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From Site Selection magazine, September 2020

An Action Orientation Is Not Enough

IAMC Chair
Colleen Caravati


2020 has been a hard year, even with a few months still to go. I hope you’ve been largely spared the troubles exacted on many people. If not, I extend my sincere sympathies, and especially if you have lost a friend or relative.

But even as I acknowledge the impacts of this pandemic, a few of which have touched me as well, I believe there’s a new and very positive future out there. I’m an optimist. I can see on the horizon new needs and service opportunities sprouting from the broken ground of disruptions and inconveniences. I see potentially valuable, expanded roles for IAMC in the aftermath.

Regarding the unfamiliar new landscape that’s emerging, you may ask, “With networking a major part of IAMC’s value proposition, can we find other high-value ways to connect?” I have a two-part response. First, in the future we will be meeting face to face again. Second, virtual meetings will improve as we learn how to use them and as the tools themselves get better.

A recent Associations Now article says, “The good news is that the pandemic has made us accustomed to rapid change, and we have the technology platforms to deliver exceptional learning content and continue to inform, educate, and inspire our community in a virtual experience.” This confidently hopeful view is from Susan Robertson, president and CEO of the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE). I totally agree.

As one small IAMC example, as early as March we decided to expand our webinar offerings to cover COVID-related CRE issues and to pack the programs into the next five months. The members responded very positively. This kept the organization out in the marketplace. We delivered valuable support for managing in the pandemic environment. We moved to create our first-ever Virtual Forum, and I hope you will register and participate.

A McKinsey & Co. article entitled “The Next Normal: How Companies and Leaders Can Reset for Growth Beyond Coronavirus,” provides a bridge from the principle that we need to move fast to the IAMC core value of personal connections.

The article first notes that “inertia is clearly riskier than action right now,” but goes on to say, “Fear for corporate survival surely played a part, but our conversations with global leaders suggest that stronger motivations were a clear sense of corporate identity and a desire to simply be there for customers and for one another. More love than fear, in other words.” So maybe an action orientation alone is not enough. The piece says organizations also need to demonstrate concern for their people: customers, suppliers, vendors, partners and employees.

In closing, I’ll share another quote from the ASAE’s Susan Robertson: “The associations that will grow through this crisis will be the ones that set aside agendas and sit next to their members, place their arms around their shoulders, and say, ‘Hey, how are you doing? Is there anything I can do to help?’ ”

The staff and I have heard many member stories about how COVID-19 has affected them personally and their businesses. As a service organization, listening is in our job description.

How are you doing? Please reach out and let me know. I’d love to hear.

Colleen Caravati
Chair, IAMC Board of Directors

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