Associations can be incredibly innovative and groundbreaking at times: cutting edge membership social media outreaches; creative member value benefits packages; and insightful target communications are not uncommon. But sometimes, associations can be better known for creating a really great program and then doing it again and again and again, until it just is simply awful. I am ashamed to say I have found myself in the position of repeating what we did last year instead of innovating, improving or at least stopping the “awfulness.”
I am not criticizing for the sake of making you feel bad; I am hoping we will stop the charade that everything we or our association does must be good. Our resources of time, money and people are too valuable to just do what we did last year. Let’s just say it. You will feel better. Scream it. “THIS PROGRAM SUCKS!” Now we can heal. Your road out of suckiness has begun.
Here are three questions to ask to help you stop screaming in your office and improve your programs.
- Why are we doing this program? What is its purpose? Does it follow our mission and strategic plan? Is it tradition or a personal project? Has it had its day? What would we lose if we stopped this or took one year off? Is this the best program or is there another program that would better reach our goal? Are we more in love with the program than with the purpose behind the program?
- What is the pay off? How would this program advance our members and the associations standing in a members’ mind? Vendor programs versus a continuing education program have different payoffs for members and we should know our desired payoff. Does the payoff outweigh the resource allocation? Does it enhance or distract the association? Who is the main audience and is the program clear about what the program hopes to accomplish?
- What is success? How do we know this program will be a success? Is it numbers, money, purchases, evaluations, new members, follow up meetings or appointments? There are a lot of different ways to measure success—make sure you define this prior to the event. It will also call you to measure and do a recap or post mortem on the program to see if you succeeded. I have had terrible programs get a success rating because a key leader who attended loved a beverage served.
Start evaluating your programs by answering these questions. If you work to address these concerns you will scream less and find your programming will improve.