All resources

Discover Your Readiness for Business Innovation

One pathway to convert health care disruption into opportunity is to accelerate business development with new corporate partnerships, digital business models, and entrepreneurial strategies. But how prepared are health associations to venture outside the comfort zone of traditional nondues revenues sources? 

Over the last five years, our firm has been researching the question: What is business innovation readiness? In collaboration with ASAE Research Foundation, we learned from focus group sessions with association executives that leaders are not sure where to start. Leaders want to know how does their association compares to their peer health associations. And what are the weak links in our organizational capacity to increase nondues revenue?

The message was clear; leaders need a readiness maturity model and intelligence tool to identify critical operational and leadership areas in need of improvement.

Starting in 2018, the ASAE Research Foundation and Association Ventures began a collaborative research project to validate a business-innovation-readiness tool, focusing on healthcare associations to start. The proposed readiness gap analysis tool would enable prospective users to (a) identify specific areas of business-innovation readiness that are strongest and those areas that need improvement (b) measure readiness over time as business-innovation solutions are applied and (c) trigger valuable discussions among staff, board, and other stakeholders on how to achieve new business development success.

We concluded that the best response to this expressed need for targeted guidance on building business-innovation capacity was to design a business-innovation-readiness tool to

  • Provide baseline measurements and benchmarking to benefit individual associations.
  • Support additional ethnographic research with associations at different points on the continuum of readiness to yield findings of the most effective innovation strategies.
  • Collect data that associations enter into the tool over time to generate longitudinal data for a learning loop of continuous improvement.
  • Guide creation of resources as guidance to support targeted initiatives to improve business-development capacity.

Our first report released in Spring 2020 summarizes the research, including the foundational logic of the maturity model. Four subsequent readiness reports, followed by virtual briefings and discussions, will delve into the specific domains (two domains per report), offering those who choose to participate the opportunity to self-score their organizations' readiness.

Taken together, this first report and the subsequent installments will provide association leaders an informed mindset and organizational tools to design workable proposals for organizational change and improvement.  With a readiness diagnosis in hand, association leaders can focus on correcting the root causes of barriers to business innovation.  Thus, we hope that given the knowledge of these tools, association leaders will gain comfort to embrace entrepreneurship ventures as a viable path for business innovation that serves the mission and financial goals of their associations.

Applying Organizational Diagnosis to Business-Innovation Readiness

Before the survey project with ASAE, Association Ventures developed a maturity model of business venture readiness based on a critical review of scholarship in business entrepreneurship, lean innovation, enterprise design thinking, digital platform business models, and social impact research.  

Business-innovation research projects from both the for-profit business and nonprofit social entrepreneurship disciplines further informed our model with specific innovation high-performance descriptors.

We also drew elements of our maturity model from our venture startup projects for professional association clients. Extracting insights from the combination of research literature and association client work experience created a basis to frame issues, guide data gathering, and identify organizational conditions.

From the scholarship review and our operational practice experience, we developed a set of high-performance descriptors for each of the eight readiness domains.

A screenshot of a cell phone

Description automatically generated

From Research to Leadership Solutions

Our initial report, to be issued in Spring 2020, shares the story of developing a first-generation gap analysis tool that can help diagnose innovation readiness gaps against the standard of the peer group of health-related associations. This tool can also highlight an association's readiness against a high-performance standard of a business-innovation maturity model.

Subsequent research briefs will also recommend domain-specific change management pathways and operational solutions to elevate business-innovation readiness.  With access to this series of domain-specific tools, association leaders will have a first-generation model for advancing new business ventures development in this climate of accelerating disruption. And have essential guidance on how to start up new business ventures that serve mission while generating new revenue.