Find Future Leaders With Today's Engagement Data

By: Joe Rominiecki

One association aims to identify future board members before they even volunteer.

What if you could identify your association's future board members before they've even volunteered? One association is hoping to use data to do just that.

The Society of Critical Care Medicine is developing a predictive-analytics system this year to search through member-activity data for behavioral patterns that indicate a capacity for volunteer and board service. The process is built upon SCCM's member-engagement tracking system, which tracks member actions such as meeting registrations, article contributions, and even email click-throughs, and assigns each member an engagement score.

David Martin, CAE, CEO and executive vice president of SCCM, says he hopes to find new potential leaders based on the data. "In other words, how can we predict which people are going to have those high [engagement] scores later by their current activity?" he says. "What did current top leaders, council members, presidents, journal people, those kinds of people, what did [their score] look like 10 years ago?"

Like many associations, SCCM's current methods for finding potential leaders have "more to do with who you know, who you're friends with, who you work with," says Martin, but the organization wants to add "what you're doing" to that list. "I think there probably [is] a whole pool of people out there who aren't known to the current small pool of top leaders."

For more than a decade, SCCM staff have followed a "single database rule," meaning that any system that processes or tracks member activity must integrate with SCCM's central member database. In a breakout session at the 2011 Digital Now conference in April, Martin showed fellow association professionals how SCCM is using that data to display engagement scores to members on their online member profiles. He's also hoping that data will pay off by helping SCCM get potential leaders on the leadership track sooner, he says.

"Our plan is to try to reach out to people that show up on that list and just simply say, ‘You've been identified as someone that may be interested in moving up in the leadership, and, if you are, then we've got some leadership developmental opportunities for you.'"

Use of data in this specific way is uncharted territory for SCCM, so it is busy refining the system this year and looking to begin reaching out to the potential future leaders it identifies in 2012.

Joe Rominiecki is managing editor, newsletters, at ASAE in Washington, DC. Email: [email protected]

Joe Rominiecki

Joe Rominiecki is a contributing editor to Associations Now.