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Finding an Orphan a Better Home
Associations set up special interest groups (SIGs) when members want to focus on particular aspects of their shared work or pursue specialized interests within the broader industry.  In most cases, those interests are closely related to the core mission of the association.  But sometimes, interests diverge. 

Strategic Shifts
An association in the telecommunications industry had, as a result of strategic changes, a special interest group it no longer knew what to do with.  The members were local governments around the world.  They had joined the association because it started out advocating for advanced communications as a tool for economic development.  But over the years, the association's mission shifted to focus exclusively on commercial telecom, leaving the governmental members increasingly isolated and underserved. 

Creating an Independent Organization

When the Board of the association decided to stop supporting the SIG, a set of dedicated members chose to spin it out as an independent organization.  We became its manager.  Within six years, we translated the special interest group into a successful think tank – supported both by the original association members and commercial players in information technology and communications. 

From SIG to Think Tank

The think ank launched research, produced an annual conference, and conducted an international awards program that drew participation from four continents.  Over a seven-year period, the award program honored more than 100 communities in the Americas, Europe and Asia, many of which became active supporters of the organization.  The methodology developed to select award winners became a set of metrics that the think tank provided to local governments around the world seeking to measure and boost their performance.  And the think tank's research and recommendations were cited by leading publications, consulting organizations and inter-governmental groups in North America, Europe and Asia, while high-tech CEOs, Communications Ministers and mayors of major cities called the think tank a thought leader in the 21st Century

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