Insights to shape your tomorrow


The Threat of Disruption

from Robin Lokeman

MCI Group President

Is your business ready for a breakthrough?

Change is everywhere and often change turns into disruption. Can associations survive without following the trend? Many people, like your members and customers, tend to be happy with the status quo. Disruption means change, which can conflict with their beliefs and expectations.

Being disruptive for associations can be translated in many different ways, from introducing a new set of needs, changing the conversation, and offering new products, to partnering with organizations that are not obviously compatible. But turning upside down a business model with disruptive ideas may not be the right strategy for all associations.

Sometimes playing it safe with improved services and maintaining priorities consistent with current trends might be the right choice. In this redesigned issue, read about organizations that have taken bold steps and others that are working towards a strategy for change.


Creating a Culture of Change

Moving from good to great. Association leaders at all levels are embracing change and using it as a dynamic force for growth.

In the fourth quarter of 2018, MCI ran a research study into future-proof organizations. The purpose was to find out the biggest disruptors associations are facing, and the concrete actions they are taking to shape their future.

Some 63 percent of the respondents said their organizations had already taken steps to shape their future. To the question ‘what initiative(s) have you taken so far to stay ahead of the game?’, the top three answers were creating a culture of change and rethinking the way it’s always been done (64%), encouraging new ideas and approaches (45%) and adopting new programs, initiatives and tools (40%).

We asked association leaders to share some of their specific measures to create a culture of change and the impact it has had on their organization.

Breaking the Silos
One study revealed that 70 percent of customer experience professionals view silo mentality as the biggest obstacle to customer service. Silo mentality begins with management. The Society for Laboratory Automation and Screening (SLAS), has spent 2018 going through a major governance restructure to better address what it means for the organization to be a global entity and ensure that all the strategic areas are aligned and cross-communicating. “We have created a structure that allows for a better flow of communication between the Board and staff up and down. We have also identified the right authorities to translate that into actions” said SLAS’s Chief Executive Officer Vicki Loise.

Appoint a Chief Innovation Officer
The Chief Innovation Officer (CIO) is primarily responsible for managing the process of innovation and change management. The American College of Chest Physicians (CHEST) appointed its CIO in 2017. “Our CIO focuses on expanding CHEST’s lead in delivering innovative education through new and exciting products and courses, often featuring gamification and simulation,” shared Sue Reimbold, former Executive Director, CHEST Foundation. Fully integrated into the Executive Leadership Team, CHEST CIO’s new initiatives have generated $1.2 million in new revenue for the organization.

Include Innovation in Every Board Agenda
Close to 48 percent of respondents to our study said innovation isn’t openly discussed at Board level. At the same time, they rank ‘getting the leadership buy-in’ as the most important factor in enabling innovation in organizations. “At our recent strategic planning session for the society for the next 1-3 years innovation was one of the top five areas of importance,” said Lisa Astorga, Director of Meetings at the International Society on Thrombosis and Haemostasis (ISTH). “With technologies being a significant factor in innovations, and the speed at which this environment is changing being adaptable is key to staying on pace,” she added.

Develop a Strategy for Innovation
“Our organization has always considered itself innovative especially over the last two decades; and we are proud to have been instrumental in bringing new techniques and processes forward within our industry,” said Terry Head, President of the International Association of Movers (IAM). IAM has taken a series of bold moves, such as moving from its traditional printed hardback directory to creating a digital membership resource with the ultimate goal of becoming a ‘Universal Directory’ (including both members and non members) and centralized database for the profession. New Professional Development Programs have been promoted using this database and as a result have added non-dues revenue streams.

Improve Product Development and Management Practices
Nothing ventured, nothing gained. How do organizations successfully empower their community and leadership to take innovative actions or propose disruptive solutions? With less micro- management and by encouraging well-measured risk-taking. The American Concrete Institute (ACI) has created an environment that encourages ‘trying new things’. “We accept the resulting success or failure as part of the normal institutive activities,” said Bernard Pekor, Director of International Business Development.

Change Mindset. Think Like a Futurist
Change is on the way, but associations will be able to lead—rather than react—if they see it coming. ASAE’s ForesightWorks is an ongoing future-focused program of environmental scanning and trends analysis based on ASAE Foundation research. The National Association of Productivity & Organizing Professionals (NAPO) has taken a number of concrete steps to move the futures conversation forward. “Our Board has reviewed ASAE’s ForesightWorks summaries and identified the topics of greatest interest. Then, during our annual conference the volunteer leaders have engaged in a discussion about these top drivers of change with some 100 chapter leaders. We have also assigned a Board Member to serve as the champion for the NAPO Pathway to 2030 initiative,” shared Suzanne Pine, CAE, Senior Director.

Contact us



IFSO 2018 - a Year of Firsts

When disruptive ideas accelerate success and delegate engagement

A report from the World Health Organization found that nine Middle Eastern countries rank highest in the obesity statistics among adults aged 18 and above. The World Journal of Diabetes also revealed that the Middle Eastern and North African region has the second highest rate of increases in diabetes in the world and the number of people with diabetes is projected to increase by 96.2 percent by 2035. Alarming statistics such as these played a significant part in facilitating the decision by the International Federation for the Surgery of Obesity and Metabolic Disorder’s (IFSO) to choose Dubai as a destination to host the 2018 IFSO congress. A series of innovative ideas were introduced to the event ensuring awareness would be raised in the region and allow IFSO 2018 to be remembered as one of the highpoints from all IFSO’s congresses.

Simulation Centre – The ‘Superstar’ of IFSO 2018
The event hosted its first simulation center where delegates, alongside IFSO professionals, could perform live stitching and suturing on animal specimens. Some 20 stations with the latest endoscopy robotics were installed spanning over 200m2 of the exhibition. Over the three days, 600 delegates were given the opportunity to work and enhance their learning while being supervised by qualified trainers.

First-ever IFSO Medical Court Session
Delegates were enlightened with the first-ever medical court session which was brought to life with actual lawyers and judges along with a panel of experts. Held in the main plenary and open to all delegates, participants to the courtroom were invited to define medical responsibility and its limits, the relationship between the doctor’s action and the harm to the patients.

The Debut of IFSO’s First Fencing Matches
Hosted in one of the breakout sessions, the five fencing matches consisted of two doctors, head to head, engaged in a riveting 10-15-minute debate with a panel of participants scoring them. The doctors used this new method to present their arguments on specific topics and were evaluated on the quality of the content presented.

A Video Championship
For the first time, the program committee incorporated online video submissions as part of IFSO’s requirements. Some 171 videos were selected and presented in a designated section in the exhibition area. The top 20 videos were shown during sessions. At the same time a world bariatric video championship and emergencies online courses were launched during the event.

IFSO 2018 by numbers
sessions and courses
abstracts submitted


Re-energize the Tradition

Gala fatigue is a very real thing in the non-profit world. Guests to galas usually support causes that are meaningful to them either personally or professionally and do so year after year. So how do you keep things fresh when the city, guest list and your mission doesn’t change from year to year? For its 21st annual Night of Hope, The National Infertility Association (RESOLVE), an MCI USA client since 2007, wanted to put a fresh spin on a very traditional gala event with several new tactics.

  • The theme “Party for a Purpose” was changed to “A Family Affair” which represents RESOLVE’s mission.
  • The event was live-streamed on the organization’s online/social media community.
  • Instead of a traditional Master of Ceremonies, a team of improv actors was hired to interact with the record-breaking 475 guests.
  • RESOLVE took their “family affair” theme and worked with a photographer so the guests could create their own family photo.

Contact us



Honoring 40 Years of Leadership

For the 40th anniversary of the European Society for Clinical Nutrition (ESPEN) congress celebrated in Madrid, Spain, the Chairman wanted to mark this memorable occasion with something special.

So, MCI Geneva suggested creating a timeline, retracing the last 40 years of the organization. A 52.5-meter-long timeline, composed of 21 panels, was placed on the moving walkway showing the full history of the ESPEN congresses, including all the presidents and officials since 1979. It took some four months to collect all historical data from the organization’s archives and the current and past leadership, scan the relevant documents, organize the information chronologically and for the designers to rework the old images.

For the occasion, the granddaughter of Prof. Arvid Wretlind (referred to as the “grandfather of parental nutrition” and for whom the award is named) was invited as a “surprise guest” and presented the award to the winner after the lecture.

Contact us


Magnetic Attraction

Five Tips to Make Membership Irresistible with Your Magazine

At its best, an association magazine is the premier vehicle for insights and information within your industry or field. A well-done magazine is also the perfect ambassador to showcase an organization to prospective members. Here are five ways to show non-members what they are missing.

  1. Up the Quantity
    Mail a copy to prospective members so they can experience the advantages of membership.
  2. Engage Visually
    Entice readers to open the cover with a teaser: ‘This is what you’ve been missing!’.
  3. Track Performances
    Create an exclusive landing page or provide a promo code to track the mailing and measure ROI.
  4. Make an Introduction
    Create a stand- alone abbreviated “introductory issue” targeted to prospective members.
  5. Open Access
    Allow open access to a select digital issue of your magazine once a year.

Contact us

Expand Reach

Engaging the Public

Through the vision of a strong committee, the International Ornithologists’ Union (IOU) annual event went from a traditional scientific congress of 1,500 avian researchers and conservationists to the first-ever IOCongress and Vancouver International Bird Festival.

With the support of MCI Canada, the seven-day congress and festival went beyond the traditional program and gathered some 8,000 ornithologists, conservationists, and “birders” (bird enthusiasts) in Vancouver, Canada. The Opening Ceremony kicked off with a 200+ person bird parade with people on stilts wearing locally made bird costumes and the unveiling of four limited edition stamps from Canada Post in honor of the event. The expo featured 1,000 scientific posters, 80+ exhibitors and opened the door to both delegates and the general public over a six-day period. The centerpiece of the expo was the “Silent Skies Mural” which featured portraits of endangered bird species painted by professional artists and local school children. In addition, a speaker series open to the public featured 2017 Whitley Award-winner Purnima Barman and acclaimed science and nature writer Jennifer Ackerman.

Because of the unique program and collaboration with local partners, the event earned 54 million media impressions, 245K Twitter impressions, 150+ press mentions, on-air coverage on four local broadcasting organizations, and press mentions on nine international online media outlets.

Contact us


Disruption is Everywhere, But What Does it Mean for Associations?

Some 40 to 90 percent of innovations never become a commercial success. Disruption means change, and consumer resistance to change is human nature. We asked association leaders what their biggest disruptor is, how they enable innovation in their organization, and who is responsible for driving it.

Market disruptors causing associations to be better, faster, cheaper… and smarter:

CEO and C-level functions have the responsibility of driving innovation for 50% of the association surveyed.

Data from the research study ‘Is your organization future-proof’.

Contact us

Interview: Johan Vos, FIGO

Congress Raises World Concerns

FIGO World Congress, Brazil
Johan Vos

The International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) is a global organization representing 130 national societies of obstetricians and gynecologists around the globe. With an average of 8,000 participants, the FIGO World Congress held in Brazil recorded an impressive 20 percent increase in participants. Johan Vos, Chief Executive, shares with us the innovative ideas implemented during the event, and how the multi-language campaign has helped raise world concern about woman’s health.

FIGO 2018 was the biggest congress ever. How did you achieve this?
Johan Vos: We developed a series of innovative tactics aimed at boosting abstract submissions, registrations and increasing the overall visibility of the event. For this, new initiatives were introduced around three main areas: communication, education and partnerships.

Can you share some of these new initiatives and their results?
Vos: One initiative was the introduction of the ‘Hello Doctors’ sessions consisting of 15-minute speeches whereby women with a personal experience of a serious women’s health and/or rights issue were invited to share their story and raise awareness about these issues. Never in the history of FIGO have we seen session rooms with so many attendees. The rooms were full, and the audience gave a standing ovation for every Hello Doctors speaker.

Another area where we concentrated efforts was in strengthening partnerships with our member societies by providing them with the best support possible to attend the congress, including free registrations for their Presidents, reduced group registrations, free stands in the exhibition and sessions within the scientific program. Finally, we launched a three-language digital campaign, in English, Spanish and Portuguese, using Google and Facebook and the hashtag #EveryWomanMatters in all communications. This campaign not only helped raise the profile of the organization globally but also contributed to the 20 percent increase in registration numbers and the 25 percent increase in sponsorship revenues.

Tell us more about the hashtag #EveryWomanMatters?
Vos: From mainly focusing on medical issues, FIGO has repositioned itself to fully embrace the wider topic of women’s health and this is reflected by our congress and other events covering cutting-edge science as well as public health and policy. We see physicians and other related healthcare professionals as key stakeholders for women’s health and rights, and we want FIGO to be the global voice for women’s health. The popular hashtag contributed to reaching a community of almost 175,000 Facebook followers and has increased our Google search by 301 percent.

Can you share your fondest memory of the FIGO 2018 congress?
Vos: FIGO’s vision is for women of the world to achieve the highest possible standards of physical, mental, reproductive and sexual health and wellbeing throughout their lives and 2018 was the year of change. Looking at this year’s success, I feel we have brought together the whole community of women, healthcare professionals, researchers, campaigners and policymakers to work towards this vision and raised global awareness about women’s health issues.

FIGO by numbers
increase in sponsorship sales
Inside View
Juarez Carvalho
Director of Operations, MCI Brazil

With so many unexpected participants, how did you manage to solve onsite logistical challenges?
Juarez Carvalho: With 3,000 extra participants, we had to rethink the initial congress planning and layout. To make sure nothing was left on the side, we created a ‘crisis committee’ to solve day-today challenges, such as the reallocation of rooms and the creation of extra spaces overnight to avoid overcrowded rooms. The committee, composed of staff and leaders, would meet every morning before show time. The onsite team demonstrated incredible proactivity in finding last-minute solutions.

With half of the participants coming from the LatAm region, how did you ensure the local community would get their own visibility?
Carvalho: The language of the congress is English so to make sure all LatAm participants would get access to content, we organized simultaneous translation in both Spanish and Portuguese. A special track to address local challenges was designed for the Brazilian attendees with the support of the Brazilian Federation of Associations of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FEBRASGO). To ensure the local community was engaged from the start, preliminary researches were done to engage with Brazilian academics.

What achievement are you most proud of for FIGO 2018?
Carvalho: Women’s health is a concern not only in Brazil but everywhere in the world. For this reason, I am extremely proud to have contributed to the success of this global congress and somehow help raise awareness. FIGO’s leadership was always very open to our discussions which contributed to the smooth execution of the event. Seeing the satisfaction from all stakeholders, delegates, speakers, sponsors, exhibitors and FIGO’s leadership is to me the biggest personal achievement.

Contact us


Conceivable Permutation

The Festivalization of Events

Creating Emotional Intergenerational Synergies with a New Engagement Model

Associations, once the exclusive providers of content and networking opportunities to their communities, are now rethinking their value proposition to differentiate themselves from an extremely competitive environment.

At the same time association audiences are getting younger and technology enabled with access to information and networking from their device at any time. They no longer have to wait for the annual event to connect with their peers, learn, exchange or get their certification.

Disrupted Expectations
As with most organizations, membership-driven associations have difficulties in embracing change. It is easier and more comfortable to stay with the ‘tried and tested’ event approach than trying something new. But relying on traditional and familiar approaches will not be sufficient to fulfill these changing and more demanding audiences. To attract a wider multigenerational audience, association events must offer even more relevancy, content value, innovation and quality of the experience. Associations leaders must rethink their models to create event strategies that generate disrupted expectations through constant provocations.

The Value of Festivalized Experiences
Festivalization of meetings is a convergence of live user experiences and human-machine interfaces. In the last few years the trend has increased significantly, and associations are starting to see it as way to better engage their communities.

With an average of 82,000+ ‘campuseros’ in attendance, Campus Party is the largest global technology festival encompassing innovation, creativity, science, digital entertainment and entrepreneurship. Using a combination of online and offline experiences including hackathons, augmented reality, AI, Machine Learning, blockchain, and cyborgs, as well as live music performances and exhibition, the event is successfully blending experiences that speak to all generations and create spontaneous interactions between participants in unprecedented ways.

Show Me the Love
Attendees’ expectations increase as the time available decreases, and the search for happiness and experience become key drivers. Today’s events that stimulate people’s feelings and emotions, both professional and personal, are the ones that combine the traditional approach, content, exhibition, and connection with unexpected experiences. Festivals are those events that make the live experience more complete. They provoke intentional encounters and help build sustainable, coherent and fair relationships between participants and sponsors.

Finding a balance between what is perceived to have worked in the past with what needs to change for the future is hard. But if done right, it will boost engagement, drive conversation and create an experience which people will recall and share with others.

Get it right!

  1. Events are made by people for people
    Be authentic
  2. Engage
    the audience
  3. Make sure it
    adds value to participants
  4. Make the link
    with the overall theme

Contact Us

Let our association experts help with your challenges and unlock opportunities.

    * = mandatory

      * = mandatory