Values. Loyalties. Losses. These factors comprise the lens from which leaders should ideally view change through their stakeholders' eyes. What do employees, customers, and business partners value? Who or what are they loyal to? And if a proposed change is implemented, what will be the real or perceived losses? These issues are not trivial and change agents would be well served to identify those before embarking on the journey into an alternate future.
Our association, in its current state, is constructed for the baby boomer generation. In full disclosure, I'm one of those. We are joiners. We are homeowners. We peruse the Sunday New York Times cover-to-cover. We tend to remain with one employer and endure the ups and downs over time. Work-life balance? We work and bank our leave time. Of course, I'm exaggerating. But when you glance around, the undeniable truth is that the world is moving on from this generation.
The average human attention span in 2000 was 12 seconds. By 2013 it plummeted to 8 seconds. Today, American adults spend over 11 hours per day listening to, watching, reading, or interacting with media. I recently spent half a day at the beach prior to the Jamaican Association of Public Health Inspectors conference. Beautiful people. Gorgeous beach. Warm ocean water. But something was awry. Few people were talking or interacting. Couples, families, coworkers-silence. Virtually everyone was hunched over a mobile device. I felt as though I had landed on an alien planet, a planet that is orbiting dangerously close to the National Environmental Health Association (NEHA).
In a recent national survey, 77% of association chief strategy officers reported younger members are uninterested in traditional membership models and a similar percentage of young professionals report being disinterested in current association governance. If these data are accurate, and if NEHA hopes to remain relevant for the next 50 years, we'll need to adapt to the new reality. Please allow me to share some thoughts on what that might look like.
In the future, content is king. The tourists lounging on that beach in Jamaica ignored each other because they were sharing, absorbing, or creating digital content. That content could have been a photo, idea, dream, or one of many other things. Whatever it was, it was likely a current affair. That is, something immediate or new that was worthy of seizing an 8-second attention span. This trend is relevant to the new...