Ask a silly question’, my father used to say ‘and you get a silly answer’. I have one dataset at the moment which I am using for two different reports: the first is an internal strategy report, and the second is the dissertation for my MSc. This not only demonstrates once again the power of the question to drive the discussion, it also demonstrates the different concerns of business and academia.
It’s like one of those irregular verbs:
- I want to know how my colleagues have used Web 2.0 tools over the past 18 months or so.
- My boss wants to know if they’ve been used responsibly or if it has turned into a cross between FaceBook and the comment threads in You Tube.
- My dissertation supervisor thinks I should explore the way that network groups cut across formal power structures outlined in organisational charts.
I’ll freely accept that my question is just too vague. Answering my boss’s question has been simple but time consuming: select a sample and then click and look. Repeat. (Incidentally, it turns out that the tools have been used entirely responsibly, which shouldn’t really be a surprise.)
The interesting question of course, is the one that my dissertation supervisor is steering me towards: this is the one about how the spider’s web of contacts and favours works within organisations and how (or whether) Web 2.0 tools has supported them. That will require some delicate questioning, and I’m not sure how to approach it.
So just now I am drowning in data, but until I’ve decided on my questions, I have no idea how to slice it and dice it or what answers I’ll find.