Political and social groups have experienced a significant decline in membership over the past decade. It seems that more people are choosing to disengage these days.
The results of the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics general social survey show that national participation in civil and political groups fell from 18.7 per cent in 2010 to 9.4 per cent in 2019.
It is surprisingly common for industry organisations to have low membership levels like those found for civil and political groups. How is it that businesses are disengaging when industry services are more important than ever?
The underlying cause likely has more to do with the state of the industry body than it does with businesses.
Rather than rationalising the problem as businesses not wanting to join organisations these days, the counter view is that businesses are choosing to disengage from current bodies.
When industry bodies are no longer fit for purpose to serve modern businesses, individual firms are left with some strategic choices.
They must decide whether: to disengage from that industry body and go it alone or join an alternative group; to stay involved and hope it gets better; to demand innovation that transforms and sustains its performance; or to advocate for dissolving the organization as it has served its purpose and is no longer needed.
Most businesses will opt to disengage, because it’s simply too hard to transform a traditional industry organisation.
Industry institutions become so embedded, that it requires enormous energy to overcome the status quo. The Law of Least Effort comes into play and says that when there are several ways of achieving the same goal, people will gravitate to the least demanding course of action.
Water flows downhill. Businesses disengage from obsolete industry bodies.
The opportunity for industry institutions, is to leverage the law of least effort to retain and acquire members. Prioritise being easy to do business with and producing compelling value for modern businesses. Most claim to try, but only about 10 per cent actually do it. It’s easier not to.