Green Products Research: The Dress Rehearsal
I can commiserate with the producers of “Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark.” Maybe my research project isn’t as bloated (zero- versus a zillion-dollar budget), but some completion dates have slipped as I’ve worked to—ahem—fine tune my research methodology and survey instrument through what seems like endless iterations.
But the delay has really been OK. As anxious as I am to swing into action like our friendly neighborhood web slinger, I’ve learned some things that will hopefully reduce heart burn along the way:
- Even Smart People Like Simple Words: On an earlier draft of my survey instrument, I was told it was too complex and littered with MBA-speak. At first I was taken aback: “What, don’t business people use words ‘commercialize’ and ‘framework?’” It’s not that they don’t, but a long string of challenging words tends to create barriers for respondents to participate when, in fact, it’s much better to remove them.
- Stay on Target: It was painful to cut one of my favorite questions—a scenario-based multiple choice—from the survey, but when an adviser reminded me of the research goal, it just didn’t seem as relevant anymore.
- Think It All the Way Through: When I first imported my questionnaire into an online survey administrator, I admired the very official-looking University of Oregon header and thought I was on my way. Then I started compiling lists for the sampling frame. Turns out what I thought would be an e-mail-based campaign will now have to be done through the phone. The change in communication mode meant I had to re-script the survey for ears rather than eyes. Believe me, it makes a difference.
- Testing 1-2-3: It never hurts to get a few members of the target audience to take the survey and provide feedback. You never know what you may learn along the way. For example, one product manager mistook the term “product life cycle” to be a description of a revenue curve rather than the meaning within the intended sustainability context.
Well, like Spidey, I’m toughing out the bumps and bruises. After all, the show must go on.
–Doug Anderson, CSBP 2011