Quantitative data is essential to determine the performance of an organization.
It tells you where you have been and is an excellent predictor of where you might end up if you don’t change your strategic direction. But you need to ensure that quantitative data doesn’t become the sole basis of making strategic decisions.
This might sound odd coming from a consultant who provides data-driven organizational development software using our SmartPlan360™ Program, still, there are many ways quantitative data and its improper use can negatively impact an organization’s strategic direction.
For example, an organization that has reported thirty million dollars in annual income for four years in a row may not produce a sustainable outcome if it executes the identical strategy for the next four years. The reason might be, there may be a hidden inhibitor at work that is constraining the organization. Invisible to even senior leadership, this inhibitor may be quite active, producing its negative impact.
An example of this type of inhibitor is a strong reluctance to change anything working well. After all, why change a successful strategy if it produces its desired effect?
Then, without notice, a competitor introduces a new way of doing things into your market, and this organization finds itself entirely off guard and quickly begins losing market share and its leadership position. How could this happen?
Inhibitors often hide in plain sight.
In a challenging business environment, senior leaders may not want to bet on anything that poses an uncertain outcome preferring to stay with the status quo. This low risk tolerance is often driven by personal interests not to rock the boat. And this pattern of leadership tends to create an environment where people play it safe and stay away from new ideas. Ironically, this can lead the organization into troubling competitive waters.
So be careful to use quantitative data for what it’s best at. Telling you where you have been, but always be suspicious that it may lead you to a place you do not want to go. To find new ideas, combine qualitative data analysis to balance where are you’ve been against where you could go.
Example Quantitative Survey Question:
How many times do you use Product A in a month?
- 2-3 times
- 4 or more times
Example Qualitative Survey Question:
How would you improve the performance of Product A?
Follow up asking “Why” will this produce a product improvement?
Of course, whether or not you use quantitative research data or qualitative survey questions very much depends on the specific research goals you have established. Knowing what you are trying to find out is the first step in developing a successful, research-driven strategy. In most cases, it’s best to begin with quantitative research and then qualify the results with qualitative survey questions. Using both quantitative and qualitative research is the gold standard to understand your audience segments.