Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Next steps

I haven't posted for a while, mainly because I spent a large part of my spring break working on a website for Douglass & Associates consulting. Dr. Douglass, who I mentioned before, is using the research and writing for his new book as a catalyst for advancing his consultation services to churches, and part of my work with him has been to develop an internet “face” for this consultation practice. If you have a chance, I would love to get your feedback on this website and its content, especially during this week (4/3-4/9) as I tweak out the fine-tuning, and before I list it on the search engines.

Once I've finished with this project, I want to return to working out my research. Here's a new twist: I started reading Built to Last by Jim Collins over spring break, and their description of the methodology they utilized reminded me of an important aspect I had forgotten. Collins (in Built to Last and Good to Great) and Thom Rainer (in Surprising Insights from the Unchurched, and several other books) both use the same approach when doing a study like mine-- they don't just look for common attributes in the groups of their primary focus, but they also use a comparison group.

Collins describes this as avoiding “discovering buildings.” That is, if he were simply looking at those attributes shared by all of the focus companies that were “built to last,” he might find that all of them had buildings! But most or all companies have buildings, so this cannot be a distinctive of what makes them “built to last.” Instead, he compares them to other (still very good) companies to find out what the differences are, and then looks for commonality among those differences.

Thus, the five factors I teased out of my study, claiming that they led to successful placement, may be erroneous; it may simply be that these five factors lead to placement in general (e.g. buildings). What I need to find are some comparisons: some respondents who were definitely successfully placed, and others who were placed but not necessarily successfully. Comparing the two, I should be better able to determine what truly leads to successful placement.


Clay Johnson said...

At 1280x1024 in Firefox, the font in the menu to the left of the picture is quite difficult to read. On the other pages (e.g., the headings spill over from the white to the maroon boarder making the heading more difficult to read and looking a bit ackward. Other than those two tiny things, it looks great!

Ed said...

Clay-- thanks for your comments. I was already thinking about adjusting both of those elements, and your post motivated me to do so. See how it looks now.

Also, are you graduating in May? If so, how is your search going? I'd love to hear about it...

Clay Johnson said...

Looks great now, Ed! No, I'm only half way through and I took the year off to help ease the family burden in light of the constant therapy Eliot gets for mild autism. Back to CTS part-time in the fall and full time in the spring, DV.