Like many of you, I belong to several professional organizations. At this time of year, I think about which organizations I feel most engaged with and which I need to part ways with. I have had a few disappointments with one organization in particular. None were fatal until a big one earlier this year. In reflecting upon my decision to resign from this organization, the following struck me as important for any business or professional association. I am refraining from naming them because it doesn’t matter. The lessons are transferable.

851. Learn about your customer/member/employee.

This organization sent me an invoice every year and every year, they make assumptions about the appropriate amount of fee that should be paid. This is because most of their members are of one sort, yet I am of a different sort and entitled to avoid one of the fees. They never learned.

2. Everyone needs external advice to grow and adapt.

The organization, made up of highly educated people, succumbed to over-confidence and used convoluted logic to justify bad decisions. This certainly proves that, despite knowledge, these folks are human beings. It does not, however, excuse the bad decisions or the arrogance they showed in failing to seek advice.

3. Specialized isn’t necessarily better.
A special sub-group in this organization can’t get out of its own way any better than the much larger whole. People who get together to impress one another with their methodology add no value. What is the method/technology creating? How is it benefiting anyone besides its creator?

4. Look for cause, not blame.
When the organization realized it was in trouble, they hired people to investigate. Yes folks, a couple million bucks later we had an idea about whom to blame. People got fired, people resigned and “retired” but that does not adequately describe cause.

5. An insincere sendoff is worse than none at all.
After I sent a letter of resignation a form letter was sent to me. It speaks about why it is bad for the organization to lose people, not why it’s bad for me! The letter was sent by an Operations Specialist II from the Operations Service Center. I suppose I am to be impressed with his title.

No matter what business you are in, you are better off if you:

  • Know what value you have to offer and to whom
  • Sincerely get to know your customer and those who are not but could be
  • Constantly look for ways to add value
  • When someone ends the relationship, part in a professional manner that dignifies your past relationship. To do otherwise says a lot-about you.

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