LEADERS’ INTERVIEWS– Breaking with Orthodoxies: Jeff Morgan, Part II

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A major problem that conversations with members uncovered was the difficulty club managers had in getting their boards to understand their markets’ behavior and see the need for dramatic transformation of their clubs.

The design of the Governance & Leadership Summit was the first solution that was rolled out. It is a one-day workshop that brings together club managers with the respective chairs of their boards to look at their clubs from the perspective of the market and jointly re-think their models, governance and leadership roles.  Summits feature respected guest experts, provide immersion experiences in the dynamics of today’s markets and analyze successful cases to educate participants on what it takes to run clubs as businesses and make them competitive for today’s markets.

At their inaugural summit, board members met other board members for the first time, broadening their understanding of the club business and identifying shared challenges, market trends and options for model innovation they had never before conceived as possible.

No one yet knows how Governance & Leadership Summits might evolve. They might spin off online communities of board members, spawn joint ventures or economic value networks among clubs, give rise to a CMAA consulting arm for helping clubs execute and develop the new model and infinite other possibilities. Morgan’s philosophy is not aimed at designing and launching finished products but at setting in motion dynamic processes of continuous learning by doing. This is how successful, entrepreneurial companies grow today.

Morgan’s transformative leadership does not depend on top-down decision-making or a role for himself as expert in all things. He leads by formulating a strategic vision and enabling and empowering others to contribute to it and move it forward.

One of his member club managers, a “visionary manager” as Jeff sees him, has already transitioned from the conventional club model of the past to distributed communities and value networks that are not dependent on one location or type of activity.  For example, there is an app through which members can access club resources anywhere, anytime. The club has created an Uber like model for limousine service; and extensions of the club experience on a beach location. It has turned unused land into farm plots on which members can grow their own vegetables.  This club manager is providing a living laboratory of experimentation and change and a window into what is possible.

If it wasn’t for Morgan’s constant visits to members and endless questions these innovations might have never been known. And if Morgan had not established a framework of distributed leadership and processes of co-creation, this case would have been hidden or undervalued because all new ideas would have to come top down. As it was this manager was one of the “expert” presented at the Governance & leadership summit. Collaborative leadership, customer focus and entrepreneurial learning by doing (vs. formal planning) characterize the principles of management that give rise to today’s innovators and market leaders. MCAA and Jeff Morgan demonstrate how they can be applied to associations.