One of the most frequently asked questions relates to the number of questions we ask.
Client: ‘Is it possible to provide such lengthy and detailed feedback based on so few items?’
Some clients are impressed, some react skeptically, and others are even anxious about the topic.
Client again: ‘So, is it possible to give back a full company analysis based on only six questions? ‘
Our answer: ‘Well, yes!’
Client: ‘Why? How?’
For the shortest possible explanation, please read on.
Data vs. information
Data is the raw series of exact facts like a list of timestamps depicting when we connect to the internet.
Information, however, is the conclusion summarizing the data, that is easier to interpret. For example, the notice that we stayed connected for a whole afternoon.
The relationship between data and information, however, is not necessarily so obvious. Furthermore, more data might not mean more information. In fact, every type of data and its information value is unique, thus the relationship between data and information should always be evaluated accordingly.
Of course, the user of information gathering techniques only knows what (s)he already tried. Most of us are used to projects based on long surveys. Why is that?
The classic HR methods
The most frequently used HR-surveys are based on the so-called classic HR methodology. The idea behind this methodology is that the organizational efficiency is the sum of its employees attributes, states, attitudes or competencies. These surveys try to quantify the employees inner workings, and find some kind of a connection between them and the efficiency metrics of the organization itself such as growth, income or customer satisfaction.
All of these surveys are meant for mass participation and precise measurements of concepts that are hard to define.
Most of the classical HR-surveys make the mistake of handling the organization as the sum of its employees.
The organizational network analytic method
Organizations however are the poster faces of the old cliché stating that the system is more than the sum of its parts.
These dimensions are not intrapersonal, rather, they are in the interactions between people. ‘Who do you work with? From whom do you get information?’
These topics are easy to answer, easy to grasp, and are equally easy to check. The face-validity of these questions is much higher, thus we do not need several items to cover every angle multiple times.
Consequently, the validity of social network analysis is not based on the number of questions on the same topic, but rather on the proper choice of organizational trait related questioning.