Designing the Association
Frequently during the early 1990s, the SIA office in San Jose has hosted persons seeking advice about how to organize a new association or better manage an existing one. The discussions are rarely in depth and the conversation often begins with a tentatively spoken request for some informal advice. The questions posed by visitors seeking advice range from, "At which golf course resorts do you hold your meetings?" (a meaningless question since SIA does not hold combined business-social events at resorts) to more serious questions such as, "Can you help me plan my association's first meeting in Washington, D.C.?"
Requests for information and advice come from consultants, former industry executives seeking to form an association of their former competitors, government officials, directors of foreign associations, academics, research institutes, and others. However, during a five-year period, no one has suggested that an association should be formed according to a plan or a design so that it will be effective after it is established. In one particular case, the visitor stated that only a full six months after the formation of his association did, the founder-directors sit down and ask the important questions about what their association should be and do. A more recent request from an executive director of a foreign trade association was for a copy of the SIA bylaws so that he might review them before writing a similar document for his association.
Over the years, the requests from others for advice in forming and managing an association encouraged the writing of the book of which this is the last chapter. If only a few pages of written material could be provided to those seeking short and simple advice, they would be the ones that follow this chapter introduction.