Do we do enough walking in our member’s shoes? When was the last time we signed up for our own membership (or anyone else’s)? When was the last time we just attended one of our events, not worked them? When was the last time we shadowed a sales person, member services professional or watched one of our webinars? When have we navigated our site with fresh eyes? We spend so much time serving we rarely have time to consume our own offerings. So many businesses and organizations blindly make things unnecessarily difficult for their audience because no one takes the time to walk in their shoes.
Did you know that kids 200 years ago considered attics their personal playrooms? A few days ago I was visiting an early 1800’s reenactment village. The path through one of the houses goes upstairs and then up, up into the attic. Up there in the relative gloom was an assortment of child’s toys, a bed, and a sign stating that in many households children would spend the winter months and rainy days up in the attic playing or even sleeping. Toys were strewn about with the intention of making it look like a child had just left (probably to go fetch water or wood for the kitchen fire). The effect was ruined however because of all the cobwebs, new and old cobwebs hanging off of the toys. No one on the staff, or no one that cared, walked the path their guests walked to discover little issues like these that wreck the magic.
Often we have to travel the path that our members travel to look at the world, and our association, through their eyes. This way we can discover for ourselves all the ways we make things unnecessarily difficult and also plan how to make things easy, valuable and maybe just a little bit magical.