Best Association Management Practice #1: Dream

Best Association Management Practice #1: Dream

« Association Management | Written by KCampbell | | (0) Comments

There are a lot of association management practices and general management theories focused on advancing organizations, but, when it comes down to it, if you want to propel your organization to the next level: dare to dream. This thought was crystalized for me when, going around the room at the end of a board leadership development session I conducted, a board member said the most important thing he heard all day was “dare to dream.” Dream not about what is, but about what’s possible.

In order to dream effectively, one must be willing to challenge their own assumptions, be open to letting go of long held beliefs and practices, and have the courage to challenge the status quo. Of course, to ultimately lead change, one must also be willing to challenge the assumptions of others, in an appropriate manner, and embrace calculated risk taking.

Give yourself permission to dream about the possible. Let go of your fear and imagine what could be. Once you have formulated your vision, develop a strategy to get there and articulate the vision and strategy with clarity. In the end, it is not just about daring to dream, it is about daring to do things differently.

For even bigger dreams, create a board culture wherein the board as a whole dares to dream. Engaging your board in generative dialogue will add value to the organization and the board member’s experience, as well as build trust and free members to collectively create a dream that no one member may have envisioned alone.


Dreams do come true. This is especially true if you believe in them. It’s time to dream of what could be if your organization is at a transformational moment. It is also time to dream if everything is running smoothly and you’re experiencing a high level of comfort with what is. Remember, comfort with what is can be the enemy and often holds us back from achieving what could be.

So, if you want to add member value, create relevancy, transform your governance system, create growth, or strengthen the CEO – Board partnership, dream about what could be and then dare to do things differently.

About the Author

Robert Nelson, a Certified Association Executive (CAE), brings over a quarter-century of successful executive leadership experience, working with Boards and high-powered CEOs in a not-for-profit setting. He is the founder of Nelson Strategic Consulting and brings hands-on experience guiding and facilitating the design of strategy development processes and think tanks. His focus on organizational strategies and strategic solutions to complex organizational and global grand challenges for national as well as international organizations.

Contact Robert through his website, or learn more about Nelson Strategic Consulting at