A Little Knowledge is a Dangerous Thing – Start Planning the Effective Way

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Today we live in a world of “snippits”, where bits of limited information guide our behavior. They can help understand simple issues because they are easy to collect, but they can oversimplify more complex issues to our detriment.

In Clubs, we can use “snippits” to learn how to speed up golf play or what would attract more tennis play.  But when it comes to very important complex strategic issues, the “snippit” approach isn’t effective. Take for example the complexities of providing a much-improved dining program or how to address much-needed facility improvements or even how to raise ongoing funds for facility depreciation. Today, we are experiencing more and more industry leaders trying to solve or resolve many of their challenges and problems with “snippit” surveys. These surveys are basic/one dimensional, when what is needed is the multi-dimensional survey which correlates several issues to get the right solutions.



The “snippit” survey approach for resolving limited issues reminds us of the old adage, “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing”. How many times do we have well-meaning members pontificating on issues? They become experts with limited knowledge on a self-interest issue with little understanding of all the facts (sometimes they don’t want all the facts). This is why in clubs we need the comprehensive research approach, so we understand all the issues and not come up with half-baked solutions to major club problems. Strategic and facility planning is most effective with good research!

At McMahon, we are seeing more and more strategic plans developed around “snippit” survey research. In several instances we are now having to resurvey members on many critical issues because club leaders are cherry-picking their agendas to justify a particular position or goal.

The goal of a membership survey is to get sufficient information so Boards and managers can make the right decisions. Every club action is interrelated and needs to be studied in the whole, not in isolation. If your club is looking for the whole truth and nothing but the truth, utilize a comprehensive membership survey. They guide visionary and effective strategic and facility planning.  

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About Bill McMahon

Bill is a private club planner providing strategic planning, member research analysis and facility planning services for private clubs across North America. Bill joined McMahon Group in 1999 and has worked with over 200 clubs helping to solve their strategic and facility needs.

Bill is Co-Editor of Club Trends, a quarterly report published with the National Club Association (NCA). He has written for many private club publications like The BoardRoom Magazine, Club Director and more, and has been a featured speaker at national conferences, local chapters and other associations serving the private club industry. He is also on the NCA’s Communications Committee.

Bill has been instrumental in developing and enhancing the McMahon Group online presence. He created and runs Clubtopia® (www.clubtopia.com) – an online business directory of firms and companies serving the club industry.

Bill’s club memberships have included Bellerive Country Club (St. Louis), Glen Echo Country Club (St. Louis) and the Missouri Athletic Club (St. Louis). He has served on the Boards of Cinema St. Louis (www.cinemastlouis.org) and the Tennessee Society of St. Louis (former President).


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