Taking Prudent Risks

In this tip, I discuss how considering “worst-case” scenarios can help you decide whether or not to do something. There has been an interesting thread on one of the ASAE listservers about the “risk” of putting the membership directory online (and ceasing publication of a print directory).

Anecdotally, about five associations said they had moved to an online-only directory with little to no comment or complaint from their membership. Just one association had the opposite experience: They moved their directory online, stopped publishing the print directory, and got lots of complaints from their members. They ultimately decided to go back to a printed directory.

In all cases, including the one that failed, the association took a prudent risk and waited for the results. Whether they considered it or not, their worst-case scenario was one where the membership complained and they would have to move back to a printed directory; no harm, no foul.

These are great illustrations of how small risks can pay big rewards; and even when the experiment fails, the “damage” done is minimal and life goes on.

What risks is your association taking?

About Wes Trochlil

For over 30 years, Wes has worked in and with dozens of associations and membership organizations throughout the US, ranging in size from zero staff (all-volunteer) to over 700. In that time Wes has provided a range of consulting services, from general consulting on data management issues to full-scale, association-wide selection and implementation of association management systems.

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