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Not too long ago my husband Brent and I were shooting the breeze and somehow, although not too surprising the topic of hockey wove into the conversation – my husband is a HUGE hockey fan and all roads seem to lead to it.  Brent regaled the year his friend Matt Cullen played for the Carolina Hurricanes and won the Stanley Cup.  When Matt had the privilege of hoisting the cup, Brent got to be a part of ceremoniously drinking from it, and he may, or may not have cried a little. Hockey fans will apparently understand the sacredness of this encounter as well as the tears.  That experience was a first, and probably last, for Brent, but one of meaning and full of impact.

Growing up in Buffalo, NY Brent has always known the sport of hockey.  At least, he has no clear distinction of “learning” it.  For me however, this wasn’t the case.

As the conversation continued, I began to share with Brent my “first” real experience with hockey.

A guy named Brad asked me out and took me to a semi-professional (although I didn’t know the difference) game.  I was excited!  I made sure to dress warmly, and I think I even took a look at the team roster prior to the game so I could know a few names, which was ironically misguided given what later ensued.

We arrived at the game, and Brad had secured fantastic seats close to the ice.  We settled in, and he ordered drinks as the teams warmed up.  When the referees entered the rink and it became apparent that the game was about to begin I looked up to the jumbotron/scoreboard intently. Brad saw my focus high above the ice and asked what I was doing.  It wasn’t until the words had escaped my mouth that I realized something was terribly wrong…

“I’m waiting for the puck to drop,” I answered.

It took a split second for Brad to process what I had said. I could see his wheels turning and all of a sudden, he knew what I meant.  He started laughing hysterically.  By this time the actual face off had taken place, which by the way was anticlimactic given my expectation of the puck dropping from the jumbotron down onto the ice.

Brad needed to know where I had gotten such a skewed idea.  Upon reflection I realized in horror that my expectation had come by way of the ONLY exposure I had previously had with a hockey game – a scene from a ridiculous movie I’d seen on TV – Strange Brew (don’t ask).  There is nothing in this movie that gives credence to it being a source of truth or accuracy.  I realized as I told Brad that this was my source of knowledge how silly it sounded.  Yet, I had no other context or exposure that would lead me to challenge what I had seen as legitimate.  I had accepted one source as my frame of reference, which in this case, didn’t serve me well at all.

As I shared this story with my husband it brought to mind a parallel in the fundraising world.  I had been looking for something to happen, but I was looking in the wrong place.  I had been misguided. How often are organizations adopting or inheriting strategies and objectives based on information that may be out of context or not applicable to their current, specific situation? How often are organizations missing the “game” because they are looking at the wrong data and in the wrong direction?

At Pursuant, we have found that most organizations are sitting on a ton of information and data. However, information is not knowledge.  If not properly extrapolated, comprehended, and organized into executable outcomes, information may in fact be leading you to look and miss out.

What strategies have you or your organization accepted as status quo without really seeing where the data and understanding of it will truly lead you? Are you truly facing forward?