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Success is measured by….?

According to this poster, which hangs in my childrens’ school (and I’ve seen it in other schools, too), success is measured by effort.

But nothing could be further from the truth.

Success is measured by clearly measurable objectives. How does one measure “effort”?  Imagine telling your members that the recent annual meeting, which saw a 25% drop in attendance, was a success, because you made a great effort. You think they would buy it?

What are they teaching our children?

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  • David Janes

    Excellent point Wes, but those objectives also need to be somewhat flexible. Think of the man trying to invent a new superglue at 3M and found a sticky substance that wouldn’t dry. Was he a failure? The Post-It(tm) brand would disagree. Sometimes “failure” is really a success.

  • Wes Trochlil

    I agree totally. My point is that “effort” is being encouraged, when “effort” is rarely what we need to accomplish our goals. Yes, some effort will cause us to stumble upon great new inventions or ideas, but those are clearly the exception.

  • David Janes

    I think that depends on the field of endeavor. In science, “failures” are often more instructive than “successes” and teaching a child that just because they get a different result they have somehow failed is probably not serving them well. Perhaps it is more important to teach that failure happens and is not necessarily bad, particularly if it can be explained (this is different from being excused, by the way).

    Have you read “Being Wrong”?

  • Wes Trochlil

    Haven’t read it, but will check it out.

    I’m not disputing the value of failure. I believe strongly that we learn far more from our failures than our successes. But I’d bet that just about any “failure” in a science endeavor had some ultimate objective in mind, and that the objective wasn’t “making an effort.” 😉

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“Wes was able to come in and offer tangible, relevant advice that made us more productive immediately. I value his understanding of databases but more so, his understanding of how nonprofits work. There was no lost time educating him about how membership organizations are “different.” Wes recommended changes in processes as well as tips and tricks that were easy to implement made an immediate positive impact.”

Mary Pat Paris, Executive Director
International Registration Plan

“We came to Wes because we were very frustrated with our existing AMS and we wanted to improve our capabilities as soon as practicable. Wes very quickly helped us through a process of identifying our needs, identifying potential vendors, and selecting a new system that we’ll be able to move into very quickly. I especially appreciated Wes’s candor about our processes as well as the systems we were looking at. He was a great resource to have in a period of high anxiety for our organization. I would highly recommend Wes for any similar project.”

Jack Chiasson, CMP Executive Director
National Association of Life Brokerage Agencies

“Wes was able to come in and offer tangible, relevant advice that made us more productive immediately. I value his understanding of databases but more so, his understanding of how nonprofits work. There was no lost time educating him about how membership organizations are “different.” Wes recommended changes in processes as well as tips and tricks that were easy to implement made an immediate positive impact.”

Mary Pat Paris, Executive Director
International Registration Plan

Mary Pat Paris
International Registration Plan

“This is the second database implementation we’ve done since I have been at Western Arts Alliance (WAA). The first I did on my own. This time we engaged Wes Trochlil as our database planning consultant. Let me tell you, this process is a whole lot easier having Wes on your team! For a small association like WAA, it’s tempting for board and EDs to question the justification and expense of a database planning consultant. But it’s the small associations that need Effective Database Management the most. Wes strengthened our planning process, clarified our needs requirements, helped us steer around solutions that couldn’t meet our objectives, and saved us money in the long haul.”

Tim Wilson, Executive Director
Western Arts Alliance

Tim Wilson
Western Arts Alliance
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