New organizations have an energy, an excitement, related to a new technology that has the promise to open up new global markets and significantly change or enhance the way companies or individuals use technology-based products or services. During the start-up phase, the founders likely have a clear vision as to the technology’s value, what benefits it will provide and a sense for how to differentiate the technology from both existing products and from other approaches being brokered by competitive coalitions. They want to build a collaborative organization that provides a role for large and small companies alike to contribute to the development of a standard(s), agree on a specification and get the word out quickly and effectively using all available communications tools. There is a sense of urgency: the more time that passes, the more likely it is that another solution could gain the competitive edge. Given a compelling message, competitors, contributors and adopters will come on board ready to write a check and volunteer resources to ensure that the technology gains maximum traction and that needed standards are in place to allow individual companies to develop and differentiate their products. The world can be a wonderful place for a new alliance or consortium.
Fast-forward three to five years down the road: the initial standards work has been completed and rolled out to the marketplace. There’s been some turnover in the leadership; some energetic founding Board members have left to pursue newer, more exciting areas. It’s become hard to get volunteers to sign up to head committees, working group attendance is down, membership renewals are lagging. Everyone agrees that a decision needs to be made on the future of the organization. Can it be resuscitated or is it time to shutter the doors?
This is a time when the leadership needs to take a good hard look at the organization and decide the best course of action, by working out the answers to tough questions like these: