Brand Connection

The Cure for the Common Association Cold

/ May 1, 2019 (Getty Images)

If we aren’t taking good care of our events, then we aren’t as prepared as we should be for disruption.

By Beth Surmont, CAE, CMP

I have a cold.

It’s one of those minor, annoying colds. Enough to make me tired and unmotivated, but not enough to call in sick to work or skip my morning workout. Simple tasks seem like a challenge. I’m exhausted.

Because I’m an event planner, my obsessive control-freak side kicks in, and I try to analyze how exactly I got sick. Was it that woman coughing on the train? Was it that I didn’t wipe down the light switches and door handles in my hotel room? Was it too much wine and too little sleep? Most likely, it was a combination of all of this…and more. I’m not taking good care of myself, so my immunity was weak, and the virus slipped in.

Sometimes working on association events feel like having a cold. Things that should be simple take extra effort. The long days are exhausting. The repetitive formats can be unmotivating. There’s too much wine and too little sleep. It wears you down.

If we aren’t taking good care of our events, then we aren’t as prepared as we should be when disruption slips in; and in the aftermath, we are analyzing what it was that left us unprepared. Was it a slow decision-making process? Stagnant or decreasing budgets? A patchwork of different tools required? Intolerance for risk? Limited bandwidth? Most likely, it was a combination of several of these things (among others).

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how to move from unprepared to prepared, especially when it comes to association events. What I’ve found is that it’s not just how change was managed, but the type of foundation in place before navigating threats, disruption, and transformation.

360 Live Media has created a tool to help you self-evaluate how ready your organization is to deal with change. Based on eight years of working with more than 50 associations across multiple industries, we identified certain characteristics among those who successfully implemented change. We summed up the key factors into 10 statements and pressure-tested our assumptions with our association partners. We also worked with a change leadership research expert. The result is our Organizational Change Assessment, which is available complimentary to the association community.

This link allows you to self-assess your organization and identify gaps where you need to focus to help you be better prepared for when a challenging “virus” comes around.


Interested in more? Subscribe to“Otter Talk,”a bi-monthly newsletter that highlights trends, ideas, and actionable takeaways for your association events, written by an experienced member of the planning community who has lived the “planning life.”

Beth Surmont, the Director of Experience Design for 360 Live Media, has nearly 20 years of professional planning experience. A Certified Meeting Planner (CMP) since 2008 and Certified Association Executive (CAE) since 2016, Beth has worked in both the corporate and nonprofit sectors and has a wide range of knowledge, with experience in almost every aspect of meeting planning, from registration, to logistics, to program management and production.