Wes's Weekly Wisdom Archives

Be deliberate, but act quickly

October 23, 2019

Be deliberate, but act quickly Be deliberate, but act quickly. These are my words of advice when it comes to selecting and implementing a new AMS. Be deliberate…make sure you’re putting in the time to figure out what you need from an AMS and which vendors are the best possible fit. And during implementation, make …

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Why associations don’t like the “S” word

October 16, 2019

Why associations don’t like the “S” word A couple of weeks ago I asked my readers why associations seem to fear the word “sales.” I received dozens of responses here and on LinkedIn (thanks to everyone who responded!). The reasons I heard seemed to fall into the following three categories: Associations are non-profits, and “sales” suggests profit. As …

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The “S” stands for “Standard”

October 9, 2019

The “S” stands for “Standard” In a conversation with a past client, we were discussing the importance of standard operating procedures (SOPs) when managing data. I refer to this, generically, as documentation. Your processes need to be written down so that staff knows how to manage the data. My client pointed out that one of …

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Is that meaningless data?

September 25, 2019

Is that meaningless data? I’m not a big quotes guy, but one of the few I love comes from Peter Drucker in The Effective Executive: “”The greatest wisdom not applied to action and behavior is meaningless data.” Put another way: If the data tells you something but you don’t act on it, that data is useless. …

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Be aware of unintended consequences

September 18, 2019

Be aware of unintended consequences I’ve written before that every decision involves a trade-off. When considering the trade-offs that every decision requires, you should also keep in mind any unintended consequences that the decision may create. Consider the following example: A client of mine recently changed AMSes. As part of that change, members have to …

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Positive change is harder to see

September 11, 2019

Positive change is harder to see Humans are wired to see negative change because we need to protect ourselves; a negative change is seen as a risk and a danger. Positive change is much more difficult to see; there’s no risk involved. Think about it this way: When there’s a negative change with your data (e.g., …

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MVP: Minimum Viable Product

September 4, 2019

MVP: Minimum Viable Product In product development there is a concept known as MVP, or minimum viable product. Simply put, this means getting the product out into the market with the least amount of features, in order to get customer feedback and to just get something out there! This concept can be applied in multiple …

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You always need a reason for collecting data

August 28, 2019

You always need a reason for collecting data When you ask for data from someone (member, customer, prospect, etc.) there has to be a clear reason the person you’re asking will provide that data. (The reason needs to be clear to the consumer!) If you’re selling a membership or event registration, asking for contact info, …

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If you’re unhappy, speak up!

August 21, 2019

If you’re unhappy, speak up! My clients will often ask me something along the lines of the following: “I’m not happy with how this project is going. Should I say something to the vendor?” My answer is always the same, regardless of circumstance: Yes! Say something! You never want your vendor to say to you …

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Does it advance the mission?

August 14, 2019

Does it advance the mission? Because associations are mission-driven, everything you do should be seen through the prism of this question: “Does it advance the mission?” This applies to everything you do in your database, too. Does the data you’re collecting help advance your mission? Does the software you’re using allow you to extract and analyze …

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How should you start a new data project?

August 7, 2019

How should you start a new data project? When you’ve got a new data project on the horizon, and you’re feeling overwhelmed about where to start, what’s the best way to start? Here’s my answer (and stick with me now): Just start! Take one action! Do something that will move you one step closer to …

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A Data Integrity Report…for Reports!

July 29, 2019

I’ve written elsewhere about the value of data integrity reports. But one of the most common complaints I hear from my clients is that the actual list of reports within their AMS is so unwieldy, they wind up creating new reports (or queries) because they don’t really know what reports they have or what they do. …

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Simple rules for complex systems

July 28, 2019

Simple rules for complex systems I first heard the phrase “simple rules for complex systems” from Jonah Goldberg, who was commenting on rules for political/social systems. But I think this maxim is very applicable to data management. After all, most AMS systems are complex, so the rules that manage them should be as simple as possible. …

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Accentuate the positive

July 24, 2019

Accentuate the positive I’ve written before about the importance of database public relationsand celebrating success. I’ll add a third piece of wisdom to this collection: focus on your triumphs rather than your failures. Or as the old song goes, accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative. In our jobs as data managers, much of our day is spent trying …

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Annual dues vs. anniversary dues

July 10, 2019

Annual dues vs. anniversary dues I served as director of membership for several years at a couple of different associations. When talking with my fellow association membership pros, the question often arose: Which is best; anniversary dues or annual dues? Some quick definitions: anniversary dues are dues that are renewed a year after the member joins …

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A change of systems requires a change of mindset

July 8, 2019

Every AMS vendor will tell you that the toughest part of implementing a new system is getting the association staff to think differently about the new AMS. And this isn’t just limited to changing processes (although that is incredibly important). It’s also about changing mindset. What do I mean by changing mindset? Here are three …

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It doesn’t have to be optimal to be beneficial

June 26, 2019

It doesn’t have to be optimal to be beneficial I’m a big fan of the author James Clear (https://jamesclear.com/) who writes about the formation of habits. I believe (good!) habits are an important element of success (I’ve written about it before.) In a recent blog post, Clear wrote: “Just because it’s not optimal, doesn’t mean it’s …

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Look for small wins

June 19, 2019

Look for small wins One of the toughest things about system implementation is simply how long it takes to complete one. And so keeping momentum and staff interest in the project is paramount. By month six of implementation, staff can be pretty burned out. I always recommend to my clients that throughout implementation they look for …

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Are you closing the loop?

June 12, 2019

Are you closing the loop? If your association does a call for presentations for any of your events, do you provide feedback to those submitters whose presentations were not accepted? Or do you simply send a generic “Thanks for applying but your presentation was not accepted” note? If you’re not providing feedback on WHY the …

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Declare victory and move on

June 5, 2019

Declare victory and move on The law of diminishing returns is the point at which the amount of benefits gained is less than the amount of money or energy invested. My experience with my clients is that sometimes it’s easy to lose sight of this rule. Like a dog with a bone, sometimes we’ll encounter a …

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