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Build the Most Actionable Surveys Ever

By Bob Johnson, VP & Principal Analyst

Use a Logic Map to Ask the Right Questions

The two biggest mistakes people with phone or online surveys make are posing questions of little or no value or, at other times, failure to ask questions that matter most.  I’ve managed hundreds of research projects at vendor organizations, research firms and within the media space so rest assured that I’ve made those mistakes; frustrated with situations where I’d say “why did we ask that question” or, “if only we’d asked that question.”  Sound familiar?

So, about ten years ago I came up with an exercise that will help you ensure you don’t face the same regrets.  I call my solution a “logic map” and when you use it, you’ll guarantee yourself better surveys every time.  A logic map is very simple and fast to do. First in a spreadsheet use the first column to list the questions you plan to ask. Label the column “We’re Asking This.” Simple enough.

The second column takes some thought to complete. Label it “So We Can Learn This” For each question put down specifically what you expect the question results will tell you. Then, if you face a survey having too many questions, you’ll level the playing field to prioritize what makes the final set of questions. But there is another purpose. By doing this, you can also identify gaps, where you’ll see that  the question is not worded the way it should be or, that you need to ask another question in combination with that question to get to the desired insight. So you avoid question gaps that leave holes in the ultimate story you present.

The third column is where it all comes together. Thus far, our first two columns offer our question and what we intend to learn. But the ultimate question is effectively “so what?”  What are you going to do with the information? Label the third column “So We Can Do This.” The “this” might be to enable a reader to compare themselves to their peers, or to present the relative priorities of tasks. When you do the action column you really test the value of your question in where it can be used and the value it brings. It is one thing to learn something, but if you can’t then do something with that learning the leverage is never maximized and surveys are simply too expensive and time consuming to allow that to happen.

Here is an example:

We Ask This

What do you feel are your organization’s top challenges to hybrid cloud migration?

So We Can Learn This

Prioritize the top challenges and confirm those that are aligned with our value propositions

So We Can Do This

Thought Leadership and Demand Generation Focus: Use the data for a top challenges list in blog posting, new asset and part of an interactive peer comparison worksheet that allows the person to enter their own challenges and then see how their perception compares to their peer group.

The Logic Map and its three columns: Question, Learning, Action. It seems simple because it is simple. But sometimes the simple things can make things oh so clear.

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Bob Johnson

VP & Principal Analyst, IDG Connect

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