We are huge fans of open-ended survey questions. These questions allow survey respondents to share perspectives and ideas in their own words. Letting them take the virtual discussion in their own directions informs collaborative strategy in powerful ways.

While we love our open-ended question approach, though, it’s not the solution in every case.

Incorporating Multiple Strategy Research Approaches

A client that had a multi-year employee perception tracking survey in place chose Brainzooming to develop their next strategy. They readily acknowledged that the quantitative tracking study on employee perceptions that their previous consultant put in place had served them well. It helped monitor progress under their previous strategy and strongly linked strategic initiatives, quantitative results, and employee perceptions.

Given the strong linkage, we recommended maintaining the tracking study going forward; it's valuable for monitoring changes before, during, and after the strategy’s implementation.

Business man pointing to transparent board with text Have Your Say

At the same time, we strongly recommended a qualitative survey to launch strategy development. Open-ended questions uncover the voice of employees, in this case. It allows participants to share both strengths and concerns, in their own words, irrespective of whether management has already identified something and included it in a tracking survey.

We prepared the table below for the client. It helped them see and understand why each research approach deserves its place.


Tracking Survey (Monitor Perceptions and Changes)

Qualitative, Open-ended Survey (To Gain Input into Strategic Possibilities)


•   Looking for changes in perspective

•   Looking for perspectives on changes


•   Learning employee thinking

•   Expanding management thinking


•   Questions stay the same (to track impacts)

•   Questions change each time (to learn new opportunities and issues)


•   Survey everyone or a statistically-projectible sample of people

•   Survey a mix of diverse people without concern for projectability

Timing / Frequency

•  Repeat at regular intervals

•    Repeat as necessary

Short Story?

Each research method — quantitative and qualitative — has its place and time. You simply need to know your objective and what’s important to deliver. – Mike Brown