Michael Lewis’ “Moneyball” provided an “inside baseball” (pun intended) look at how data is used to build sports franchises into winning teams.
I’m a fan of data. I have been for some time. The challenge, I have found, isn’t so much about gathering the data (although that too can be problematic), rather it’s how we use data to inform our decisions.
Easier said than done.
Several years ago, before I was elected ODK’s National President, then National President Dr. Betsy Holloway asked me to chair the Society’s “Membership Growth Task Force.” While I can cite any number of recommendations that came out of that groups’ work – modifying the Leader of the Year program so as to honor the Society’s five phases of campus life; encouraging Circles to induct an honoris causa member annually at not cost; promoting the induction of more graduate students, etc. – one of the group’s most significant realizations was how ODK gathered and used data.
My own observation at the time was that ODK’s data gathering was arcane (at best) while its data management was labor intensive (at worst).
Since then, National Headquarters has made significant strides towards improving both, but the question remains: how do we use data to inform decisions?
Last month, while the Board of Directors met in Jacksonville, I announced the formation of a membership analytics initiative aimed at informing our decisions across the organization with good, clean data.
It is no secret that our Society relies heavily – too heavily, in fact – on new membership annually. Beyond waiting (hoping, praying) for a healthy intake of new members each year, I have asked ODK Executive Director Dr. Tara Singer to assemble a Membership Growth Analytics working group at headquarters. National Vice President Michelle Burke and National Treasurer Darwin Jones will serve as co-chairs of the analytics steering committee which will consist of members from both the National Membership and Finance Committees.
The steering committee will provide support to a small, tactical team at headquarters charged with analyzing data we have, identifying data we need, and developing a strategy for effectively growing our membership in three ways: 1) new members, 2) new Circles, 3) new donors.
I am confident that, using the data we have, we can inform our decisions and ensure a stable future for ODK for years to come.