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December 15, 2005

Democracy in Action

The Virginia Department of Transportation recently ran a poll to allow the public to pick a new Welcome to Virginia road sign. Over 56,000 votes were cast.

I really like this Wisdom of Crowds approach that they took. Maybe because I voted for the sign that won.

What implications are there for associations, if any? Is it appropriate to bind association decisions to survey data? At my association, we always consider research surveys in our decisions, but we never feel compelled to strictly follow the data. Would members feel more connected and engaged if we made more decisions by referendum? Are leaders willing to give up that much control?

1 comment:

Diane said...

We gave our members the option of choosing the logo that would be used to celebrate our 30th anniversary. We learned a couple lessons: 1.) Our members, while good at what they do, are not marketers; and 2.) Our members went with what they liked and not necessarily the best logo for professional uses (letterhead, envelopes, conference signs, etc.) Luckily it was only used for the year and we just got rid of all of the materials this week. This isn’t to say that we should have not used a logo that our members liked, next time we will be more careful as to the choices they have to vote from.

We also conduct quite a few research surveys and treat the data similarly to what Ben posted. This data is taken into account for some decisions, but not held as the final word of the membership. Out of 32,000 members, we have a 2% response rate to our satisfaction survey, yet the membership retention rate ranges from 88%-91%.