Surveys: A Simple Tool to Create Substantial Impact

This past summer, I interned at Collaboration Business Consulting, a boutique strategy consulting firm in my hometown of San Luis Obispo, California. While at the firm, I was able to use statistical strategies from my high school AP Statistics class to enhance their employee development survey. I became engrossed in the project, delighted that I could use an innovative and creative approach to obtain information that could make a meaningful difference in their clients’ businesses. Therefore, when my own client at SOURCE, a nonprofit theater called Ophelia’s Jump, asked our team to gather data for grant writing and structural improvements within the company, I jumped at the opportunity to use the knowledge I gained over the summer to design more surveys.

We decided to gather data from three key groups of individuals within our client’s business:

The audience of their plays, which required questions for

Gathering key metrics pertaining to age demographics
Obtaining information on location of residence
Determining the number of previous shows the participant attended
Seeing if the attendee would be interested in becoming a board member or volunteer

Former interns, which we included queries to

Gauge their overall experience
Assess the skills they gained during their tenure
Weigh the impact of the internship on their career
Obtain suggestions for improving the program

Their board of directors, which required questions to

Appraise the technical skills of each member
Gauge their level of commitment to the team
Obtain feedback for development

Once implemented, the surveys could pave the way for obtaining nonprofit grants, attracting new talent to their board of directors, and instigating substantial improvements in both their internship program and the structure of their board.

On a personal level, creating surveys allows me to combine my own appreciation of statistics and analytical creativity to produce truly positive change within an organization. Here are two big picture takeaways from my experience with impact analysis:

1) Use your time wisely!  It can take as little as thirty minutes to create new surveys or modify existing ones.

2) Be direct and concise! Tailor your questions to gather the information that is most critical while keeping the surveys brief enough to avoid response apathy from the participants. 
With this in mind, you will be able to obtain data that can result in truly substantial improvements within your organization.

by josh dorman