Looking at Variation to Prioritize Items for Review – Example of Survey Item Variation for Analysis

Which survey items shall we examine first?

Analysis of variation in survey responses can help determine which resilience characteristics to start examining in depth. A goal in improvement science is to raise the average performance score and lower the standard deviation (SD) or distance from that score. In the case of the Organizational Resilience Capacity Scale, items that have responses which cluster most closely around a high average score can be called ready capabilities or strengths. These are the things already going right. How can we maximize and leverage these specific, existing advantages in this particular work environment?

In the sample graph of responses below, which items have the highest average scores and the lowest standard deviations using SD~1.0 as a cutoff? Are you thinking #s 16, 17, 19, 22, 24, 27, 28, 29, and 30? Items #5 and #13 also have similar high averages but we’d want to look closely at the spread of those responses. What does it indicate?

There are also items with low deviation and low average scores. In this sample set, items #23 and #25 are of particular interest. What is happening with these items? We’d also want to understand the variation behind item #s 1, 3, 4, and 10. What can we learn?

With our employees, three discussion questions are most important:

  1. What does each prioritized belief or behavior look like as it is demonstrated in our setting?
  2. Is each easy or hard to do as we work together? Why?
  3. What could be done to make it even easier to display this belief or behavior more consistently?


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