I really hope this posts in the right place of this site as I'm finding it a little hard to navigate!
At any rate I wanted to add some thoughts from the RSA's perspective about what we'd like to see from this project.
I suppose the trend that all this discussion is trying to capture is the journey from 'membership' organisations to 'movements', and what that means for the nature, structure, purpose, and business models of existing membership organisations. No mean feat to cover all of this and as someone with a thinktank background the breadth of the issues being asked here makes me a little nervous.
So I'd like to propose that alongside all the ongoing work around products, services, consultancy and the rest that we generate through this process, we should actually invest in a research phase, in the sense of both desk-based and action research work.
For me I would like this phase to cover the following questions:
- What are the links between membership and identity?
- Do we care more or less about 'belonging' now, and what places/people/movements do we want to belong to?
These kinds of questions are part of some work that's important in any futures exercise, which is understanding the drivers for changes in society. It would be interesting to think about the full range of drivers that are having an impact on the world of membership organisations. Clearly social media is one example of a really important driver; what are some others?
Then there's another part of the research which is more about describing the world as it is now - for example who's joining membership organisations, how are they working now, what do they do to engage their members and so on.
I will think further about how we might structure some research along these lines, but in the meantime I'd welcome comments from others participating on this site...