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Associations are looking for innovation: innovative ideas, innovative approaches and more in order to stay relevant and deliver member value. They often seek out innovative products or tools to help them with this mission.

The Innovation Framework contains three critical but often neglected factors that associations need to uncover before ever getting to the point of an engagement.

Cultural Alignment

Technology plays a part with innovation, but cultural alignment with business partners directly impacts whether an innovative idea ever takes flight. With all of those moving parts, one critical item often overlooked in the decision making process is cultural alignment between your organization and that of possible partners. How do you assess cultural alignment?
Evaluate shared values and past behaviors:

  • Research the Culture. Glassdoor is a great way to gauge the culture and how an organization actually lives (or does not live) to its values. Look for patterns. ReviewMyAMS.com is another one.
  • Gut Check. First impressions are not everything and you have to be careful of unconscious biases but register how you feel about your partner initially and as you go along. Did you feel empowered? Talked down to? Important or like a number?
  • Visit the Physical Location. What is their office environment like? Does their online brand really reflect who they are, or is it marketing fluff?
  • Leadership. Does leadership truly believe in the organizational values or are they simply words on the wall or in a brochure? Schedule a meeting with senior leadership and find out whether the cultural messages are really coming from the top. Do they see themselves as a vendor or a true partner?
  • Communication Frequency. How regularly will you communicate? Talking to the vendor only during emergencies is not a best practice.

Platform

Large enterprise scale platforms can be leveraged to ignite innovation faster, cheaper and better than ever before possible. Leverage enterprise platforms, such as the Salesforce App Cloud, and the billion dollar innovation investments that has been made in them.

Network Effect

The network effect is a phenomenon whereby a good or service becomes more valuable when more people use it. The internet is a good example. Initially, there were few users of the internet, and it was of relatively little value to anyone outside of the military and a few research scientists. Has the good or service you are considering reached critical mass yet? What are the chances that it will?