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Action! Data! Metrics! Research! Surveys! bla bla bla. . . ?

How are these words related to each other? It can sometimes be confusing, people may want to collect data (and have a good research idea) but do not know for sure how they want to use the results of the survey. Results of surveys can be very interesting. Those of us who have helped others to execute surveys know that surveys can be a very powerful tool. Results of surveys can also be read by stakeholders,and then:

  • Filed in a drawer called “that’s interesting” never to be used again…
  • Cherry picked for 1-2 items full of confirmatory bias
  • Torn apart for some potential fatal flaw if results are counter to expectations.

How to get around this conundrum? Action planning from the outset – both from the survey provider and the major stakeholders is a good place to start.  Clear understandable objectives go a long way toward helping make sure a survey is actionable. Many survey professionals will have action planning tools, either simple check lists, spreadsheets, or more sophisticated online tools to help with implementation and follow up. Regardless if your survey is measuring product satisfaction, employee opinion, education needs assessment, or obtaining a pulse on customer service, it is the responsibility of all to make sure the survey is utilized.  Surveys utilize resources regardless if your survey is a short Do It Yourself  (DIY) project you will spend 20 hours doing, or a more than 200 hours project, the survey takes your time as well as the time of your survey participants.

Be ‘planful’, ask survey questions based on need as opposed to curiosity, and work with all key decision makers to ensure they will back changes based on survey results. There are many books, articles, blog postings on action planning for survey results. Do your due diligence beforehand and be prepared to act based on your survey results. Surveys should be a valuable resource – use them wisely!

This short article hits the tip of  the iceberg on survey action planning.  Future postings will cover material such as the survey life-cycle, and more. Surveys are not a static thing to be done, but a dynamic ongoing event.

Paul Read more…