What did the dog hear? Anecdotal evidence is not the same as real feedback.

 

A recent post on AdvertisingAge describes a communication tactic, dubbed “culture cards,” used by Time Inc. to reinforce a “cultural transformation.” These wallet-sized cards include the company’s mission, vision, strategy, heritage and expected behaviors.

There’s one paragraph in the post that caught my eye: “Time Inc. employee reaction to the cards has been ‘overwhelmingly positive,’ the spokeswoman said.”

I often hear similar anecdotal evidence when I ask about the impact of communication: “Employees loved it!” Or, “Our leaders gave it a thumbs up.” 

The truth is, if we don’t measure (or ask), we don’t know if the communication was effective. "Overwhelmingly positive" doesn’t tell us if these cards made a difference.

This is a perfect example where some real data could go a long way. While a spot survey could do the trick, a quick focus group would help us explore why. Here are a few sample questions:

  • What did you do with your card?
  • If you kept it, have you ever referred to it again?
  • Was the card a useful way to learn about our mission, vision and strategy?
  • Imagine we could replace the card with something else, what would you recommend?

The goal is to gather actionable data that helps you plan follow-up communication and decide if a “culture card” is the right way to go if you’re presented with a similar communication challenge. 

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