Editor’s Note: The Vision Thing

Looking into a crystal ball and pondering the big changes coming next to the world of associations.

In my first job in the journalism world, I was a teenage “copy girl” (a silly 1970s title) at a Midwestern newspaper. My job was to monitor the wire service machines, tear off and sort incoming stories, and hustle them to editors around the newsroom. In slow moments, I snuck back to the composing room, where I watched X-acto-knife-wielding production guys paste up the next day’s paper before the pages went on press. I thought I had the coolest summer job in the world.

Now, of course, it sounds like ancient history, because it is. I sometimes wonder: If I had known then about the changes that were about to crash over the media business and turn it into something drastically different, would I have chosen a different career path?

Probably not. I think if I’d had a crystal ball in 1979, I would have been excited about the changes on the horizon and the opportunities they would create—both for me and for the way organizations communicate. But the people in newspaper executive suites and boardrooms back then might well have made different business decisions to adapt to the looming digital revolution if they had seen the future more clearly.

Which is to say, a little foresight would have served them well. And today’s association leaders need a long-term focus on the future just as critically, if not more, given the pace and breadth of 21st-century change. The ASAE Foundation developed the ASAE ForesightWorks research initiative to identify drivers of change at work in the world now and to provide resources to help associations anticipate member needs, detect emerging competitive forces, and prepare for social and workplace shifts that could make or break them.

20/20 Foresight,” our special report in this issue, introduces you to six of the 41 change drivers identified in the Foundation research and tells real-world stories of forward-thinking association leaders who are addressing them now. Read on for a glimpse at the future—no crystal ball required.

(milos/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Julie Shoop

By Julie Shoop

Julie Shoop is the Editor-in-Chief of Associations Now. MORE

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