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How to learn less than nothing through surveys

Dinosaurs, much like modern humans had about a 5% success rate at behavior change. Early morning jogging, healthy diets, and filling out their expense reports on time were no easier for them than they are for us.

So when Annie the Ankylosaurus told me that she had been getting a 40% success rate with her pack, I was excited. She showed me that 40% of the respondents to the customer satisfaction survey reported life-changing results.

 
Photo by Celpax on Unsplash

I was excited until I look at her actual data. Only one hundred dinosaurs out of the thousand surveyed had bothered to respond.

So the numbers were in point of fact 4% successes, 6% reported failures and 90% didn’t bother to respond and I presume were failures.  Her success rate was no better than baseline. I was disappointed and hadn’t thought about this for millennia until I received an anonymous survey today for an organization that I actively support.

I needed to log in with my google account to complete the anonymous survey. Strike one.

There were ten questions. The six of them were required single-choice (radio buttons). I had useful information on eight of the ten questions. I had no knowledge of one of the required questions. I have no idea whether an object that I have used should be much longer, a little longer, much shorter, a little short, or was just the right size. I couldn’t leave turn in the survey while leaving it blank.

Should I put in a junk answer, or simply give up on the survey?

Regardless of what I personally do, even if 100% of the respondents reported that they loved one of their unrelated products in the survey, would it mean anything?

I wonder if Annie has been advising them.

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Written by Russell Brand

Russell has started three successful companies, one of which helped agencies of the federal government become very early adopters of open source software, long before that term was coined. His first project saved The American taxpayer 250 million dollars. In his work within federal agency, he was often called, “the arbiter of truth,” facilitating historically hostile groups and factions to effectively work together towards common goals

 

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