Survey or Questionnaire?

Birthday cake
Image by Sami Malallah via Flickr

I was asked by one of the blog readers about the difference between surveys and questionnaire. We can easily get confused because they are doing almost the same thing. Surveys are more popular because most of the researchers use them to collect information from large population. But surveys need statistical calculations to analyse and interpret. Surveys are mostly used for quantitative researches. The surveys are usual printed on few pages and distributed in classrooms, shopping centers or social gatherings. Recently, most of the surveys are conducted online thought free survey services like Zoomerang or SurveyMonky who can collect and analyse the data for competitive prices.  Questionnaires are used for qualitative researches and usually conducted in a face-to-face setting.

Survey is a set of questions prepared with answers to choose from. For example the question can be “what is your favorite sweet after a good meal?” the answer can be: 1) cheese cake 2) chocolate cake 3) fruit salad 4) fresh apple. The survey participant will choose one answer. Questionnaires are set of questions to ask open-ended questions to get the participants perception or experience on the studied subject. Question can be “What do you like to eat after you main meal when you dine in a restaurant?”

Communication Channels

Organizations have different communications channels to send strategies, objectives, instructions, and feedbacks to its employees. The same channels are available for upward communications like problems, results, suggestions, questions and workers’ needs (Schermerhorn, Hunt, & Osborn, 2008). Different communications channels are needed for different communications richness. Communication richness materialize in the content of the communication. General information like the morning weather condition can have different richness. A note with the expected morning temperatures wind speed has low message richness. But detailed hourly weather report updated on your computer screen is considered a rich report. Some organizations find written memo as the main communication method. Face-to-face communications is the considered the second best communications channel because of the advancement in the video and audio communication through the Internet. Face-to-face communications is two-way communications channel which is preferred for its richness but not desired because of it’s relatively slowness to reach most workers in the organization.value face-to-face communication is rich but slow when compared with e-mails and electronic bulletins (Schermerhorn et al., 2008). So the choice of communication channel depends on the desired richness and speed of distribution to have the desired effectiveness and efficiency. Effective communications is achieved when the intended meaning of the message equal the perceived meaning. The efficient communications is reached when the intended meaning reaches the intended receivers at the lowest cost by using the available resources (Schermerhorn et al., 2008). A good example of and efficient way of communicating an effective message is by connecting a live weather report on the company’s intranet portal. The workers will read the report when they need a weather update from the computer screed on in the convince of their offices.


Schermerhorn, J. R., Hunt, J. G., & Osborn, R. N. (2008). Organizational Behavior (10 ed.). NY: John Wiley & Sons.

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Meetings: Sneaker Time?

Listen to this postMost of us have been in a meeting which ended without solving the discussed issues. The meeting participants leave the meeting to meet again in the nearby walkway to discuss the unfinished subject from the meeting. Sometimes they continue the discussion over the phone to complain how unproductive the meeting was. They use the phone to conclude some of the issues discussed in the meeting.
Sneaker time is the time spent by the meeting participants after the meeting discussing the open issues. Sneaker time discussion takes more time and waste many resources. The discussion after the meeting is usually between 2-3 meeting participants, the rest of the participants are not aware of the followup discussion and there is a good chance that they will not even know the outcome of the follow-up discussion.
Meeting discussion is usually documented and circulated for information and action. Sneaker time discussion is rarely documented and almost never circulated. The actions items from the sneaker time discussion can be dangerous because only few people know about them and approve them. These action may contradict with other action items generated by another group in side discussions similar to the sneaker time.
Well managed meetings should discuss and analyze the meeting agenda’s times to reach solutions and action plan that prevent the need for further discussion. The meeting chairperson should manage the meeting while thinking of the possibility of sneaker time after the meeting. The target should be to reduce the sneaker time to meeting time ratio. The meeting participants should leave the meeting without the need for further discussion on the meeting action items.

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Meetings: What Is Really Going On?

Listen to this postWe spend few hours everyday in meetings. Some meetings are short and simple, like a one-on-one meeting to discuss specific issues and take decisions. Other meetings are usually last between half to full hour with attendance between 3 to 7 participants half of them do not know why they are sent to the meeting. Some meetings are large, noisy, crowded and long. They are more like a workshop than a meeting but they exist in the business world and many of us had survived few of them. These large meetings are the least productive meetings because they are difficult to control. It would be almost impossible In such meetings to listen to every participants’ input and give them enough time to discuss their thoughts.
Mismanaged meeting consume the management time and effort and hold the participants in a place were they are only listening instead of working on important issues outside the meeting. You will know that you are in a mismanaged meeting when the participates have side talks and others are frequently checking their iPhones and Blackberries instead of participating in the meeting. You will know that you have been in a good meeting when everybody leave the room knowing enough about the subject to describe it to anybody who ask them about it later. The participants in a good meeting will leave the meeting with a set of actions to take with a specific outcome on a target date. They know whom they should contact for clarifications and to whom they should report their progress. This post is an introduction to a series of posts on the same subject I will be updating in the coming days.

Take A Note

Listen to this postWe have many wonderful ideas that cross our minds but we forget them after a while. Som experts estimated that every person would have thought of four new ideas that can make him or her a millionaire every year. But we do not record the ideas or elaborate on them. One simple tool can help work on these ides. The tool is a simple a notebook and a pen or pencil. You can use your phone or PDA as a notebook if you are a tech savvy. Record the idea in the note taking device and let it there for some time. Check you notebook from time to time and think about what you have written it, and start wondering “is this is a good idea?” should I develop it any further? Do not delete the note if you do not think it has any value now. Just keep it there in the notebook it guarantee that it will not harm you. You brain will be working on the idea subconsciously without you knowing about it. After some time the idea will be more detailed and organized to form a concept that fits in a useful context. So, keep a noting device near you always and write your thought whenever possible, who knows you might be a millionaire very soon!

Your Discussion

Listen to this postWe have discussed many issues, challenges and opportunities with different people but we rarely notice how we discuss or negotiate. We start the discussion with a strong believe that we are right and are able to convince the other side to agree with us. We should open the door for the other side to express and discuss their points also. Their ideas might be better than ours but we will find difficulty in accepting their points. The best way to go about such conflict of interest is to share our views and be ready to integrate or mix both ideas and come up with a solution that please both sides. Lions mark their territories with their urine, and I do not suggest that you do the same for your ideas during the discussion, but give the others a chance to change, ultra, expand or add part of their thoughts into the final solution and they will definitely agree with you. Sometimes, when you offer a complete solution to a different department or organization you notice that somebody for that department will disagree and become a roadblock. All you need to do is to give them a chance to review your offer and suggest how you can customize it to their needs. If the changes they suggested are not fundamental then incorporate their input into the offer and announce that they have helped you to reach the final solution. You will see them championing your work and help you in many ways.

Live Without TV

Listen to this postMany people like TV and the entertainments it deliver to our homes, but recently, most of the entertainments are targeted to attract the audience attention than entertain them. The best entertainment for me is documentaries and scientific programs. By watching these program I would be educated if not entertained and I would not be stressed or sad like if I watched the drama or reality TV. The new shows are encouraging us to vote by sending an SMS message that cost the price of a good meal!?
Last week was a long holiday in Kuwait and most of the people either traveled out of Kuwait or stayed and enjoyed the nice weather in the outdoors. My relatives were in the chalet for most of the holiday. I noticed that most of the teenagers were spending their time in the outdoors. They enter the chalet only for the basic necessities. They had so much fun by socializing, walking and talking. They enjoyed relaxing peacefully and watch the sea and nobody was watching the TV? But before the long holidays they were addicted to the TV and were wasting most of their valuable time watching unimportant programs. I guess they are now back to watching the  TV although they discovered how unimportant it was!

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Let’s Talk About The Weather

The best conversation ice breaker is the weather. When you have nothing good to say, but you want to start a decent conversation, you can start by saying “We are having a nice weather today” or  “It is cold/hot today!” and that’s it. You just started a nice conversation with a friend, family member or a total stranger.

The weather in November in Kuwait is amazing. It is not cold, not hot or humid. It is just nice to be outside to talk, walk or enjoy you cup of tea. If you are now in Kuwait and happen to be near a tree called Sedra then I would recommend that you just stop by it and smell the nice scent from its beautiful white flowers. The smell is similar to the Jasmin scent but with a desert twist. The smell usually last of a month and after that a delicious fruit will replace the flowers. I took this picture with my phone and I was lucky to catch a busy bee selecting the best flowers for its honey.

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Planning and Arranging Time

Listen to this postMost of us are busy. Some are busy at work, others are busy with school work, many are busy socializing and networking. Most of us return back home and complain that we don’t have enough time for everything we want to do. The best time maker is planning. The general rule says that ten minutes of  planning will save you 100 hundred minutes in execution. You will have an organized and well planned tomorrow if you spare few minutes by the end of each day to plan what you are going to do tomorrow. By planning you will identify which activity has more importance and value for your time and effort. You will also plan the best time to do each task. Your subconscious will be working on your pan while you are sleeping and you would wake up with a refined plan in the morning. Changes and new issues in the morning will demand some changes to your plan but overall you will have a more productive day if you plan it a head of time. Without a plan, you will be like building a house without deciding how many rooms are needed and how many windows for each room. By planning, you would know were the furniture will be arranged in every room before hammering the first nail.

There Is Only 24 Hours Every Day

Listen to this postWe have only 24 hours in every day. I am sure that you know this fact but I just thought of reminding you. Some of us would like to have more hours everyday, while many people complain of boredom and say “I have nothing to do” or “I can not think of anything interesting things around me!”  I am one of those people who wish we can store time and use it when we need it most. But actually I do not have extra time to store for later use. I consume most of my time between work, exercise, family and study. Oh, yes, I forget to mention sleep!

Some days I come home from work at 5 PM to have my main hot meal then take a long nap ( or short sleep) and wake up at 9:00 PM to start studying until the early hours of the morning. Late night studying is very good because of the concentration. No distractions because everybody at home would be sleep or ready to sleep. The worst part of this plan is messing the quality time with the family and the uncontrolled weight gain. For those who complain of boredom I would recommend they read a book.

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