Losing Members? Don’t Just Shave The Bear

Seth Godin calls it “shaving the bear,” which he defines as the efforts we make “to deal with the symptoms of a problem instead of addressing the cause of the problem.” One example: “You have a leaky roof and you shave the bear by buying buckets.” Or, instead of dealing with the causes of climate change, you opt for a quick fix:


What is National Geographic’s version of bear shaving? Watching 60 percent of our members leave the Society, and concluding that we have a revenue problem instead of an editorial problem, or a mission misfire, or a failure to connect with members. As a result, the Magazine’s executives and Editor chase the money that’s in easy reach—advertising dollars, corporate partnerships, and sponsored editorial content (e.g., SustainabiliTEA).

This strategy may provide relief for the Society in the short term, especially since there’s still more fur they can shave. But it’s certainly not sustainable. One day soon, all the fur will be gone, and we’ll be stuck with a silly looking bear. What then?

What’s our Society’s plan to address this membership meltdown?

NO NEW POSTS will be published here after February 6, 2014. THIS IS WHY.