By Stephen Carroll, CAE, President, CSAE Trillium Chapter

It’s summer and the living is easy, or at least no more enjoyable and memorable than the remarkable professional development experience presented earlier this month at the gorgeous Blue Mountain Resort in Collingwood for all CSAE Trillium Chapter Summer Summit attendees.  Personally speaking, among the many highlights, I absolutely loved the “Top of the Mountain” Networking Reception held at the mountain summit after an exhilarating gondola ride on a beautiful summer evening with a very engaging group of association executives and business members along with delicious food and refreshments and breathtaking views!

I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank Summer Summit Chair Kathy Tavares and Vice-Chair Wendy Sue Lyttle and the entire Summer Summit Organizing Committee for their inspired work, creativity and commitment to putting together a remarkable program.  Heartfelt thanks to Trillium Chapter Executive Director Tracy Blyth and Event Coordinator Chris Buttler for their significant contributions to the success of Summer Summit.  I would also like to express my gratitude to the many sponsors for their generous support of the Summer Summit and the Trillium Chapter.  To our incredible hosts at Blue Mountain Resort, thank you for treating us all so well and for making us feel welcome at your amazing facility and village.

Finally, I want to express my thanks to all Summer Summit attendees for choosing it to fulfill your professional development, education, networking and social activity needs.  I look forward to seeing everyone again at the Winter Summit at the Sheraton Hamilton and Hamilton Convention Centre by Carmen’s, January 19-20, 2017.

During lunch on the first day, CSAE Chair Guy Legault and I were pleased to have an opportunity to provide CSAE members with an update on the CSAE Business Model transition process.  I hope you have heard or read something about the meaningful change afoot with CSAE’s member offerings.  CSAE continues to provide quarterly updates on business model transition activity.  I invite you to visit for more detailed information on CSAE’s business model transition journey.

The CSAE Business Model transition process started in January, 2014 and a lot of activity, brainstorming and experimentation has taken place over the past two and a half years.  Association thought leader Jeff DeCagna has helped the CSAE Leaders Forum members (National and Chapter volunteer leaders and staff) to think critically, question the status quo and collaborate in terms of building meaningful and significant membership value for all CSAE members.  At every step along the way of CSAE Business Model transition, Trillium Chapter has been fully involved, contributing new ideas, and completely engaged in a collaborative and synergistic fashion.

The CSAE Business Model transition process has two areas of focus.  One is building new member value through content creation, curation and distribution, in other words, a content management strategy.  The second is a long-overdue reset on the national/chapter operating model, with a particular emphasis on the adage “one size does not fit all”.

The guiding principle for our work has been to remove the obvious — including some time-honoured “association orthodoxy” that inhibits change and evolution — add the meaningful, and maintain the valuable.  I can think of no better example than the CSAE Trillium Chapter Summer Summit for a current member value offering that is working well, is of high quality, resonates with CSAE members and is a success story that should continue to grow and build.

Centred initially on reaching out to new segments including Boards of Directors, F10s (individuals in the first ten years of their association management career between the ages of 22-32) and growth oriented associations, the CSAE Business Model transition saw the launch in May 2015 of a business model transition website with several experiments aimed at members and new segments including:

  • BoardREADY newsletter
  • BoardREADY card deck Indiegogo campaign
  • CSAE Growth Conference Experience
  • CSAE Explainer Videos
  • A mobile app prototype
  • Chapter local experience experiments
  • F10 Video Contest

It’s important to distinguish between “pilot projects” (association orthodoxy) and “experiments”.  Pilot projects are traditionally viewed as a new approach or design that will only be implemented if the pilot project is successful.  With experiments there is no expectation or requirement to implement all or part of what is being attempted, providing a high degree of flexibility and freedom and an opportunity to learn from failure.

I am honoured to serve as a member of the CSAE Business Model Transition Team which is examining the current national/chapter operating model in pursuit of a new model that moves to a more integrated organization that better serves all CSAE members.  The Transition Team will share a preliminary report with members of the CSAE Leaders Forum in October.  Further consultation will continue with a wide variety of stakeholders, and a final report will be prepared and discussed at the January 2017 CSAE Leaders Forum meeting.

I can assure all Trillium Chapter members that I will work diligently as a member of the CSAE Business Model Transition Team to ensure that the current value that exists locally continues to thrive and grow for the benefit of all Trillium Chapter members and stakeholders.  The member value Trillium Chapter currently provides locally must be maintained and nurtured with adequate resources in place to ensure sustained chapter growth.  If you have any questions, need additional information or would simply like to chat about the CSAE Business Model transition, please don’t hesitate to contact me at [email protected].