I hate planning.

Wait. Did I just say that?  I *hate* planning?

But don’t you hear me talking about planning ALL…THE…TIME?

It’s true. I do talk about planning a lot.

However, I actually hate planning the way most people do it.

Over the years, I’ve found myself subjected to other experts’ planning processes a number of times.  I always start out with excitement around what I want to accomplish, then somewhere in the process, my energy takes a nosedive.

Suddenly, the things that I was so jazzed up about doing feel heavy and maybe even like they’re not possible to do at all.

I’ve been thinking lately about why this happens.

I know that it’s not unique to me. I’ve seen plenty of clients experience the same.

They plan either on their own, or with their board, and everything seems fine at the big picture level, but as soon as they start trying to squash all of those hopes and dreams into the logical boxes of a well-sequenced plan… *poof*, the magic disappears.

I’ve identified 4 key problems that turn planning into something that most organizations deplore (and I’m probably just scratching the surface).

1. It’s too freaking complicated.

If you can’t fit your plan on a single page and capture where you are going and what the important work is, you’ve made it too complicated.

2. It doesn’t inspire you to take action.

If your heart isn’t filled with a giddy little sense of glee every time you look at your plan, how can you possibly expect to stay motivated to follow it over the long run.

3. It doesn’t inspire others to take action.

This one is a killer.  One reason why organizations don’t like to plan is that everything fizzles out as soon as soon as the planning meeting ends. If others can’t understand what they need to do or they aren’t inspired into action, your plan dies before it even gets started.

4. It takes too long to see impact.

When organizations are trying to measure the impact of their activity, they tend to choose “lagging indicators” like membership growth, revenue increases, etc.  While it’s important to measure such things, the fact that it takes so long to see whether a plan is working gives you and your people a big window of time to lose momentum, become skeptical, or chase a new bright shiny object. The result is that you’re pulled off course before the desired impact can happen. When this happens, organizations say that the planning didn’t work.

Making sure that these problems don’t happen for my clients is something that has always been important to me.  To create momentum, a plan must be simple, must inspire the leader to take action, must inspire others to take action, and must build in quick wins to maintain motivation.

I’ve built all of these principles into the new MemberMetrix program which is kicking off in 2020, so if you’ve been frustrated by planning processes in the past but you’re still really committed to delivering the best possible member experience and making growth happen, it’s worth taking a look at whether the program is right for you.

You’ll find details here:  https://joyofmembership.com/membermetrix2020/

If you’d like to catch the Crowdcast that I did recently on this topic, you can go here.

For 2020, I'll be offering four support programs to help your membership organization grow. Be sure to check them out our new options below!

Have a great rest of your week!

How I Can Support You:

I’ll be offering 4 programs in 2020:

1) The Boost – Want to identify your organization's fastest path to growth? This private consulting experience with membership expert Joy Duling provides fresh perspective, best practice guidance, and a Boost Plan that you'll feel excited about implementing.

2) MemberMetrix – For yourself, a member of your team, or your organization's membership committee, this program focuses on how to make the right things happen at exactly the right time for members so that you can consistently grow your organization's membership.

3) TeamShare – You may have heard the old saying that two heads are better than one. Around here, we believe that having a whole team of expertise is the best of all. With TeamShare, we completely eliminate the need for you to recruit, hire, train and manage multiple employees and contractors.

4) EasyApricot – It's never been easier to serve your members and run your operations. Our team can help you leverage the #1 ranked membership management software, Wild Apricot. Whether you want it 100% done-for-you or just need someone who can walk you through the tricky spots, we'll make your new Wild Apricot site beautiful and your transition hassle-free.

The best way to find out if a program is right for you is by scheduling a quick call.


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.