One of the things we learn about technological advance is that it never entirely replaces legacy ways of doing things. It adds to the options. If the option is good enough, though, the new option might end up as the new default; the legacy ways of doing things fading into a new niche.
In that spirit, I was privileged to be in on the launch this week of a new associations-friendly mobile networking app. It's called Guild. Think it as a white-labelled WhatsApp. Or maybe a Basecamp where you, the owner, can control who sees what and kick them off if they cease to be a member.
Guild developer Ashley Friedlin has spent a bit of time looking at the issues of how committee and working group members engage with one another and with the association. Which may not necessarily be how we'd like them to. His findings are kind of obvious, when you think about them. Lots of people use WhatsApp because it's quick and easy. But then they don't like getting business conversations mingled in with family updates. Lots of people default to e-mail, because it's on the firm's computer. But they hate the endless conversation chains...
It's interesting that Ashley's chosen the name 'Guild' -- a real Associations 1.0 name if ever there was one -- for his solution. Tellingly, he sees the groups in the context of 'guilds' -- groups of like-minded individuals striving towards a common goal. The same day as his launch, I spent a very enjoyable hour with one of the great City Livery Companies, the Worshipful Company of Stationers and Newspaper Sellers. Among other things, we discussed ways of encouraging well-intentioned but busy individuals to participate more fully and more regularly in the affairs of the Livery.
Like I said, technological advance simply adds to the options.
Ashley's already got some interesting organisations signed up for the launch, by the way. Including one whose problem isn't getting members to interact and participate; rather to try and get some uniformity in the apps they use to do so, and some kind of control over members who don't pay their subs but still like being part of the group!