Obtaining feedback from stakeholders

There are a number of different kinds of tools for collecting information about the thoughts and beliefs that different groups have about your organization.

Surveys can be widely disseminated and are the most time-efficient method of collecting information from respondents.
People generally respond to surveys anonymously. Most surveys include some yes/no questions, some questions on a Likert Scale (a commonly used numerical rating scale) (e.g., rate on a scale of 1 to 5), and a few open-ended questions. The disadvantage of surveys is that you may need someone with fairly sophisticated computer skills to compile the information. If you have the resources, you may wish to use consultants to administer and analyze surveys.

Interviews are useful tools for gathering in-depth information from your stakeholders. Interviews are particularly valuable because they allow you to ask follow-up questions of interviewees when you need clarification about a particular response. However, it is easy to ask leading questions in an interview format. Therefore, it is important that the interviewers be careful to ask value-neutral questions. (An example of a leading question is, ―Do you think people of color are disproportionately discriminated against?‖ Another way to ask that question is, ―Are people of color and white people treated equally?‖) It is also important that interviewers record the answers to questions carefully and that the full meaning of a response is recorded. A third party with experience conducting interviews is helpful for designing and leading interviews.

Focus Groups
Focus groups are useful if you want to gather a lot of information from a group of stakeholders during a short period of time. A typical focus group has 8 to 15 people in it and lasts for approximately 90 minutes. The participants usually have some critical factor in common, e.g. they are all clients of the organization or they are all past board members. Focus groups are generally conducted by a third party. The sponsoring agency is usually not present for the focus group so that respondents will be more frank with their responses.

  • Organizing a focus group requires the following:
  • Deciding who should be invited.
  • Securing an appropriate space (consider special needs, such as translators and accessibility).
  • Getting guests to the designated location.
  • Identifying a facilitator with experience conducting focus groups.
  • Ensuring that someone is there who can record responses.
  • Analyzing responses.

Observation is a method of data collection that involves physically viewing the actions of the stakeholders e.g. end customers. To use these data collection methods for stakeholders, you need to observe participants. For example, you might be gathering data to understand the mistakes sales people make while selling cameras. For this, you could ask them for the mistakes and most probably they’ll say, “I don’t make any!” Alternatively, you could physically be there to observe the mistakes. The key to success in this method of data collection is to make sure the participants do not get conscious.

Collaborative Workshop Mode
The Collaborative Workshop Mode data collection method is possibly the most engaging manner to collect and analyse data. It involves participation from all stakeholders. Depending on the objective, the Collaborative Workshop Mode sessions may be spread over a few sessions, alternatively it could be concluded in one session. For example, suppose you are improving the design of a web application. The data collected can be through statistics and observation of users. This data can then be brought into a Collaborative Workshop Mode session for analysis and drawing conclusion on the web design. To select stakeholders for this type of data collection
method, use the Power/Interest grid. One of the key benefits of this approach is that stakeholder participation is not only used to
gather data, but also draw conclusions. This enables a greater degree of engagement from stakeholders and also helps in setting expectations. To conduct a Collaborative Workshop Mode session is quite challenging. It requires multiple moderators.

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