I once met with an association executive director to discuss the challenges she and her association were having with their data management systems. As we discussed what was possible with newer technology, she was especially excited to hear how a new AMS would allow her to capture interactions between her and her members. This is how the conversation went:

Her: One of the biggest challenges we face is keeping track of conversations that we’ve had with our members. For example, I’ll meet with one of my members and we’ll agree to do something together, or they’ll give me a really good idea for a new product or service. I want to capture these ideas and conversations. I can’t do that in my current system.

Me: Well the good news is, some of these systems will allow you to capture exactly those types of conversations.

Her: Really? Tell me more.

Me: For example, you would be able to pull up the record of the individual you were meeting with. You could capture the time and date of the meeting, the specifics you discussed, and even categorize the topics covered, for easier querying later. The individual records are associated with their organization records, so you could even see how many times you’ve had conversations with multiple people at a given organization.

Her: That sounds really exciting! How does the information get into the record?

Me: You mean, how does the data get entered into the database?

Her: Yes.

Me: Well, you would have to enter it. Or you could communicate the gist of the conversations to your assistant, and she could enter it.

Her: Well I’m not going to do that. And my assistant doesn’t have time.

Me: But you said capturing these conversations would be important. That the information could provide you and your board with great guidance for future programs.

Her: Yes. But I’m not going to enter that data. And no one else here is, either.

Me: Well, when I find a program that can read your mind and enter the data for you, I’ll let you know.

Computers are great things. And technology can do a LOT for us. But sometimes we just have to admit that we will have to make some kind of effort to make things work. Being successful requires discipline. And part of that discipline is knowing what we have to do to be successful.