I come from a long line of champion sleepers. We go to bed on time. We fall asleep quickly. We sleep straight through the night. We wake up feeling rested. I thought I too was a champion sleeper until I found out that a few of my relatives were struggling with sleep issues. So then I wondered am I getting enough sleep?
Since I have a Fitbit, I started tracking my sleep (I acknowledge that this technique might not be the most accurate, but it is a start). Over time I could see that some nights, most nights, in fact, I did sleep pretty well. But the tracking data showed me there were a few nights when I wasn’t sleeping as well. Specifically, the data showed me that I’m far more prone to waking up briefly a few times around four o’clock in the morning. What the data did not show me was why this is happening.
Am I waking up because the cat bounced on the bed? Or because my husband is tossing and turning? Or because I ate junk food yesterday? Or because I didn’t exercise enough? Or because I exercised too much? Is it because I’m under pressure?
Let’s say I decide to fix the problem and try for a better outcome. I could guess the reasons I’m waking up early in the morning. Maybe it is because it is starting to get light out. Maybe I hear some noise from birds, or my neighbor starting their car or road noise from the early morning commute. Maybe it is one of these reasons, or maybe it is a handful of others. Not knowing exactly why I’m waking up too early presents a bigger risk that I will solve the wrong problem. Do I buy ear plugs, blackout shades or lock the cat out of our room? All of these are low-stakes solutions, but what if your options are going to cost the association tens of thousands of dollars or more?
I can tell from the data what is happening but until I find out why I cannot reliably correct it. This scenario is very analogous to the kind of situations we find in our associations. AMS data, CMS data, email data, website data, and even survey data tells us what is going on but not why. We might think we know why, but we might also be guessing.
To address what is going on in our associations we need to know why it is going on. Dig deeper.