While the corporate world has, until now, taken the lead on the movement, I think the time has come to take the “C” out of the “Corporate Social Responsibility” buzz-phrase and let associations show just how far-reaching their influence can be.
Sometimes, a series of events comes together in a way that creates something more powerful than any of the individual components could have amounted to on their own. Author Sebastian Junger termed this phenomenon “The Perfect Storm” in describing the confluence of warm fronts, cold fronts, and the remnants of a hurricane that resulted in the 1991 East Coast Halloween Nor'easter, on which he based his eponymous book that later was made into a movie. But this term doesn't apply to just weather conditions.
In fact, this spring a series of factors were brewing that could end up being “the perfect brainstorm” for associations looking to create change in the world:
A social responsibility summit held this spring by ASAE and The Center for Association Leadership to address how associations can leverage their strengths to improve the world.
An innovative meeting format that combined an on-site event with remote participation from people at connected sites around the world, and others who attended virtually through an interactive platform.
A powerful brainstorming methodology: Appreciative inquiry, created by David Cooperrider,director at the Center for Business as an Agent of World Benefit at the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland.
Our senior writer Dave Kovaleski was one of the virtual participants at this event, which he writes about in this issue's cover story. I wish every association planner could have attended, not only for the content, but even more so to see how appreciative inquiry works in the real world. While the process may not be right for every group or meeting — you have to have at least two days to dedicate to the process, and passive learners won't like the interactivity needed to make the ideas flow — it does sound like a good way to get your arms around some big issues. Even better, participants walk away with tangible outcomes to work on and move the process forward.
While the corporate world has, until now, taken the lead on the movement, I think the time has come to take the “C” out of the “Corporate Social Responsibility” buzz-phrase and let associations show just how far-reaching their influence can be. Where to start? At your meetings, naturally. Whether you incorporate an SR summit of your own into your annual conference, or find ways to give back to world through your event, I feel confident that, once meeting planners get involved, the final elements for world change are in place. Let the brainstorm begin.
What do you think? E-mail Sue at firstname.lastname@example.org