How to Spin Disruption into Something That’s Positive for Members

Dec 1, 2020

Many of the organizations that I’ve featured in my first few months hosting The Joy of Membership Podcast have talked about strategies that they had to put into place to be able to serve members during this unexpected time of change.

I have consistently been encouraged that in these difficult times, it really feels like people *need* their communities and industry advocates more than ever.

To me, there are 4 possible responses to a major disruption:

Option 1 is the classic “pivot.” A pivot becomes necessary when you look at what you’ve been doing and you realize, “This is NOT going to work at all,” and you know that you absolutely must move in a different direction.

Option 2 is a “power-up.” In this situation, an organization goes all-in on something that has already shown a glimmer of possibility. It’s about seeing what’s most likely to work and investing your time and energy there.

Option 3 is to “prune.” Pruning is admittedly painful. It’s the act of cutting back – sometimes this is a cutting back of programs, sometimes it’s a cutting back of staff. These can feel like significant losses, but the goal is to trim back enough to encourage future growth to be stronger, just as you’d prune back a tree to improve the tree’s overall health, to reshape it around obstacles, or to save the tree from catastrophic damage.

Option 4 is to “preserve.” When you preserve, you’re looking at what’s actually most important. Uncertain times give us the opportunity to reassess – WHY are we here? WHO do we serve? WHAT is most needed from us right now in this moment.

Any of these 4 actions can help you spin a painful disruption into something that could potentially be positive for members. It may not feel like it at the time and it requires difficult decisions, but ultimately, the work that you put is worth it.

Amy Hager’s clients have clearly gone through troubled times as well, but as she talked about in this week’s podcast interview, for some of them, being able to focus on subcommunities where a big impact could be made was enough to make a significant difference.

You can listen in on my interview with Amy here!

I’d love to hear from you, too. What are some things that your organization has done to spin disruption into something that’s been positive for members?

Ways to Work with Me

A flawlessly-delivered, high-value member experience doesn’t happen by accident.  It requires thoughtful planning and intentional action.

Here are 4 ways that you can work with me:

  • Member Experience Makeover – when you know *something* needs to change, but you aren’t sure exactly what
  • Facilitated Focus Day – when you know what to fix but not how to do it, or you can’t stay focused long enough to make the fix happen
  • TeamShare – when you need extra hands but don’t know who could possibly have competence in all of the different areas you need
  • Wild Apricot – when your current tech (or lack of tech) won’t let you do what you need to do


You can learn about all of these options by clicking here

Hey there.  I’m Joy Duling, Founder and CEO of The Joy of Membership.

Clients hire me to help them design and deliver exceptional member experiences. If you lead an association, trade group, or membership-based nonprofit, you can find FREE resources to help you run and grow your membership organization by visiting here:

I look forward to connecting with you there.