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To Disrupt or To Be Disruptive? That is the Question.

Remember back in the day when you watched television as it was actually happening? There was no on-demand. When it was time for a show, movie, or program to air, you better be there or miss it. Can you recall a time when you waited, I mean really anticipated that one special or new season to begin? You pushed everything aside to be on the couch or tucked in bed right before prime time. The calendar was adjusted, takeout was the night's menu, and the children were given their occasional dose of Benadryl. It's all going as planned.

You did it! You made it. You've arrived, and the remote is in hand. Minutes in, it dawns on you that the moment is just as good as you hoped it would be. What the program is delivering is checking off every expectation box you have. You're about to sink your teeth into it just as things are heating up, and wham! An unfamiliar voice shatters your satisfaction with those dreaded words, "This just in. Breaking news."

Someone somewhere has deemed your entertainment as less than significant compared to what is shaking up the world around you. Some force has just decided something is happening that supersedes your current engagement. Now, though this may be true, you could care less. All you know is that your regular and carefully scheduled program has been interrupted. The interruption has garnered your attention, and you can't see past it. You're fixated and obsessed with this disturbance as it has entrenched upon your right to execute your familiar plans.

Isn't that most of us? The world is falling apart at the seams, and our vision is squared and locked on what we were doing before the plunging occurred. Our associations have mastered the art of tunnel vision. We have been established for decades, designated methods for getting the job done, and adopted ways for bringing the mission to life. The last thing we are willing to welcome is a disruption to our routine.

Oxford Languages defines disruption as a "disturbance or problems which interrupt an event, activity, or process." It's unplanned and downright rude. It doesn't ask permission or even offers an "excuse me." It just forces its way on in, settles its raging storm over your familiar, and expects you to be ok with it. Not nice, disruption. Not nice!

However, what if our organizations began to adjust our lens and see disruptions differently? Here us out. What if the interruption is not rude at all? Could it have shown up to assist you instead? Think about it. Breaking news was never about putting a stop to our parties. A major event that no one expected had just taken place. An occurrence that is so tremendous that life as we knew it would change for an individual, a community, a nation, or the world. This disruption was meant to inform and warn us. It was intended to prepare us for the days ahead.

Our associations have been put through the wringer since the breaking news of 2020. COVID-19 swept in and upheaved our lives, dare we say, forever. Then the economy quivered a little and produced a few bumps in the road. Enter a new stage of interruption as the nation begins to prepare for an economic explosion. Business was conducted one way, and it's been like fingernails dragging across a chalkboard to return to the way it once was. Every time we think we're about to arrive in that charming town of normal, disruption shows right back up.

Ponder this with us. Maybe we were never meant to return. Perhaps our associations are being challenged into something altogether different. Could today be the day we decide as an industry to stop driving forward, looking in the rearview? Is the challenge that we would no longer talk about wanting change but indeed be the change we hope to see?

We would say yes.

If we stare deep into the disruption, we'll find divine interventions. We'll discover that all this rattling and rolling is a gift to stretch us and enlarge our territories. It's time to do membership differently if we are going to reach a new generation. It is time to accept that events are being redefined if we are going to create new experiences. It's time our programming revolves around the profession and membership needs more intensely. It is time our governance and policies evolve with the present. It's about time an association graces the Forbes' list of The World's Most Innovative Companies.

We all heard it. The only constant in life is change. Please allow us to say it slightly differently. The only constant in business is disruption. You will either be disrupted or become the disruptor. This New Year, the choice is ours for the taking. Wait for the breaking news, or be the breaking news. That is the question!

We would value a deeper discussion with you on this topic. Contact THuS via our website. We'll love to share a few case studies with you about how we helped the disrupted become the disruptor.


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