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Describe the importance of organizational culture in the process of reimagining associations.


On September 15th, Fonteva welcomes Reggie Henry, CAE, KiKi L’Italien, Dave Martin, and Ben Muscolino to tackle some of the big questions facing associations as they look toward and plan for the future.

As a precursor to that event, we asked each to share a brief answer to the question: Describe the importance of organizational culture in the process of reimagining associations. Answers are listed as shared with Fonteva directly by the panelists.

Reggie Henry, CAE
Chief Information & Engagement Officer

I think of culture as both the glue and grease that keeps an organization “moving”. It’s the thing that keeps employees engaged and motivated in the work of the organization. If done well, it empowers the staff of an organization to be creative and innovative in reimagining their work to solve today’s problems.

KiKi L’Italien
Association Chat Community Host

Organizational culture is key to the process of reimagining associations – and it is also in a strange kind of zone right now…no matter what kind of organizational culture to have. And that’s because human behavior is changing in an immeasurable number of ways. We’re kind of in an interesting spot right now because in “normal” times when you want to inspire a culture change for an association, you have to look at processes and process change. The process change begets behavior change and that behavioral change creates change in culture. But because of what we are all going through together right now, we are seeing processes disrupted on a massive scale and in almost every direction you turn. From how we order groceries to what we need when we travel to how we expect to host meetings, these processes haven’t just changed a little and for a little bit. They’ve changed a lot and that’s been a big change over an extended period of time. This has created and is creating behavioral change and, as a result, a very organic and sometimes painful culture change for organizations everywhere. Organizations that embraced agility and flexibility as core to their culture are likely excitedly sharing how smart they were for doing so. But for everyone else, …well, I think there are a lot of people wondering if the dust will ever settle long enough to figure out what’s changed for good and what hasn’t. For leaders who feel strongly connected to guiding organizations, this is an important time to understand their current culture and whether or not it will support the future growth for the association as it is, or if it needs some work before a shared envisioned future is even possible.

Dave Martin
Blue Cypress

Culture comes first. It’s critical for establishing the foundation of a successful organization. Creating a culture of a growth mindset of learning daily and trying new things is paramount. Also, getting the right people on the bus and then creating a culture of accountability through the implementation of a methodology like Scaling Up (Rockefeller Habits) that includes  daily huddles, weekly 1:1’s, and quarterly priorities is super important. Annual goals are kinda BS in my opinion. And, for god’s sake, please add a marketing seat to the executive table. 🙂

Ben Muscolino
President & CEO

When I hear the word “reimagine” I think; make-better or different.  That’s something that should be at the foundation of every business.  Culture is one of those pillars as well.  So, the importance of culture in the process of reimagining your business is paramount, but great leadership needs to communicate that it exists, why it exists, the goals of the organization and the goals of the people in it.  Then, it needs to be reinforced and recognized for the successes and failures that this culture brings about.  Communication and recognition from the top down can empower people to lead from the bottom up, but they won’t do that and innovation will be stifled if the culture doesn’t invite it.

Find all the questions we asked and meet our panelists.

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