January 22, 2012

"I Have a Question...."

"Being ignorant is not so much a shame, as being unwilling to learn." ~ Benjamin Franklin

Another saying goes, and I paraphrase, "If ignorance is bliss that explains a lot of happy people."

Now you're thinking, "uh oh," and before you think that I'm going off on an irrational rant read below a definition of ignorance from Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary:
ig·no·rance [ig-ner-uhns] 
lack ofknowledge, learning, information, etc.

Ignorance, at its highest level, is rejecting or condemning something you know little or nothing about. Why is this my discussion topic in this week's blog? I am a member of multiple groups on such social media vehicles as LinkedIn and Facebook. I deeply enjoy the discussions but some are based on pure ignorance of a subject matter, specifically, The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). While I'm not an expert on NAHB, I have been involved with leadership decisions that help form strategy and then direction, for our members, on behalf of the industry. True, I have the one opinion, the one voice, in each decision, among the many. The fact that I am at the table and understanding our issues is what's at play.
I read posts about NAHB that demonstrate what national is working on, towards helping our industry recover from the worst housing depression in our lifetime. I then read posts from people who are not members or were members and speak, out of ignorance, about the lack of effort given by NAHB. One person, a non member, stated "what NAHB needs to realize is that they just don't represent their members they represent the entire industry." Policies they promote effect everyone, not just members." Now I have heard this about my home state HBA as well and I'm quite sure other state HBAs have had their share of naysayers. 

It is so easy to criticize from the comfort of a computer, being a Monday Morning Quarterback, questioning every decision without being in the game. Quite frankly, I will listen to someone's opinion, share my thoughts, and hopefully we can at least agree to disagree. When it comes to the home building industry, with the business pain we have all experienced, it's easy to let emotion jump over intelligence (I'm as guilty as anyone), in the pecking order of reasonable conversation. But when someone is not involved, at their local or state let alone NAHB, and they opine about the lack of new construction and place the blame on NAHB, I become amazed. How do you have a reasonable conversation when one side of the argument has little to zero knowledge of the subject? Keep in my the subject I am referring to is NOT the industry but NAHB.

Before we go any further, let me state, for the record, when you try and enlighten those in the dark about NAHB, most NAHB critics will dig their heels in deeper and ignore what others, who are engaged members and in the know, are trying to teach. 

They have little knowledge of our national committees where members from across the country offer opinions that will hopefully develop strategy(ies). They have little knowledge of BUILD-PAC and the power of one voice in Washington. They have zero knowledge that these members are their building industry peers with one exception; the members invest time and dollars in NAHB, the non members are what we refer to here in New Jersey as "free riders."

I may not always agree with NAHB, and those that know me will say that I will speak my piece. However, once a direction is taken, and a majority vote takes place, I know the worst thing to do is to "go public" and show any divide in our initiative. Remember, politics drives our industry, and our legislators, who are being bombarded by all industries, will only become confused if there are multiple solutions form multiple builders. 

I recommend, that before you speak out and demonstrate your ignorance, with regards to NAHB, that you become a member, then become involved within leadership. If you are unhappy with decisions, make your voice heard, not in social media groups, but where the decisions are actually taking place.

Association Maximization has many posts dedicated to understanding the value of being a member, the path to leadership, as well as the need for advocacy. Please read them at your leisure. Hopefully you will become involved. Once you understand the mechanics of corralling an entire industry, with hundreds of thousands of voices, and funneling it through to one voice, you will no longer be ignorant of NAHB. You still may disagree but you'll disagree with knowledge.

Submitted by:
Michael Kurpiel, CGA, CGP
2009-2010 National Associate Chairman
2011 NAHB Associate Members Committee Chairman 


Anonymous said...

Well written and spot on! I agree that it is easy to be critical of an organization that you have limited knowledge of, if any. It's the same as American politics in that if you don't vote you have no right to complain.

Ann Garvey said...

Michael - Well said! This goes for our members within NAHB too...if you don't know the true answer, ask...don't make it up!

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with you, as an E. O. wiyh a small Association I get this question, why did you do it that way I would have went the other way, my answer is always, I know you probably, however you have to be there to make first to understand why I went the way I did.