How Comfortable Are You with Radical Change?

Sep 30, 2020

When I was a kid, I loved to read those “Choose Your Own Adventure” books.  Do you remember them?  You’d get to the key part of a story and then it would say, “if you think Susie should do X, turn to page 23, but if you think Susie should do Y, turn to page 62.”

The story would continue on, based on the choice that you made, until you’d come to another plot point where a decision was required.

I used to enjoy flipping back-and-forth through the book, following one story line to the conclusion, then flipping back and making alternative choices so I could see a different way the story might go.

In my business, and with client projects, I’m often more comfortable with change than many of my clients. I recognize that anything that we do is really just a sequence of choices and that very few choices are truly final. If something’s not working, you can typically flip back a few pages and make an alternative choice.

Maybe in concept, as you’re reading this, some of you are nodding your head in agreement: “that’s so true, Joy… we can simply flip back a few pages and change…nothing is truly cast in stone.”

For others, something may have blipped up in your brain as you read these words…maybe there’s a change that your organization has been wrestling to make; maybe it’s something that you see as important and your Board doesn’t; maybe it’s something that your Board wants to change and you’re not so sure.

When an organization holds on to a belief or practice without being willing to question whether change should happen, that’s known as a “sacred cow.”  

A sacred cow may take the form of:

  • A program that no one’s willing to cut, even though it hasn’t made any revenue for years;
  • A practice that began to satisfy the preference of a key donor, but is of little broader value;
  • Long-standing traditions that are difficult for new members to relate to;
  • Etc.

I had a great conversation with Dr. Stephan Meyer for last week’s podcast episode. Stephan actually did his PhD dissertation on the subject of sacred cows, speaking with nearly 200 organizational leaders about radical change.


You can listen in on my conversation with Stephan here!

Sometimes external perspective can help, as you contemplate changes that may be necessary for your organization. It is safe to say that 2020 has sure provided plenty of opportunity to talk about change, hasn’t it?


I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic.  Hit reply and let me know.

How MY Team Has Been Helpful This Week:

In the spirit of focusing on helpfulness, I’ve started closing out these weekly emails with a snippet of insight into the kinds of things my team has been doing to be helpful to clients.

This week, much of our activity was focused on supporting an association client that is gearing up for their Annual Conference which is being held as a virtual event this year.  

We created:

  • An attendee brochure
  • The event registration page and all the connections required to take payment, send out the virtual event link, etc.
  • An online space where the conference will be held with links to the sessions and a virtual exhibit hall
  • A sponsor/exhibitor brochure
  • An online form to accept sponsorship/exhibitor sign-ups
  • An online form to accept exhibitor information for the booths in the virtual exhibit hall
  • A sample booth so that prospective exhibitors would know what to expect
  • An announcement email about the event for attendees
  • An announcement email about the event for sponsors
  • The set-up for the Zoom events associated with the conference
  • Detailed instructions for speakers providing all of the details for what they need to supply to us for their presentations and how they should connect in

There may be other things, but you get the idea – it is a BIG, BIG project with lots of moving pieces!

    Want to talk about how we could be helpful to you and your organization?

    Let’s set up a time to talk:

    Hey there.  I’m Joy Duling, Founder and CEO of The Joy of Membership.

    Clients hire me to help them design and deliver exceptional member experiences. If you lead an association, trade group, or membership-based nonprofit, you can find FREE resources to help you run and grow your membership organization by visiting here:

    I look forward to connecting with you there.