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What Keeps You Up At Night is the WRONG QUESTION?

I think every person in association management and business has been taught and conditioned

to ask members/clients this question, “So what keeps you up at night?” This question leads to many funny answers like insomnia, drinking too much coffee or tea late at night, or my kids needing one more glass of water at bedtime.

When taken seriously, many owners/executives will provide an entire list of elements that keep them up at night like:

  • Our members don’t seem to see our benefits

  • I can’t find good enough people to grow my business.

  • My operational costs are out of control

  • Young people aren’t joiners

  • I can’t get the funding to grow my company

  • I’m losing customers and can’t figure out why

While all of these are note worthy elements that keep people up at night, they are symptoms of deeper issues that we need to ask the right questions to find the right answers.

Asking “What Keeps You Up at Night?” allows the business owner or professional to answer it from their perspective: i.e., they assume they have a perfect company and there isn’t any responsibility on their part to change in the areas of operations, customer experience, or working for the company. They can’t understand the problems because they don’t see their company or business model as the problem.

Why do you think “Uberization” is happening? It’s because innovative companies are creating technology, or ways of removing friction, stress, and anxiety from companies operations, customer experience, or working for them.

Knowing this, in the world of business and association management, the deeper and better question is:

“What friction, anxiety, or stress do you feel exists in your business, in the area of working for you, your customer experience, or your operations?”

This question forces an owner or executive to work through the possibility that there may be elements that they need to do differently to enhance their position in any of these 3 key areas.

Specifically in association management, when you ask a member where the friction, anxiety, or stress is in working with them, the customer experience, or their operations, their answer will lead you specifically to a potential association service to explore. If one member has the issue, many may have that same issue.

With the potential of many having the same challenges, the strength of the association acting as one can solve a problem many have in their industry, thereby creating great value for members.

Remember, all the marketplace disruption we are seeing today is creating solutions in 2 ways:

  • Removing friction, stress, or anxiety in operations or the customer experience; or

  • Revealing friction, stress, or anxiety that you did not know you had until you began using the new benefit.

Many people in today’s business climate think the current way of doing something is really efficient until they discover a new app or piece of technology that is introduced. This new emerging technology solves a level of friction, stress, or anxiety that they did not know they had until they used the new technology.

Knowing this, we should all stop asking the question of “What keeps you up at night?” and begin asking “When you look at the way you do business, where do you feel there is friction, stress, or anxiety in your operations, your customer experience, or working for your company?”

If associations and member companies would focus on the three areas of friction, stress, and anxiety in their business model, it would drive them to innovate and create more efficient operations, greater customer experiences, and an amazing work culture.

So this week, get your key management together, get a flip chart out, and begin to write down the friction, stress, and anxiety that may exists in the areas of your operations, customer/member experience, in and working for your association.

Solving this alone is the first step to maximizing your value and engagement in your association.

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