Monday, December 4, 2017

I Don't Know How To Do That

I was talking to a friend last night about one of the newest education programs in my association. He's a friend, but he's not in the association business, and I often find his viewpoint as an outsider to my world refreshing.

The new program has a lot of potential, but it's not living up to expectations. Those who attend it, love it, but the number of members attending it falls far short of the demographic that it's geared for. We promote it through all our traditional channels, but it always draws about the same number of members, with the largest percentage comprised of repeat participants.

First I described the goals of the program and my friend, even from outside the association business, saw its value. He compared it to something in his business that he was familiar with and he was spot on with the comparison. Then I described the challenge we were facing, the disappointing lack of participation.

Livestream it, he said.

Now, I don't want to go into the details of why I should or should not consider livestreaming this series of programs. Some associations, in my experience, have an aversion to distributing content from their live education sessions to anyone who isn't in the session room. If people can get it online, the thinking goes, they'll stop coming to the live event. Maybe they will and maybe they won't, but that's not what I'm here to debate. I'd rather focus on the first thought that popped in my head when my friend made this suggestion.

I don't know how to do that.

So what? Even I recognized how meaningless this objection was -- so much so that I successfully kept myself from uttering it out loud. There are a dozen other people I could rely on, and some of them may know how to do it, and if they couldn't we could certainly hire a vendor with the right equipment and expertise to do it for us. I am, after all, the same blogger who posted last week on the importance of putting your resources where your strategic objectives were.

So where did this impulse come from? It was, I realized with some reflection, a fear of something I didn't fully understand, and it came from the same place that all such fears do. The place of uncertainty that keeps us from trying something new, to rely again and again on the things that feel comfortable but which ultimately don't bring us success.

The challenge, you see, has nothing to do with live streaming. It rather has everything to do with banishing the fear of experimentation.

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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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