Inside: Consulting Our Crystal Ball

Editors share their stories from putting together this issue.

The January Associations Now cover story takes a look at what associations might be like in the year 2030. We specifically chose to focus on visions, rather than predictions, to allow our authors freedom to share what they most hoped to see from associations in 20 years. Ann Oliveri, CAE, envisions a world where "associations are engines of knowledge and learning, problem solving and innovation, social change, and wealth creation." Conor McNulty imagines associations operating on a distributed model, with a constantly moving cadre of volunteers engaging through mobile technology as much or as little as they'd like. And Rebecca Rolfes describes the possibility of "open-source associations," where information that once was proprietary is thrown open to the community, in much the same way that open-source software is developed.

However, because we focused on each author's hopes and dreams for the future, we discovered that every author envisioned a world where associations still exist, in one form or another. But we think it's important to consider the possibility of a world in 20 years where they do not. How would advocacy change without associations to spearhead it? How would certification and education change? We consider these questions and more in an online-only extra to the original article.

Once you've had a chance to consider these visions of the future, we'd love to hear yours. What would you like the association sector to look like in 2030? Leave a comment or email us at [email protected].

—Lisa Junker, CAE, editor-in-chief, [email protected]

Jennifer J. Salopek's "Technology, Meet Mission" and John Sotirakis' "A Look That Lasts" are two very different features—one is a look into how associations can sync up their strategic goals and IT efforts, the other is a case study of the American Planning Association's rebranding initiative. So perhaps it makes sense that both of them came together very differently.

"Technology, Meet Mission" wasn't rushed at the last minute, but it did come together very quickly. In late October we knew that we wanted a strong story on technology, but a lot of the ideas we were pursuing didn't pan out for various reasons. Not having a story for the January issue nailed down in late October may not seem like a big deal, but given our deadlines, it was pretty close to time to panic. Luckily, Jennifer was able to report and write what I think is a fine, multisource piece that not only shows how the best intentions in association IT departments fall apart, but also offers more concrete steps about how to repair those situations.

By contrast, "A Look That Lasts" had a downright leisurely path to publication: I had my first conversations with ThoughtForm Inc. about its work with APA last February. Most pieces don't take close to a year to run, of course, and in some ways this article was a victim of a certain timelessness; as you might suspect, stories that dealt with the recession had a lot of urgency for the Associations Now staff during 2009. But an association that approached its rebranding strategically is also an important and relevant subject and I think the final piece proves that the logo is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to shaping an association's brand.

—Mark Athitakis, senior editor, [email protected]