Survey Feedback/Action Research

From a letter by Robert P. Crosby:

…Later John Scherer and I began a company emphasizing survey feedback as much earlier developed by Floyd Mann and Rensis Likert, colleagues of Dr. Ronald Lippitt who had become both a champion of and master of survey feedback (contrasted to surveys with their data not fed back to each discreet work unit). Done well, there is no more powerful organizational intervention. Ron viewed our work “…as doing more to encourage survey feedback than anyone since Mann and Likert.”

We hired Ron for a series of trainings for professionals. We sold our survey instrument to 600 companies.  To help the reader distinguish between surveys as commonly done and survey feedback, here’s an excerpt from a chapter of mine highly influenced by Ron:

We know what does not work. It does not work to survey people and not show them the results. It also does not work to survey people and have top management or an outside expert develop recommendations (prescriptions). It does not work to survey people and have a general session where results are reported and nothing visible to the employees is done. These approaches have all been tried hundreds of times and have, with rare exceptions, been found wanting. People tend to become irritable and defensive, with a resulting lowered morale and decreased work efficiency.


Begin with the assumption that the expertise to identify problems and, especially, to work out solutions to most problems exists within the organization. The suggestions that follow encourage you to involve the participants in generating the data, interpreting the data, and forging recommendations for next steps. This assumes that the people in your organization have expertise and knowledge and that the job of management is to tap that vein of experience. The late Dr. Ronald Lippitt spoke of a fundamental right: ”They who put their pencil to the survey paper should also see and work the data” (from a private conversation with John Scherer and Robert Crosby).

 Dr. Fred Fosmire, former Vice President of Organizational and Employee Relations at Weyerhaueser, writes: “Survey feedback methods, when implemented competently by managers who are receptive to feedback, may be the most powerful way we know to improve organization effectiveness.

 …There is no more effective way than survey feedback (turning data into action) to involve people quickly at the key points of data gathering, problem solving, solution recommendation, action, and follow-through.

Survey feedback, well donewill increase morale, improve work processes, heal broken work relationships, shift culture, and put into action effective , high-performing behaviors more quickly than any other intervention.

(Excerpt from “Walking the Empowerment Tightrope,” Chapter Five, Survey Feedback, CrosbyOD Publishing, 2015 – Ebook available)


About crosbyod

Crosby & Associates OD is a catalyst for high performance & morale. Our methods are a unique blend grounded in research and decades of experience. In the spirit of Kurt Lewin, the founder of OD, as we partner with you in the present we transfer our methods to you so you are independent in the future. Learn more at
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1 Response to Survey Feedback/Action Research

  1. Troy S says:

    Greaat reading your blog post

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