Reforming an Industry Organisation is Like Changing a Regime

by | Dec 14, 2020

Have you noticed how some industry organisations modernise and thrive, while others seem stuck in the past with an endless loop of reviews? 

You would think that a compelling case and committed leaders are the main ingredients for succeeding with organisational innovation. Still, the evidence is that an industry can be reviewed for decades, with little real change happening.

Like a commercial firm, industry organisations have fundamentals.

Investors will look at the basic economics of a business before buying shares, and businesses will look at the fundamentals of an industry organisation before paying membership. 

In some ways, industry organisations are like an institution or a regime. From this vantage point, you can see that members of an industry organisation are at once like a political constituency wanting a voice and shareholders wanting value. 

It means that a successful reform process must show how it will produce more value for more businesses. Equally, it must show how it will be inclusive, with more businesses able to have a say in a modernised organisation.

If the value proposition is weak for most businesses in an industry, or it is designed to have selected hearing for particular groups, then the fundamentals are flawed. Businesses won’t buy it.

It means that industry change leaders must have a strong business case for innovation and also be skilled in navigating the political economy and competing interests across an industry.

You commonly see industry bodies becoming deeply embedded in the government and industry ecosystem. Over time, they develop inter-relationships and dependencies that make them ‘sticky’.

Deep change is far more difficult to achieve with industry organisations than it appears, even for the most accomplished leaders. 

Developing an ever-stronger business case is not enough.

Success with innovation for industry bodies starts with the realisation that you are not in a court of law, but the court of industry opinion.

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