by Bonnie Koenig, President, Going International, Chicago
As my colleague Carolyn Lugbill, CAE, wrote in June’s “Global Exchange” column, associations can maximize their chances for success in establishing international chapters by beginning with a series of questions to assess countries for potential success. The next step in the process is to take the answers to these questions—the basis for your initial market analysis—and develop targeted criteria to guide the association’s growth plan.
After your initial market analysis is completed, other factors more specific to your association should be considered. Following are two such primary considerations.
Start with your strategic plan. If your association has already developed some outreach goals as part of its strategic plan, your targeted international growth criteria should mirror those goals, as shown in the example under “Implementing Your Criteria.”
Consider the relative infrastructures of your association and prospective chapter. Examine whether the association and proposed chapter are prepared to meet the needs of industry professionals in the proposed country. Consider whether your association’s chapter formation guide is international in scope and can be customized to meet the prospective chapter’s needs.
Implementing your criteria
The following example of a fictitious organization (a composite based on several of my clients), the Targeted International Growth Association (TIG), illustrates how growth criteria can be linked to the strategic plan and the readiness of the organization’s infrastructure.
TIG’s strategic plan includes the following outreach goals:
* to be the premier spokespeople and leading resource worldwide for the industry; and
* to encourage acceptance worldwide of TIG industry standards.
To implement this vision, TIG could potentially expand anywhere in the world, but the organization understands that to grow effectively, it must choose its areas of growth through targeted criteria. TIG decides it will choose countries according to the following criteria:
Evidence that the industry is established or has potential for growth. An affiliate’s ability to thrive is dependent on having a large enough pool of potential members from the outset. Clearly, sometimes no is the appropriate answer. TIG allows a group of interested colleagues in Brazil, for example, to explore the idea of a new chapter but determines that the pool of potential members is too small there.
A clear opportunity for TIG’s industry standards to be accepted. If a large number of members in the country are interested in having TIG’s standards accepted there, TIG will accomplish more through its efforts in that country.
Existing recognition of the interested professionals as industry leaders in the region. Leaders with local credibility will generally be the most successful recruiting colleagues.
Being willing to say no
Again, an organization must be willing to decline a group’s request to form a chapter if it does not meet the established criteria. To return to the scenario, TIG is approached by a number of colleagues to start a chapter in China but informs them that while TIG would be happy to exchange information with them, forming a chapter would be premature. Nevertheless, considering the developing business environment in that country, chapter possibilities will be worth reevaluating in the future.
As appeared in the American Society of Association Executive’s Association Management magazine, August 2003