Sunday, July 26, 2009

Lesson of the week: "It is impossible to please everyone"

I’ve been a member of a professional organization for the past 12 years and a board member for 10 of those 12 years. During my tenure, I have held many positions including President. Last year, I took a much needed break after running a major event and was surprised to discover after a couple months how much I missed my board involvement. This year I volunteered to be co-program chair, one of my favorite positions. Our annual planning meeting was this week. It appeared to be a successful meeting; my co-program chair and I presented what we thought was an interesting line-up of CPE topics for the year that were well received.

The morning after the planning meeting, I received the following email from a fellow board member:

Another thought (please take it as constructive), some of the topics, Linked In, Word, other computer related topics are great for those of us GenX and older, but the students/recent grads can probably give some of this training. It probably wouldn't be attractive to them, so if we could do those early on and have more career related topics after student night, that might attract a newer audience?

My first thought was, it is too early in the year for me to get upset about the “never satisfied.” My second thought was, if members have a genuine gripe with the CPE line-up it is still early enough to tweak the schedule, so I emailed my co-program chair asking her opinion. She responded with:

Finding speakers is hard enough, I’m certainly not going to say oh we’re sorry, we want you for a different month now because your topic isn’t quite ‘rock’n’ enough.

And to her point about computer-related and the college kids could teach us something….well if it were about face-book, twitter or blogging probably, but any real-world applications, definitely not. I’ve been in the business world longer than I care to admit and I’m learning things through my ‘new job’ about Excel that I didn’t know were possible. You don’t learn how to spin/pivot/manipulate data in a classroom like you do behind a desk.

(Sorry I’m cranky this morning, I think I need another cup of coffee)

My take on this is, you and I will take guidance on what people want and ‘try’ to accommodate, but in the end you and I find the speakers.

Whether it is planning the menu for a dinner party, preparing the exercise class schedule at the gym, or even deciding what topic to blog about I have come to the conclusion it is impossible to please everyone, all you can do is try to accommodate the majority or in the case of blogging please yourself (why blog about something you are not passionate about). Also, after ten years of active board involvement I am surprised that I am still continuously learning decision making, leadership and management skills. I firmly believe I would not learn nearly as much if I were not an active member.

"If you're trying to please everyone, then you're not going to make anything that is honestly yours, I don't think, in the long run.” Viggo Mortensen

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