The answer lies somewhere between asking the seemingly required open-ended question—what keeps you up at night (nothing, I sleep fine thank you)—and asking individuals to spend 15 minutes online clicking through a mind-numbing series of screens packed with long lists of programs and services to evaluate.

Ah, but what is the question? It's a simple one: what do our members or customers most need, desire, or value?

I truly appreciate any association or company that wants to gather data and insight to serve me better. I'm just not sure their approach helps me much because it's isolated feedback detached from the reality of any actual program or issue being experienced.

Contrast that with my physical therapist who, while treating an increasingly ailing lower back, regularly asks about the amount of pressure being applied, the intensity of pain I am feeling at a particular moment, or what I am sensing in reaction to a treatment being tried. These real-time refinements which I help shape ultimately leave me feeling much better served. Stylists cutting your hair do the same thing.

I'm unsure of how organizations could incorporate something similar into their own evaluation and feedback efforts, but I'm confident that doing so would ultimately be worthwhile.