Difference between association memberships and peer groups

When visiting with my VISTAGE clients, I'm often asked a derivative version of the following question, "Jim does it make sense for me to attend a member association group of affiliated businesses in addition to VISTAGE?"

The answer—"Absotively!"

Beyond the friendships & social aspects of hobnobbing with like-minded peers, e.g. Builder 20 OR Bollweevils, you'll gain access (and validation) to things like manufacturing or building best approaches or best practices, current technology used, best pick-up, or best smartphone plan, what works in this instance and what doesn't. 

During my tenure as CEO, I belonged to multiple trade groups like this in addition to TEC (now VISTAGE).

Shortcomings of the trade group approach? At least a couple that surface. Rarely, does a member participant in a trade group "open the kimono" and share the secret sauce or their deepest & darkest concerns about both their internal and external customers. Further, there is the ever present danger of Groupthink where our desire for conformity (a/k/a "fitting in" with the crowd) results in an irrational or dysfunctional outcome. 

"VISTAGE member companies grow 2.2X faster than average small and medium sized businesses."

What a good VISTAGE (or like kind peer organization) should offer at a minimum is the following:

  • Get my answers questioned
  • Tell me what I need to hear, not what I want to hear
  • What don't I know about this that I need to know?
  • Where are my blind spots?

As a result of this peer feedback, you'll undoubtedly get a better decision for yourself and by extension the organization that you work for or run. If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go further, go together.