Like most people, my response rate is directly related to my mood at the moment I am asked.
Lately I've been doing a lot of feedback surveys for companies that are doing some pretty cool things. In addition, I had a quite a spate of Microsoft surveys at their year end.
I do almost any survey from Microsoft because I have a lot invested in their business. I also fill out any reasonable-length survey from companies that appear to really be looking to the future.
You can learn a lot from the questions being asked.
Sometimes the questions reveal a way of thinking about technology that I had not considered before. Like, "Is there ever a need for a console on a server, or should you always be able to do what you want with Integrated Lights Out and RDP?" Hmmm. Good question.
I think about it because it's an interesting question. Someone else is thinking about it because they're designing a new server.
Maybe the response will be an overwhelming "No."
Either way, what is that someone trying to accomplish with the new server? With luck there will be follow-up questions about users, applications, and other possible features.
If they ask enough questions, I can tell myself that I'm getting a vision of what they're up to.
Other surveys are just purely informative. For example, when I get a survey from Robert Half, I get asked about a series of job descriptions and salary ranges. Then I do a survey for Taylor Business Groups and get a different set of descriptions and salary ranges.
In both cases, I notice that "God-Like Mutant Engineer" has suggested ranges that start very high and go way up. But Service Managers have middle-of-the-road salaries and they top out way below some of the engineers.
So when I look at what small consultants are doing, I see something very different. We tend to take the most technically skilled person and make him the service manager. We pay him the salary of a God-like mutant engineer, but he spends 10-20 hours a week doing HR and traffic control.
Maybe we have to because we only have three staff. Nonetheless, it's worth thinking about.
And that gets me thinking about how I might reorganize my team.
Think about that the next time a survey rolls into your inbox . . .
In addition to giving someone else some good information, you might get your own gears turning.
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