A few months ago, I was having a discussion with some smart association peeps, and we got talking about the fact that, in membership organizations, it’s not so much that we fear failure for its own sake. What we really fear is criticism – from our colleagues and bosses, sure, but even more so from our members and boards.
Because of that, we’re change-averse, decision-averse, and completion-averse. If I keep working on a project forever, and never roll it out, no one can ever find anything wrong with it, right?
The thing is, all those partially completed projects that should’ve been done in 6 weeks but drag on for 6 months weigh us down. If it’s never finished, you never get to check that one off and move on to the next project or idea. You never even get to move on to the 1.2 version of the current project.
We get so caught up in the “everything has to be PERFECT” mindset that we shut out our members and their ideas and opinions, and make them passive consumers rather than active partners.
What if, rather than waiting until we had everything just so to roll out our new member service, we went to our members with: “This is a new service we’re considering. We don’t have all the kinks worked out yet, so we know some of you will want to wait to check it out until it’s in a more completed form. And that’s fine. But for those of you who are willing to try something that may not be 100% functioning yet, we’d love it if you could test it and give us your feedback so we can make sure that, once it is fully ready, it truly meets your needs and is easy for you to use.”?
What would that world look like? How much more engaged would your members be? How would that change their perception of ownership in your association? How would that impact relationships between staff, members and board? How much faster could you move? How much more could you provide for your members?