Updated- April 17
In trying to bring IOPS to the attention of Z Sustainers I write to, and along with urging them to visit the site, I have asked that those who haven't gone to the site, or who have gone and decided against joining, drop me a line saying why, so those involved could try to do better.
Understandably, not many replied - though others did join - and people's lack of offering or perhaps even having communicable reasons for being put off is, I suspect, on of the largest problem we face. How do you address silence? But, among those who didn't join or even visit, but who did reply with an explanation, the results were interesting - for people's continuing recruting efforts.
You might think folks would say, well, I read the visionary section and the structure program section, and I decided that IOPS wasn't for me. And you might expect they might then briefly indicate what put them off. But that simply did not happen. At least not this time around.
The reasons given were varied but, truly, not about IOPS itself. Some said they were dealing with health or family problems and just couldn't give it their attention, but would look, in time eventually. One for example, said, they were behind on email and could look in mid June and would do so. Others said - and this was most prevalent - just, I don't have time. No more than that. One, for example, said he was about to join, but realized it might mean extra emails arriving, and so decided not to. Many said they were way behind dealing with their emails, and so hadn't seen the notices - of course now they had seen it, and in some cases still hadn't joined, or even visited, but didn't explain that, other than, too busy - they said. One said she wasn't a joiner. And it went on like that, but not too many, because not too many replied. A few literally said, nothing against IOPS - I love it, and they had clearly visited - but there is no chance to win anything, so why bother? For myself, I think that last group was being quite honest - and my own feeling is it explains most of the others, too.
For a person who visits and doesn't like what they see, for one reason or another, no issue of further explanation arises. But for someone who likes what they see but doesn't join, or who doesn't visit in the first place, an issue does arise. Is it simply that they are too busy? I think they most often believe that is the reason, I think most who would hear it given by someone would believe it of that person, too. I have to say, I don't. For me, saying "I am too busy, there isn't enough time, I am doing too much else," is virtually never a full explanation of why someone isn't doing something - myself, or others.
Why do I say that? Because to be the real reason saying "I am too busy" has to include a follow-up phrase - I am very busy, my time is short - AND - this option, which would take time, is less important to me than everything I am now doing." Of course, the latter part goes unsaid, but without it, the former part doesn't mean much.
So our real issue is to determine why those who don't even look at the site, don't look at the organizational description, probably ignore the growing membership - feel it is of so little importance. It can not be explained as they are just too busy. Without even noting that one can join in ten minutes, and before that one is reading online which people do a lot of, in any case, and then one can obviously give as much more time as they find themselves wanting and able to give, but no more.
So to me, to recruit really effectively, we have to figure out, at least for a large audience beyond those we really know well, and perhaps even there, why a person with politics very akin to those of IOPS and organizational preferences very akin to it, would decide - consciously or by reflex, before paying any close attention to its features - that it is not worth their time, that it is less important that everything else they currently do for more than, say, an hour?
My guess is, there are four kinds of gut expectations/reasons for this reaction.
(1) It is really worthy, but others won't relate, so it will fail, and so I won't relate and look dumb for having done so.
(2) It seems really worthy, but it will devolve into junk - all such efforts do.
(3) It may grow, keeping its fine features, but it won't win - winning is impossible.
(4) I am worried that it will grow, that it will suck me in, and that I will wind up giving it a lot of time - crowding out other activities.
I think it ought to be possible to deal with these, at least so that we have done so as best we can, in initial communications with people. Can we?
And I convey this wondering if people are having other experiences. In particular, are people encountering opposition to anything that is actually an IOPS feature - as compared to very general comments like those above, which would block joining it no matter what its features were? And do people have other ideas on the kinds of information and arguments we need if we are to communicate to grow.
And yes, I know that the main thing is visible signs of success - but that part is a Catch 22. We need more people if we are to have successes, though yes, having more people is also a kind of precondition for having many successes. That is why outreach is so critical, and hard, especially now. That, and because, there is a natural tendency to not want to talk to people, many or most of whom will be dismissive or even hostile - whether with or without reason. That isn't easy, fun, or often even pleasant - but it is necessary.
So, has anyone got any ideas for dealing with the obstacles that people feel, those mentioned above, and any others?