As we’re in the middle of the Rio Olympics, it would seem fitting to ask if there’s anything we can learn from this sporting bonanza, aside from the obvious lessons about teamwork, never giving up, and so forth. Well, maybe there is – and it comes from a perhaps surprising place, namely the history of the High Jump event.
Right up until the 1960s, competitors used a variety of different techniques to get over the bar, but their options were limited by what they encountered the other side of the bar – namely, a pit filled with sand. Landing in anything other than an upright position would be uncomfortable, if not outright risky for athletes who could not afford to get injured.
But then everything changed. Advances in technology meant that the sandpit could be replaced with proper landing equipment – inflatable mattresses – which would significantly reduce the possibility of injury to the athletes. Many carried on using the tried-and-trusted jumping techniques they had used successfully in the years before – but not Dick Fosbury. He spotted the fact that the mattresses not only made traditional landings safer, but made new kinds of landing (namely, on your back) possible.
So, enter stage right – the “Fosbury Flop”. And although this new style came in for a certain amount of ridicule to start with, it wasn’t long before others adopted it. Why? Because results were significantly better. Every Olympic High Jump medal since the mid-1970s has been won using Fosbury’s innovation, and now nobody would dream of doing it any other way.
So what’s the relevance to employee engagement surveys? I’m glad you asked. Computers are the survey’s inflatable mattress. Before computers, we had paper surveys – the best technology available a hundred years ago. But when computers became widespread, what did we do? Did we use their power to innovate? Nope – we simply made computerised versions of the paper survey. Was this innovative? Nope – not in the slightest. Yet the vast majority of surveys run are still, essentially, paper forms.
So, enter stage right, Thymometrics. We’ve “done a Fosbury”, starting with the aim of improving the survey by throwing away the established ideas, taking full advantage of the power of technology, and producing an innovative new approach against which no traditional survey can compete. Gone are the traditional lists of questions, in favour of a slicker, quicker, snappier approach … and yet the analytics are richer, more useful and more probing than anything achievable with the old approach – and they’re real-time. So if you’re still using a traditional survey, maybe it’s time to switch to something more likely to win you a gold medal?
Image courtesy of NOC