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The Data to Make Your Decision

Increasing Your Business
When I run across an interesting new blog, I devour it like a good book, and that’s what happened when I discovered Shelly Alcorn’s Association Subculture.

As I read Shelly’s five-part series on associations at risk, I kept thinking of conversations I’d had - or, sometimes, quiet observations I’d made - in my work with some of my favourite organizations. And I saw more than a few questions that went along with the answers in the Pulse Report that Greenfield published last fall to document some of the major issues facing Canada’s associations.

One of the most important themes - and one of the riskiest for organizations that lose track of it - is the need to ground decisions in the best available data. It’s a simple rule that organizations can forget when they get over-confident, and when that happens, disaster may be just around the corner.

“A confident organization exudes a certain sense of capability and attention to detail,” Shelly writes in the first of her five posts. “Hubris goes a step further, where capability becomes unassailable and attention to detail either all-consuming or irrelevant, depending on the temperament of the board in question.”

Your executives or managers may be losing touch with their data if they've fallen into the habit of:
  • Assuming that their intuitions, instincts, or brainstorms - brilliant as they may be - can translate directly into action, with no research or validation
  • Assuming that their way is the only right way
  • Making decisions without seeking input from members, sponsors, colleagues, or other stakeholders
  • Missing out on the golden opportunity to listen to the wider community via social media
  • Failing to explain major decisions.
It isn't that you can or should consult endlessly on every small decision or detail: people are busier than ever, and survey fatigue is a very real concern. But you must strike a careful balance by taking a pulse when you need to, then moving ahead with confidence when you have enough information to choose a direction.

The good news is that the tools to gather that information - from online surveys to social media management and analytics - are more sophisticated and accessible than ever. But whether you do your own research, call for professional assistance, or do a bit of both, you should always pause to ask the right questions to guide your most important decisions and strategies.