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P3 Decision Making

Many membership-based organizations are always trying to figure out how to attract guests, convert them to members, and keep the members they have. Businesses are trying to convert prospects into customers and customers into clients. It's easy to attribute the ebb and flow of membership and sales to unexplained external forces, but is there something we can do to consistently attract and retain satisfied members and clients?

Chris Ford, of Generally Speaking, Distinguished Toastmaster, and former International President of Toastmasters International, suggests that in every purchasing situation, we interact with Product, Process, and People. While this article is targeted to Toastmasters, the principles readily apply to any organization, to any business.

P3 Decision Making

©Copyright Chris Ford 2013, Used with permission

You and I frequently find ourselves in the “P3 Decision Making model”… whether we know it or not. Shopping at the grocery store, buying a new car, or searching for a new dentist all put us into contact with Product, Process and People. We buy when we are satisfied with all three, and we remain loyal if and only if that satisfaction continues. Looking at this model through the lens of Toastmasters, the guest will decide to join or not, depending on his or her reaction to the product, the process and the people. A member’s decision to stay or not depends on the quality of inter-action with the product, the process and the people. Satisfaction with all three Ps is essential to customer (read member!) attraction and retention!


The product we offer is self-improvement through our Communication and Leadership programs:

  • are the C&L programs explained to the guest?
  • does the guest see the relevance of the TI product to his/her needs?
  • does the VP Ed orient the new member to the educational programs?
  • does the club have a comprehensive resource library?
  • does the club offer an effective mentoring program?
  • are existing members surveyed periodically to determine needs and interests?
  • is the new member encouraged to participate in TM activities outside the club?


Guests and members experience process to join, to renew, to advance, and to be supported:

  • is the joining process at club level “user-friendly” – smooth and efficient?
  • are club officers ready, willing and able to facilitate the decision to join?
  • are the needs of continuing members well served by the club?
  • is the meeting process – logistics, agenda, timing, participation, evaluation – conducive to learning?
  • is the educational program delivered efficiently by the club?
  • do administrative and educational processes external to the club (district, WHQ) complement and support the internal club processes?


we are a people first organization:

  • do current members greet guests warmly?
  • is a welcoming climate fostered in the club?
  • are there cliques which exclude newcomers?
  • is conflict or hostility evident between some members?
  • do the actions of the club support the “member on top” principle?
  • are members genuinely interested in the progress of others?
  • are the needs of the member placed ahead of the needs of the club and the district?
  • does the club provide a mutually supportive and positive learning environment?
  • is your club a happy club!?

About Chris

Chris has 40 years of practical communication, leadership and conflict transformation experience in the Canadian Forces, the Public Service of Canada, and Toastmasters International. He’s a retired brigadier-general, a retired director-general, and a Past International President of Toastmasters. His first career specialty was military engineering, with numerous overseas assignments including peace support operations in the former Yugoslavia, exchange duty in India, and NATO service in Germany. His second career led Chris into the world of conflict resolution and conflict transformation - at the interpersonal level, the organizational level, and the international level. In recent years Chris was the Director of Conflict Resolution at Citizenship and Immigration Canada, and subsequently the Director-General of Alternative Dispute Resolution for the Canadian Forces and National Defence. His two careers share key common ground: they are both about bridge-building!

Chris is now a keynote speaker, and offers consulting services in communication, leadership, and conflict transformation. He is passionate about excellence in communication, and refined his speaking, thinking, and listening skills - largely through Toastmasters International and membership in the Canadian Association of Professional Speakers. He has been a leader at all levels from the most junior to the executive and strategic levels. He is a natural consensus builder and brings a pragmatic approach to conflict situations. All this, and a great sense of humour too!!

Chris is a graduate of the Royal Military College (Kingston) in Applied Science, the Defence Services Staff College (India), the Program for Public Executives at Queens University (Kingston), and a recent graduate of the Carleton University (Ottawa) Graduate Certificate Program in Conflict Resolution.


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