renee Levine

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