Benefits downstream are difficult to implement

Benefits downstream are difficult to implement

In my 25 years of consulting, one of the biggest challenges I've seen organizations face is implementing a process change that is initially "difficult" but has significant downstream benefits (i.e., hard now, but beneficial later) .

For example, a client of mine explained that it would be very helpful to her to have a history of meeting attendance for her committee members. She'd like to be able to look at a member's record and see which committee meetings they attended. When I explained that the AMS could support this by setting up the committee meetings as a simple "RSVP" event that committee members would register for online, she replied: "Oh, that's too much work. It's much easier for me to just email them and ask if they are going to attend or not."

This is a perfect example of a downstream benefit (history of attendance) that is lost because staff perceives the amount of effort (setting up the meeting) to be too much.

Unfortunately, there is no magic fix for this. In order to obtain the benefits of the history of attendance, the work has to be done on the front end in order to make capturing attendance data automatically part of the process.

Social science refers to "delayed gratification," the idea that immediate pleasure is delayed or deferred in order to get a longer term benefit (e.g., rather than buying a coffee every day, putting that money into an investment account that will return a lot of money years down the road).

Very often the data management decisions we're making are choosing immediate gratification over delayed. Is it happening in your organization? And what can you do to address that?

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