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Statistical Thinking: Improving Business Performance, Second Edition by Ron Snee, Roger Hoerl

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APPENDIX C

More on Surveys

Effective management always means asking the right questions.

—Robert Heller

This information was prepared by a group of professionals in survey methodology and is a good introduction to the topic. Another useful reference for using surveys to better understand the “voice of the employee” is Snee, which discusses how employee surveys can be used as both a communication tool and an improvement tool.1 It includes a case history, as well as general guidelines for designing and implementing sound surveys.

WHAT IS A SURVEY?*

It has been said the United States is no longer an “industrial society” but an “information society.” That is, our major problems and tasks no longer mainly center on the production of the goods and services necessary for survival and comfort.

Our “society,” thus, requires a prompt and accurate flow of information on preferences, needs, and behavior. It is in response to this critical need for information on the part of the government, business, and social institutions that so much reliance is placed on surveys.

THEN, WHAT IS A SURVEY?

Today, the word survey is used most often to describe a method of gathering information from a sample of individuals. This “sample” is usually just a fraction of the population being studied.

For example, a sample of voters is questioned in advance of an election to determine how the public perceives the candidates and the issues . . . a manufacturer does a survey of the potential market before introducing ...

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