A Disturbance in the Force
This is one of the most memorable lines in the Star Wars film series. It reminds me of what I believe to be the underpinning of all ecosystems in the universe: a force.
There is a force of nature, a force within industries and a force in our lives. This force is the strength or energy that produces movement, momentum and activity. A force is defined as “a push or pull upon an object resulting from the object’s interaction with another object. Whenever there is an interaction between two objects, there is a force upon each of the objects. Forces exist only as a result of an interaction.”
So, unless you don’t have any interactions, you have forces at play. The question is, do you recognize these forces, and are you tuned into their frequency?
Some days, weeks and even years have a positive force—you have momentum, and the conditions of your work, your relationships and your life are positive.
And then there are the times when there is a disturbance in the force. Things are off, and you sense that the equilibrium has shifted, that the force has been interrupted by friction. This friction creates heat, sometimes fire.
For those of you leading organizations, what are the forces impacting your industry? McKinsey and Co. has identified five forces impacting every business and every industry:
Factors in each of these five realms are influencing your organization. The question is, who is channeling or counterbalancing these forces?
Many leaders are learning that there is an opportunity to shift the tide of a negative force and accelerate the influence of a positive force, resulting in a force multiplier. That force multiplier for associations is your annual conference and trade show.
I witnessed this recently at OMED—the osteopathic medical conference that has become a true experience for the profession and the industry within which it operates. This event went from a conference that dispensed medical education with a medical expo attached, to a celebration of osteopathic medicine and a true community experience.
Three years ago, the CEO of the American Osteopathic Association (AOA), Adrienne White-Faines, made a decision to shift the force of the profession. They launched a new brand campaign promoting the distinctions of an osteopathic physician, invested in osteopathic-focused research, strengthened the impact of their public policy efforts and converted the conference into an experience that creates a positive forward momentum for loyal physicians, as well as medical students and residents. OMED has channeled the force of demographics and the need for a better health care system into an event that is changing the game for the profession.
Your annual event can be a force multiplier for your industry. It just takes ambition, vision and a plan. If there are any disturbances in the forces influencing your industry (is there an industry not facing new pressures every day?), take a new look at your annual conference and expo for the answers to shift the balance of power in favor of your members and your organization.
Make your event a force multiplier for your industry.