Table 5.1 (continued)
Some Useful Success Case Identification Methods
Success Case Examples
Identification Method
Word of mouth and reputation In a school district, we asked school
(continued) principals which teachers had the
greatest reputation among parents
for sensitivity and caring.
Analysis of usage records To identify the most successful per-
and data formers in a call center, we analyzed
call data to see who completed the
most calls per hour.
In a high school library, we analyzed
checkout records to identify those
students who checked out the most
curriculum-related materials in the
past semester.
The “grapevine” In a welfare agency, we asked a few
managers to tell us who among their
staff were the most informed and
up-to-date on current office affairs.
We then asked these people to tell us
who were the two best welfare
service workers. We kept asking until
no new names arose and chose for
our interviews those workers whose
names were referenced the most often.
The Formal Success Case Survey
There are two fundamental types of SC surveys. One is the survey with
the single intent of identifying the most likely potential success cases.
This type of survey is intended only to “sort out” from among all the
participants in a program those who report the most, and the least, suc-
cess with that particular intervention or program. This single-purpose
survey can be very brief, because it is not intended to gather informa-
tion other than the minimum needed to discriminate highly successful
Using a Survey to Search for Best and Worst Cases
101
The Success Case Method
102
and highly unsuccessful users or participants from all of the rest. In a
study of the success of an initiative that introduced new software for
service technicians, for example, the survey had only four items corre-
sponding to the four possible applications of the software. Each item
asked the respondent to check the item if that particular application
had been used, then to rate on a five-point scale how successful the
application had been (from “very clear success with a measurable out-
come” to “no noticeable success at all”).
The second type of survey has an extended aim of gathering addi-
tional information about the nature and scope of success and may seek
further information as well. In a recent SC study for a large automobile
producer, for example, we were attempting to gauge the success of a
program that provided training and professional assistance to auto deal-
erships via a dedicated satellite television network. The survey in this
example was fairly extensive and had the following parts:
1. Demographic items to describe the role and other characteris-
tics of the respondent
2. Items to report which of the several categories of television
services offered respondents had actually used
3. Rating of the success respondents could report based on their
usage of each service
4. Reactions about the user-friendliness of the service system
5. General attitudes toward the helpfulness or lack of helpfulness
of this and other corporate services
Which type of survey to use depends, of course, on the purpose
of the SC study and the scope of the questions it is seeking to
answer. We begin our discussion of SC survey methods with the single-
purpose survey.

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