This week's post was inspired by a recent hotel stay while I was in St. Louis to facilitate a client's strategic planning retreat. 

Imagine my surprise to walk into the room and find a bed that looks like the picture on this post. Yes, that's the actual bed from the hotel room as it appeared when I walked in the door.

At first glance, the bed looks unmade. One friend who saw the picture said it looked like someone was still sleeping in the bed. Another said there must be about 7 cats underneath those blankets.

Yet, the bed actually was *not* unmade. It was fresh and clean. There was nothing *wrong* with it per se, but the lumpy bumpy comforter was unsettling.

The only way that I could wrap my brain around the fact that the bed was OK was to lift up the comforter, feel the lumps and diagnose the problem for myself. After going through that deeper dive of the problem, I was able to crawl under the covers, sleep comfortably and not worry at all about the odd appearance.

So what connection could this possibly have to running a membership-based organization?

Have you ever asked members want they want? … maybe through a survey, or in a conversation with them? Then you've gone out and delivered it, but it still fell flat and you didn't get the response you had hoped for?

That has happened to almost every organization at one time or another.

If someone had asked me what I wanted out of my hotel stay, I would have said a clean, comfortable bed. I wouldn't have thought to say, “oh by the way, could you make sure that the comforter isn't lumpy, bumpy and weird looking?”

Members often omit details that are important to the experience that you deliver. There are things that they haven't even thought about themselves, so you'd never be able to glean those details from a typical survey.

That's why when we're trying to design and deliver exceptional member experiences, we have to go *deeper*. There are better questions to ask and better ways to interpret results. There are strategies that allow us to sit at the table alongside members and co-create solutions and programs.

In fact, that co-creation process is kind of like letting your member lift up the comforter, feel around on the squishy lumps, and gain an understanding of why certain things happen they way they do. It's a powerful way of gaining buy-in.

I've facilitated many co-creation conversations over the years and I'm turning that process into a virtual workshop called “Co-Creating Value”. I'll be inviting 10 organizations to be part of the first roll-out later this month.

If you'd like to have first dibs on one of those 10 slots, get on the waiting list now.

In the meantime, I hope that every bed you sleep on is comfortable, clean and free of lumpy bumpy oddities.

I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments. 


Joy Duling is Founder and CEO of The Joy of Membership.  Since 2005, Joy and her team have helped associations, trade groups and membership-based nonprofits run their programs more easily and deliver exceptional member care.

You can find FREE tools, tips and training to help you run and grow your membership organization in The Joy of Membership Help Hub.