Randy Steer

Government takes its employees abstractly … so they want, and need, a quick 3-paragraph summary of the hundreds of pages of misery and frustration I’ve plowed through.

And therein lies some of the problem. Condensing hundreds of pages of misery into a few numbers and a paragraph or two in a 1-page memo enables the abstraction.

Not that you can force management to read the raw comments, or even get them to read a 3-page memo when they’ve asked for one page — you need to deliver what you’re asked for.

But perhaps you can find ways to make some of the results more concrete and visceral — and less abstract. Imagine finding a big blank wall someplace and taping up print-outs all the *negative* comments in one grouping, maybe on yellow or pink paper, and next to that a grouping (presumably much smaller) of all the *positive* comments, perhaps on green paper. Then imagine a photo of that wall included as an illustration in your one-page memo. Square feet of angst would make the statistics much more “real” than a bar chart.

That’s just an example, but if the problem is — as you’ve speculated — an issue of abstraction, it can’t be addressed by reporting it in abstract forms of statistics.