On July 20, 2020, .orgSource celebrates 15 years in business. We are deeply grateful to the friends and clients who have contributed to our success. This journey, which has been filled with amazing people, projects, events, and education, began with a simple list.
I was searching for the perfect nine to five job. But a nagging voice in the back of my mind kept repeating that I was on the wrong track. Managing someone else’s business was not going to make me happy. When I’m considering a tough decision I always make a list. Seeing the options laid out in columns assures me that an answer is a keystroke away. I created an inventory of things that I love to do and things I would only do if I was starving. Helping people and solving problems came out on top. That is the moment when .orgSource was born.
Delivering Service and Solutions
Over the years, the opportunity to immerse myself in the two things at the top of that list has been a constant. .orgSource is centered around solutions and service. That desire to eliminate barriers and to fix what’s not working are qualities that define our business. We are never done learning. There’s not a day that I don’t wake up and ask myself what I could do better. But the challenges we tackle and the support we provide have grown and changed more than I could have imagined when I made that list.
In 2005, the year that I hooked my wagon to innovation and adventure and became an entrepreneur, Apple unveiled the iPod Shuffle, blogging was becoming a thing, and YouTube was founded. Associations were just beginning to glimpse how important technology would be to their future. Because one of my early jobs was heading a for-profit subsidiary that built websites for associations, my first consulting assignments revolved around creating and troubleshooting that technology.
As I was growing the business, I began to collaborate with AssociationCIO, a company founded by Kevin Ordonez and Rob Miller to provide contract CIO services to associations. In 2010 when .orgSource acquired AssociationCIO, Kevin and I began a partnership that maximizes our strengths and provides .orgSource customers with a range of specialized expertise.
Building Transformational Leaders
Initially, .orgSource focused on digital strategy and technology vendor selection. But early on we realized that industry 4.0, or the melding of the cyber and physical worlds, would reinvent the marketplace and require new models for success. Our colleague, Sharon Rice’s departure from APICS, the Association for Supply Chain Management, was an opportunity to leverage our IT expertise with her deep experience as a business strategist. Together we developed an integrated approach to planning, which we believe is better suited to the rapid pace of the digital marketplace. This transformational process acknowledges the disappearing borders between technology and other lines of business and places IT at the center of operations.
We also realized that future success would require more than strategy. A new kind of leadership was needed to thrive in a volatile marketplace. To understand how we could help our clients succeed in Industry 4.0, we wanted to discover what Association 4.0 leadership would look like. To that end, we interviewed some of the most innovative executives in our community. Those conversations are the basis of our Association 4.0 books: Positioning for Success in an Era of Disruption and An Entrepreneurial Approach to Risk, Courage, and Transformation. The books are filled with advice on how to use disruption to create opportunity and best practices for leadership in the digital age.
Investing in Culture, Relationships, and People
Relationships are at the center of this business. .orgSource is committed to helping our clients make important connections and build positive cultures.
From day one, executive coaching has been as much a part of my job as any other function. Senior staff, who were new to their positions and needed someone to confide in, were asking me for advice. We were also working with large organizations where there was a risk of failure unless they were able to adjust their culture to a more complex digital environment.
Facilitating the exchange of knowledge and giving leaders the opportunity to learn from others who are forging new directions in association management are areas where we strive to offer value. .orgCommunity, our networking and educational component was the result of wanting to meet those needs in a formalized way. It is a membership organization for association leaders who seek to advance their careers through peer mentoring and cutting-edge events and information.
Professional development is something I’m passionate about. Every organization includes people with the itch to experiment, build, and solve problems. Kevin and I encounter untapped talent regularly. We hope, through .orgCommunity, to provide leaders with tools to mine their human and professional resources and unleash the power of innovation in their teams.
What I want to communicate most about our growth is that evolution is constant. Identifying our customers’ problems and building solutions is ingrained in our approach to business. We are not comfortable with inertia. We are always prepared to acknowledge a stumble and pivot toward a better outcome.
I have never regretted the decision I made 15 years ago. Associations represent the world economy as well as the people who run it. My commitment as a member of this great profession is to learn everything I can from my clients and other game-changing leaders and share that knowledge broadly. This idea is heartfelt, but it has a practical rationale. The health of our sector is defined by how much each of us can contribute. When we invest in each other, we strengthen our professional future. I look forward to many more years positioning associations for success. Again, thanks to all who have made the first 15 so special.