In the 1830's, Alexis de Tocqueville laid the success of democracy in America at the feet of the Associations.
Among the laws that rule human society there is one which seems to be more precise and clear than all others. If men are to remain civilized or to become so, the art of associating together must grow and improve in the same ratio in which the equality of conditions is increased.
Alexis has cited associations as being the critical catalyst necessary to sustain liberty
Are we, as an association, fulfilling that function today?
According to Tocqueville, associations are venues through which people exchange information and initiatives.
With the advent of social media, we are now in position where all members of an association can contribute to the overall health and wealth of an association, and by wealth I mean intellectual wealth. Our members are in fact both customer and supplier for the organisation.
An association is a co-op, and according to Tocqueville, this dynamic is the key to modern civilization because self-organizing communities perform critically important tasks that the government would otherwise have to do.
Our relationship with government bodies, regulatory authorities and local authorities determines the future of the industry that the association represents. Equally important is the relationship we have with our peers, both as an association and as a member.
In the world of business competition is important to maintain parity, pricing and standards, within an industry sector but equally important is what I term "co-opetition" where competitors merge their knowledge and skills to complete a job.
This is where an association proves its worth to the industry by getting competitors to sit around the table and work together for the future of their industry (co-opetition).
This confirms the Alexis de Tocqueville's supposition that "the art of associating together must grow and improve in the same ratio in which the equality of conditions is increased."
I believe this to be as valid today as it was 184 years ago in 1830.