by Dean Witherspoon   Dean's profile on LinkedIn  

We’ve helped several clients conduct simple to elaborate needs assessments recently and are struck by the seemingly illogical conclusions reached by some high-level managers. When it comes to health data, market research rules sometimes get tossed in favor of opinion or the way they think things ought to be. Here are 4 common mistakes to avoid:

  • Don’t expect your research to necessarily produce dramatic news. Some managers want to justify their project by making something from nothing. If you’re lucky, the data will grow in your direction over time, but just as often it moves in the other direction and you’ve made the wrong decision.
  • Don’t make good news out of bad. If 51% of the survey group is “somewhat in favor” of the action but 29% are "strongly opposed,” you’re probably dealing with a largely neutral to negative audience on this issue — back off, or regroup and try a different approach.
  • Don’t make projections from samples that are too small. Even the most seasoned health promoter will sometimes make a single positive or negative comment the primary factor in changing direction.
  • Don’t mistake opinion for fact. The CEO saying it doesn’t make it so. Counter strong, wrong opinions with data.

Even more common is the paucity of data collected before big decisions are made. If you’re contemplating major additions, deletions, or changes to the way you manage your program, do comprehensive research — internally and externally — then evaluate it honestly. You’ll sleep better. 

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