Monday, March 27, 2017

The Best One Ever?

Not too long ago, my association held its latest Annual Conference. Like many other associations, our Annual Conference is a major event on our industry's calendar, with large segments of our membership turning out for education, networking, and, hopefully, a small, restorative break from their otherwise grueling day-to-day.

It was a great event. I know I'm biased, but I wasn't the only one who thought so. Numerous attendees came up and congratulated me during the conference, telling me how great they thought it was and what a good job I and my staff were doing. One person even told me that the conference was the best one ever.

The best one ever. I reflected a bit after thanking that person, and I realized that I've heard a similar comment from someone just about every single year. Gosh, Eric. You guys really outdid yourselves this time. This conference has been the best one ever.

I also realized that someone also tells me every year that the conference was one of the worst ones ever. The speakers were lousy. I didn't meet the people I wanted to meet. The pace of play was too slow during the golf tournament.

What does one do with such cognitive dissonance? Split the difference? Some love it, some hate it, so the truth must lie somewhere in between?

Generally what I do is pay attention to who is offering the comments. In this case, the people in the Best One Ever camp are widely varied. Over the years, it has been a different group of people providing this feedback each year. While the people in the Worst One Ever camp, have pretty consistently been the same three or four individuals.

What does that mean? Well, with a membership as diverse as mine, I think it means we're doing a pretty good job meeting the needs of most of our members, while admittedly not serving the needs of a small minority.

At least that's what we tell ourselves when we debrief and review all our evaluation data.

Are we wrong?

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This post first appeared on Eric Lanke's blog, an association executive and author. You can follow him on Twitter @ericlanke or contact him at

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