Susan Carpenter

Susan Carpenter

Editor’s Note: The following column by Recreational Vehicle Aftermarket Association (RVAA) President Susan Carpenter examining the need to embrace change, particularly as it applies to the role of associations. The 2017 RVAA Executive Conference is scheduled for Aug. 14-18 in San Diego.

Even though we often fear it, change is one of the few things guaranteed in life. Leadership guru John C. Maxwell said it best: “Change is inevitable. Growth is optional.”

Often we see the world through threat-tinted glasses, fearful of stepping into the unknown beyond comforting predictability. This fear can cause rigidity and reduce our natural ability to innovate, transform and positively adapt (qualities fundamental if we are to survive, let alone thrive, in these volatile times). In fact, many business gurus argue that companies and industries now face increased levels of dynamic change (change upon change upon change) due to stresses in our economies, societies and natural world leading to increased volatility.

The RVAA board has been watching the RV industry change all around us. We have all been affected in some way. So what does that mean for RVAA? Well, we are looking at it as an opportunity to examine how we have adapted, or not adapted, to the change happening around us.

At the beginning of my term as RVAA president, I asked that all of our board members read the book, “Race for Relevance: 5 Radical Changes for Associations.” It provided us with a bold, no-nonsense look at the realities of today’s association environment and what it will take for associations to prosper in the future.

After folding-in many of the lessons from that book into a strategic planning meeting, we developed several strategic objectives. One is to align ourselves with our sister associations: the RV Dealers Association (RVDA) and the RV Industry Association (RVIA). Over the past year or so, we have been talking a lot with them – learning more about their vision for the industry and where there may be synergies and opportunities for partnership. One thing seems crystal clear: we are all facing a lot of the same issues.

Change is inevitable. In our businesses. For our association. And adapting to change is often easier when the lines of communication are open in our industry. We value our relationships with our fellow RV industry organizations and look forward to working more closely with them in 2017.