One of the highlights of the ASAE Annual Meeting, opening today at the Dallas Convention Center, in downtown Dallas, Texas, is the ASAE Book Store. The vast array of really useful resources and information never disappoints. And ASAE uses this opportunity to showcase its newest books and studies.
Just off the ASAE presses is the new “A Practical Guide to Globalization for Associations,” written by Dick Blatt, President of Planar Consulting, a firm that specializes in helping associations develop international strategy, and Donna Hasslinger, World Wide Director of Volunteer and Member Services, Drug Information Association (DIA).
Dick formerly served as President & CEO of the Point of Purchase Advertising Institute, and brings long, strong experience in the trade association sector. Before her current position with DIA, Donna was vice president for worldwide member services for the National Geographic Society (NGS), and vice president of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education(CASE). Together they made sure that the global issues and concerns of both trade and professional associations were addressed.
We recently sat down to talk with them about this project.
Why did you write this book?
Dick: “We wrote the book to encourage associations to assess their global opportunities and, if viable, help them identify a pragmatic and comprehensive approach. There are really four phases of globalization….reaching the decision, developing an affordable, manageable, and low-risk global strategy, implementing the plan, and then finally, sustaining the plan and efforts. Without strategic positioning, an association can sink a lot of good will and money into globalization efforts. But it is possible to position global efforts as critical, affordable, manageable, and rewarding – for all parties. We hope the book will provide a solid practical introduction to the process for associations.”
Donna: “The flattening of the world and the challenges in our economy are creating the perfect storm to drive associations to consider globalization as a way to improve support for their missions, maintain their relevance, broaden their financial base, educate practitioners worldwide, and maintain thought leadership for many of the industries and professions. American associations need to be confident that they can act and be successful and their CEOs, boards and senior staff need to work together as a team on going global – and the book leads them through a process to accomplish that.”
A lot of associations have “international” in their name, but at best have a handful of members from Canada or Mexico… Why aren’t more associations trying to get into the international arena?
Dick: “They’re probably focused more on the obstacles–lack of knowhow, lack of resources, cultural and language barriers, fear of the unknown–when they should be strategically considering if their mission and strategic goals translate internationally, and, if so, finding the way forward.”
Donna: “Previous literature on globalization seems to have focused on case studies, but our book recognizes the need for each association to customize a low-risk global strategy that fits its budget and ability to manage. So we have provided a comprehensive review of options and a process to engage the CEOs, boards, and senior staff in moving forward with an approach that is affordable, manageable, and rewarding, all based upon the association’s goals, governance, and business model.”
For that matter, what does it mean to be an international association?
Dick: “It can mean one of two things. For some American based associations, becoming international means selling more products, services, and membership to the global community. For some though, who are truly intent on functioning globally, it means accepting and acting upon good ideas for the industry or the profession from everywhere – it means providing for global governance and thinking. If you can move beyond just American-centric thinking, you can elevate an industry or profession globally and provide real leadership by bringing people together to share information internationally
If you had one piece of advice for an association that was thinking about expanding their presence internationally, what would it be?
Dick: ACT NOW.
Think as big and broadly and strategically on behalf of the industry or profession you represent as you can, so that you can lead it into a successful and relevant future. Don’t be afraid. Work to exchange knowledge globally, and educate practitioners worldwide.
Donna: “Realize that the future belongs to those who bring people together internationally based on their commonalities. Don’t dwell on the obstacles to be faced – there are proven methods for adapting to each challenge – but act NOW on what is best for your industry or profession.
Dick and Donna will be signing their new book, and spreading their enthusiasm for a global world, at the ASAE Bookstore in the Dallas Convention Center, upper lobby D, on Sunday, August 12, from 4-5 PM.