Avoiding the False Positive

Lori Halley 26 May 2014 0 comments

The following is a guest post by Peter Houstle and Elizabeth Weaver Engel, MA, CAE.

As Lewis Carroll pointed out, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.” One of the biggest problems we encounter in decision-making is the problem of asking the right question. 

The most common false positive we hear in the association world arises from the question, "How do we get more members?" A better question might be, "How do we get the right members?" The right answer to the former may have little to do with the right answer to the latter. 

Associations have more types and greater amounts of data readily available to us than ever before, and the cost of the tools needed to process all that data has declined dramatically. In fact, the combination of data and tools available in 2014 should allow us to move beyond the standard operational dashboards we’ve been using for years and get to the “good stuff,” where we can start asking better questions and making better decisions. 

In a newly released white paper, Getting to the “Good Stuff”: Evidence-Based Decision Making for Associations (http://bit.ly/1jwXcDX), Elizabeth Engel, Spark Consulting and Peter Houstle, Mariner Management, share the stories of six associations that are using  these new data capabilities effectively to ask better questions and make better decisions as a result. 

The monograph also offers a variety of insights regarding the role of data, the value of new analytical tools, and the importance of experience in the decision-making process, towards the ultimate goal of helping associations get beyond our operational dashboards and into using data to ask meaningful, mission-driven questions and inform our decision-making processes. 

Click here to get your copy of Getting to the “Good Stuff”: Evidence-Based Decision Making for Associations.


Elizabeth Weaver Engel, MA, CAE has been a member of the association community for over 16 years. She is currently CEO & Chief Strategist at Spark Consulting LLC: Explosive Growth for Associations. To find out more about Spark, please visit getmespark.com. To find out more about the writing services Spark offers, please visit getmespark.com/services/writing/.

Peter Houstle is CEO and co-founder of Mariner Management & Marketing, an association management and consulting company. He serves as executive director for several clients and provides a variety of management consulting services to others. He and his partner, Peggy Hoffman, have completed numerous projects in volunteer, leadership and organizational development with their consulting clients which have been featured in ASAE publications and conferences.  He also served on the Data Analytics Team of the ASAE Technology Section Council where he, along with his teammates, developed a comprehensive overview of data management for associations. 

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Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Posted by Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Published Monday, 26 May 2014 at 8:30 AM

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