Survey not worth paper it's written on
| Posted: Wednesday, Jul 25, 2012 06:00 am
Like many, I work in an industry where surveys are an integral measurement of our effectiveness. Many of these surveys directly impact the revenue my company and industry can generate.
Throughout my career I have been in countless meetings where the preparation, analysis and results of these surveys were revealed and dissected and often prepared for spin.
Regardless of the industry, there are several constants in the survey process that determine the results’ accuracy and effectiveness.
The primary one is the proper balance and weighting of demographics. As was reported in your article, and as I have also witnessed in my career, the 18 to 34 demographic is one of the most difficult to solicit but also one of the most crucial to such a broad survey’s viability.
From experience, I know that if the primary demographic reflecting growth, family and future of a community occupied just 0.005 per cent of the sample size (as was the case for the city’s recent satisfaction survey), my company and industry would throw the results out the window and ask for its money back.
Expanding the demographic to 18 to 49, covering those individuals who are transitioning to middle-aged and could be considered the most socially, recreationally and economically active within the community, the sample size was still less than 0.02 per cent.
It's a sad reality for the 800 people who did volunteer 25 minutes of their time to take the survey that their time commitment lead to results that aren't worth the paper they’re printed on.
The often overused adage “if you don’t vote, you can't complain” can only somewhat apply here because it’s the city's responsibility not just to conduct this survey but build a plan based on its reliable results. When a survey lacks credibility it’s also the city's responsibility to question the results, not spin them to fit an agenda and justify an endeavour.
Our city seems to be consistently losing the balancing act of pleasing the young family and appeasing the retired citizen. And with a response weighted 98 per cent towards those over the age of 49, those scales just tipped overwhelmingly and inaccurately in favour of the immediate future with a blind eye towards long-term growth.
It seems the city owes it to all demographics (who ultimately paid for this survey) to demand a do-over.
Robert Patrick, St. Albert