Individually, organisations and practitioners in any field find it difficult, slow and often overwhelming to make sustained industry change. The problem is that there is either one lone voice for change or that individuals and organisations cannot find enough time and resources to coordinate action. Peak bodies are in a unique position to influence change in an industry, on behalf of their members. Yet, peak bodies can be trapped by responding primarily to day-to-day issues, or, by dealing with reactive advocacy and lobbying, rather than delivering strategic change. The challenge is for them to identify a limited, focused agenda that delivers real change. By identifying and selecting the two or three change levers, then creating a tight agenda based on these levers, sustained change is possible.
The challenge is also to find the right timeframe and resource mix to be able to scan and interpret the environment for disruptive change from other industries. Traditionally, industry groups have shaped legislation by engaging with government at all levels. Now communities must also be engaged to build social licenses to operate, whether environmental, community or single issues of concern.
With the concept of membership in decline, whether union, peak body or sporting club, peak bodies and associations need to find new ways of generating value and revenue. These positive operational levers are essential for relevance and longevity.