Wes's Weekly Wisdom Archives

Some Things Just Take Time

September 16, 2020

Some Things Just Take Time I learned recently that an elephant’s gestation period is 18 months. It takes 18 months for an elephant to have a baby elephant. It’s also a fact that three elephants can’t make a baby elephant in six months. There is no shortcut; it takes one elephant 18 months. The same is …

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Sometimes It’s the Least Bad Choice

September 7, 2020

Sometimes It’s the Least Bad Choice Just like in life, sometimes when we’re making technology or management decisions, we’re faced with few good choices. And very often I’ll tell my clients, what we’re looking to do is make the “least bad” choice. For example, during a new system implementation, the vendor will ask for “blackout” …

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Our Members Aren’t Tech Savvy

September 2, 2020

Our Members Aren’t Tech Savvy Having worked now in the association space for more than 30 years, I’ve heard my share of association executives utter the phrase “Our members aren’t very tech savvy.” This phrase is often followed with (or preceded by) “Our members are older.” (And this is typically related to the members not …

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Motion vs. Action

August 26, 2020

Motion vs. Action One key to successful data management is understanding the difference between motion and action. Simply put, motion = planning but action = doing. Too often we spend a lot of time planning out all the different ways we’ll improve our data management. We make plans to clean the data, to establish clear business rules, …

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There is ALWAYS a Trade-off

August 19, 2020

There is ALWAYS a Trade-off I’ve written many times about trade-offs (you can read a bunch here). In short, every decision you make, whether you realize it or not, involves a trade-off. And recent news reminded me once again, that not only are there always trade-offs, but often they are unseen. This article explains how …

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Little by little, a little becomes a lot

August 12, 2020

Little by little, a little becomes a lot “Little by little, a little becomes a lot.” I don’t know where I first read it (a google search says it’s a Tanzanian proverb; I’m dubious), but I love the phrase, especially as it relates to data management. One of the many challenges of data management is …

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Why do we treat data management differently?

August 5, 2020

Why do we treat data management differently? A recent post on ASAE’s community read: “Looking for recommendations for assistance with understanding how we can use our AMS more efficiently and effectively. Small international association, no in-house IT, and our staff AMS admin has left. Any suggestions?” On the surface there is nothing wrong with this request. …

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Don’t Forget Your Speakers!

July 29, 2020

Don’t Forget Your Speakers! A phenomenon I’ve noticed over the years is that my clients will manage speaker data outside of the primary AMS. Often this data is managed in spreadsheets or in a third-party event registration system. And too often, this data never makes its way back into the primary AMS. The key data point, that a …

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90% of your data is never touched a second time

July 22, 2020

90% of your data is never touched a second time I heard recently on a podcast that 95% of all the art New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art collects is never actually displayed in the museum. It’s stored in a warehouse in New Jersey! Which got me to thinking; how much of the data that we …

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Newton’s First Law

July 15, 2020

Newton’s First Law Part of Newton’s First Law states that “…an object in motion stays in motion…” What does this have to do with data management? Quite a bit, actually. One of the many challenges of data management is the constant grind of keeping data clean. (I refer to this as “weeding the garden.”) With most …

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No System is Perfect

July 7, 2020

No System is Perfect While it may sound trite, it bears repeating that no data management system is perfect. I have yet to meet an association executive who thinks their system works perfectly. And yet, very often we’ll spend hours trying to find “perfect” software or trying to design the “perfect” data management process. The reality is, if …

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Data Accretes

July 1, 2020

Data Accretes One of my very first jobs in the association world was managing the production of a printed directory, a buyer’s guide. Within this buyer’s guide was a list of over 500 different “categories” of equipment. And each time the directory was updated, the number of categories expanded (members always had some new super-special category that didn’t fit …

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Don’t be so lazy…

June 24, 2020

Don’t be so lazy… One of the things that attracted me to the software world is how good software can really make your life easier. As I like to (half) joke, I’m incredibly lazy, so I like the software to do as much of the work for me as possible. But the reality is, sometimes …

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Don’t try to do everything at go-live

June 17, 2020

Don’t Try to do Everything at Go-live When implementing a new AMS, there is a tendency to try to get everything done and “in the system” prior to go-live. After all, you’ve got this shiny new system with all kinds of new functionality. Why not go for it and have it do everything it can …

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Make sure your system has broad support

June 10, 2020

Make sure your system has broad support An AMS vendor pointed out to me recently the danger of buying a new AMS (or any enterprise software, for that matter) based on the passion of one person. As he put it, “I have seen this more than a handful of times, but when that one person drives …

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You have to have the right people in place

June 10, 2020

You have to have the right people in place This may seem obvious, but I’ll say it anyway: All the best technology and all the correct processes can’t fix people. If your staff won’t do the work, it won’t get done. I’ve had clients in the past who struggled with getting their systems to work. They spent …

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Ask “What” not “Why”

June 3, 2020

Ask “What” not “Why” As a consultant, one of my favorite questions to ask my clients is “Why?” As in, “Why are you doing that?” Asking “why” can be an effective way of determining if a process is actually doing what is expected or needed. But I recently came across an article that referenced the book …

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Engagement is measured by the customer

May 27, 2020

Engagement is Measured by the Customer I’ve written a bunch about measuring engagement in the past. (Click here to read one of my favorites.) But one thing that’s critically important to understand is that ultimately, engagement is not measured by the association, but by the member or customer. Click here for an example of what I mean. For some …

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Yes, you do have a process for that

May 13, 2020

Yes, you do have a process for that When I work with clients on pretty much any issue, a question commonly asked is “What is your process for doing X?” (For example, “What’s your process for onboarding new members?”) Very often my client will respond “We don’t have a process for that.” But that answer …

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“Correct your mistakes before they become your habits”

May 6, 2020

“Correct your mistakes before they become your habits” Yet another great quote from James Clear: “Correct your mistakes before they become your habits.” In the data management world, you might hear this more commonly as “We’ve always done it that way.” The following is a true story: During a conversation with a client, I learned that after …

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