My advice? Stop doing that

My advice? Stop doing that!

There is a classic TV sketch featuring Bob Newhart as a therapist. He helps his patients overcome their issues by using two magic words: "Stop it." (You can see the clip here: The sketch is funny because his advice is incredibly simple but obviously very difficult to apply.

Remarkably, this is the advice I often give my clients when they're struggling with a particular data management issue. Because very often, the troubles are self-inflicted. The association has created incredibly arcane and complex business rules that just serve to make life more difficult, not easier. I've probably seen hundreds of examples of this. Here are just a few examples of business rules that are making data management more difficult, not easier:

  • Membership rules are different for members from one state (i.e., all states have the same member rules EXCEPT one state).
  • Requiring staff to review membership applications prior to accepting payment (so payment has to be collected later, not during the application process), even though 99.5% of applicants are accepted.
  • Asking a dozen questions on an event registration form that are unrelated to the event itself.

What all of these examples have in common is that they make data management more difficult and every one of them is self-inflicted. The associations chose to put these rules in place.

So when a client asks me "How can we improve this process?" my answer often is "Stop it. Stop doing what you're doing, because it's actually making things worse, not better."

Take a look at the processes in your organization. What can you stop doing, right now, that will improve data management?

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