Tuesday, May 03, 2005

On a scale of one to five . . . 

I've just spent the last half-hour doing a very long questionnaire over the telephone for some Home Office survey about the voluntary sector that I agreed to take part in (it seemed like a good idea at the time). I'm a big fan of feedback and evaluation, but it can get very dull when lots of the questions aren't relevant or when the responses don't allow you to give an appropriate response. The organisation I work for isn't particularly straight forward and so we don't fit easily into the categories that the survey wants to put us in. And the poor market researchers don't necessarily understand the issues, and have to conform to what they have in front of them, so the phone surveys always seem to teeter on the brink of a battle of wills - me getting bored and annoyed and trying to give them an answer that is helpful but not too awkward, and them trying to get me to sit in one of their boxes like a good little girl. Today's survey was about partnership working, and it also doesn't help that the organisations we work with tend to be even more obscure than we are. I honestly tried to say "it's not an acronymn, it's Latin*" without sounding patronising when asked about the name of one of our partners, but I'm not sure I managed it.

For a while I was a member of an on-line surveying site that was used for various market research projects. My involvement mainly stemmed from professional curiosity - it was interesting to see who was asking what, and in some cases see products come to market that I'd been surveyed about. The last straw for me withdrawing though was a ridiculously long survey about choclate that demanded, among other things, that I state the emotional need that was fulfilled by my last chocolate bar purchase. Already fed up with the number of questions I was being asked, I reacted badly to not been able to give an honest answer of 'I was hungry and it was the only thing available'.

I seem to have been filling out a number of b-school related surveys yesterday. The Kellogg Women's Business Association (not sure if I have the name exactly right) sent one about DAK, which I filled out as best I could given the length of time since the event. Wharton sent one about WWW, flagged up one on E-talk about use of their various on-line resources (hopefully this was also publicised by other channels, or there'll be a rather skewed sample) and there's a request for feedback in the latest blog entry on the technology they're using. In typical fashion, I filled in the WWW one and then remembered a couple of things I'd meant to say but didn't. So on the off chance that anyone involved with the surveying reads this, here are a couple of further observations:

Water bottles - (we got these with our info packs for the weekend) a nice alternative to t-shirts in many ways, and if more practical use, but rather in the awkward side for anyone without much space in their luggage (and/or who is having to rationalise their possesions before moving several thousand miles).

Entertainment at the closing dinner- the Whartones (accapella group) are very good, and the museum dome was a lovely venue, but big boomy accoustics and fast close harmony don't work together. We couldn't here much at the other side of the dome, and it must have been a pretty horrible singing experience.

I think that's it, although I'm sure something else will occur to me as soon as I press the publish button.

*One of my colleagues has just pointed out that is, in fact, Greek, so I now feel even more unfair.


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