If you’ve been wondering whether your organization is ready for the digital future, .orgCommunity’s Innovation Summit was the right place to find answers. We hosted some of the association industry’s most thought-provoking leaders at the February 20th event. The American Society of Anesthesiologists provided a sleek venue for a day of creativity, dialogue and connection.

My business partner, Kevin Ordonez, and I picked this occasion to launch our second book, Association 4.0: An Entrepreneurial Approach to Risk, Courage, and Transformation, because the Summit delivers the message that we want to communicate. To navigate a new era, new thinking will be required. We were thrilled that five of the 24 leaders we interviewed for the book joined us as presenters. They shared lessons learned through the precarious business of growing a company from start-up to maturity.
The Summit left me energized and optimistic but on notice that the future won’t be kind to complacence. Hiding in the comfort zone is not an option in the digital marketplace. For my colleagues who weren’t able to attend in-person or virtually, below are predictions, strategies and advice that caught my attention.

Greg Larkin, digital product developer and Founder of Bowery315, warned us that you can have a technology that rivals the lab at SpaceX, and people whose fingers itch to make electronic magic. But if the “wall of can’t” lives in the corner office, all you’ve got is fancy equipment. Innovation only catches fire, if the person at the top strikes the match.

Hugh Lee,* Co-Founder and Owner of Fusion Productions, someone who always sees beyond the horizon, put it like this, “Culture is not a thing; it’s an action.” Research conducted by Lee’s digitalNow initiative revealed that leaders who are involved and engaged are the biggest predictor for a successful digital transformation. Lee noted that, today, advancements in technology double every two years. But most of us are still operating with legacy systems.

Sig VanDamme,* Membership Software Evangelist, Community Brands, urged us to put the focus on enhancing member experience. He explained that when you make members the priority, issues such as cost and dues revenue take care of themselves. But he cautioned that to understand what members want you need accurate data and integrated systems to retrieve it.

Dean Comber described how the American Medical Association turned its data into revenue, products, partnerships and growth.

Brent Gibson,* Managing Director at NCCHC Resources, Inc. and Chief Health Officer, National Commission on Correctional Health Care makes entrepreneurship work for his organization. He noted that developing products and services to generate revenue is a good thing when they are true to the mission, and the mission can enhance your ability to market those offerings.

That’s just a snapshot of the program. View the full agenda here. Other great speakers included:

  • Emcee, Greg Fine, CEO at CCIM Institute, who has a thousand interesting stories about associations and entrepreneurship
  • Michelle Brien, Vice President, Marketing and Product Strategy, WBT Systems
  • Bill Bruce, CEO, American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine
  • Roy Chompko,* President, Adage Technologies
  • Tom Conway, Chief Financial Officer, American College of Clinical Endocrinologists
  • Eva Montgomery, Sales Manager, CadmiumCD
  • Kim Robinson,* President, FrontlineCo

If you missed the Innovation Summit, you’ll have another shot at dialogue with the disruptors, troubleshooters and visionaries who make our industry exciting at .orgCommunity’s Solutions Day in September.

*Indicates a contributor to our book, Association 4.0: An Entrepreneurial Approach to Risk, Courage and Transformation.