Friday, November 12, 2010

Surveys and questionnaires

These days I'm being asked a lot for my opinion. In the last month I've been requested to fill in 'customer satisfaction' surveys on behalf of two different hotel chains I've used, and by two large companies from which I've made purchases online. I must admit that I'm always somewhat dubious about such things. If I am not happy, I usually make my feelings quite clear at the time! And I always harbour the suspicion that information I may disclose on completing such surveys may be used for marketing purposes in the future. Hence these requests usually go into the wastebin.

Still, feedback questionnaires have their uses - they were an important part of my life as a university teacher some years ago! It helps if you know that the people asking the questions definitely want to know your feelings and will be prepared to act on them.

So I was very pleased to see that Bruce Crawford, the new CEO of the Royal Club, has put together some questions for members, the answers to which will help the Royal Club to develop its work and plans for the next four years from April 2011. The link to the survey was in Hit and Roll, the November Email Newsletter, which can be read here, if you don't subscribe.

Bruce says, "We are currently looking for feedback from members on the things that we currently do or that you would like us to do in future. Once we have reviewed the comments to this survey we will produce a short summary of these views and publish this on the website before moving to the next steps of developing the strategy."

The survey questions include:
1. What do you think we do well, what works in curling or what does not need to change?
2. What do we not do well, what do we need to change, what doesn't work in curling?
3. What new things should we be doing for member curlers and curling generally?
4. What do you see as the problems that face curling in Scotland today?
5. Looking forward, what three things would be your priorities for the Royal Club to work on?
6. The Royal Club has an international role as the 'Mother Club' of world curling. What activities, initiatives or responsibilities should this include in our strategy?
7. What would your club need, for it to be able to attract and develop more curlers?
8. What is the one thing that prevents you from curling more?

Completing the survey gives you the opportunity to be included in the subsequent development of the Royal Club's strategy. The deadline for completing the online questionnaire is December 5. Find the link to the survey here.

These are not easy questions, and will require members to give them a bit of thought. But I fervently hope that many do respond. Not to do so is the equivalent of saying 'I don't give a toss' about the future of the sport in Scotland. It's the equivalent of just giving your proxy to those currently running things. And don't even begin to think, 'Well, they were elected....." Many more Scottish curlers will look at this blog post TODAY than voted in the election for the directors' positions on the Board last summer. You have the franchise. You can make a difference. Apathy is the sport's biggest enemy. Take the time to fill out the survey.

I'll certainly be doing so.

The Royal Club has been asking for feedback on other things recently. Competitions Manager Colin Hamilton has asked all competitors in the Scottish Men's Championship how they think the prequalifying should be organised. And if you were involved in the recent Indoor Grand Match, then your views would be welcomed, see here.

If I'm talking of questionnaires and surveys, I have to mention the British Curling's Olympic and Paralympic Games survey, which was headed up, independently, by Simon Timson. I understand that this sought to find out just what went wrong with our Olympic programme for Vancouver. Timson is head of the English Cricket Board's development programme (see here), and was the person who put bob skeleton on the map ten years or so ago. Given his background, I believe that Timson was an excellent choice as the 'investigator'. Timson's report was submitted back in September. I do not know the extent of its circulation.

Apparently, all those involved in the Olympic programme at every level were asked for their feedback. Given the climate of secrecy that surrounds all things to do with British Curling, I do not hold out much hope that even a sanitized version of Timson's report will ever be published for us all to read. Likely, the best we can hope for is that those who will be running the next four year (three and a bit, now) cycle will learn from it. After all, learning from mistakes is what life is all about! I'm guessing here, but I suspect that the various changes to the performance curling programme at the Sportscotland Institute of Sport, which are currently being implemented, may well be one consequence of Timson's survey.

It's easy to ask questions. It's what we do with the answers which is the hard part!