A friend of mine recently entered into the following conversation with another individual. The results of which I think are interesting and worthy of at least a brief analysis. I have taken the liberty of anonymizing everything to make sure nobody gets hurt (namely, me).
The friend in question sent an inquisitive message about an Excel formatted report that was to my friend. The following message contains the response to my friends inquiry. Anonymized bits are noted with < >.
Please see my comments below IN CAPS
Original Message with IN CAPS response.
Good afternoon, <Recipient>:
Thank you for sending the top 10 priorities so that all <Institution Name> community members can be apprised as to how the mission of our <Institution> is evolving. I have a few questions, though, that I hope can be easily answered.
Are the priorities in the Excel file in the order in which they will be addressed? THE ORDER REPRESENTS THE NUMBER OF GROUPS (FROM MOST TO LEAST) THAT RANKED THE ISSUE AS ONE OF ITS TOP FIVE CONCERNS
Although the tally of votes is included in the spreadsheet, I am finding it difficult to analyze some of the data. For example, the last listed priority (concerning support for students through research, etc) does not have all of the group votes tallied and ranked,IT DID IN THE VERSION THAT I FORWARDED
and based on the votes that were tallied and ranked, it is indicated that several groups rated that priority #1. I CHOSE TO SELECT THE TOP TEN PRIORITIES BASED ON NUMBER OF GROUPS (QUANTITY) THAT RANKED AN ISSUE AS ONE OF THEIR TOP FIVE CONCERNS AND CHOSE NOT TO CONSIDER RANK ORDERING BECAUSE ALL CONCERNS LISTED HAD TO BE OF A HIGH MAGNITUDE BEING IN THE TOP FIVE.
Are the priorities being ranked on a scale of 1 to 5? 1 to 10? 1-5
Is 5 the highest, or the lowest? 1=HIGHEST; 5=5TH HIGHEST (NOT LOWEST) THE CUTOFF WAS THE TOP TEN PRIORITIES
What is meant by “group?” WE HELD A RETREAT IN AUGUST THAT HAD THIRTY GROUPS WHICH GENERATED AND LISTED PRIORITIES. ALL GROUPS CONSISTED OF FACULTY, STAFF AND STUDENTS
How did the participants choose the top priorities, and how were they ranked? THEY FOLLOWED SOMETHING KNOW AS THE NOMINAL GROUP PROCESS WHICH I CAN’T ELABORATE HERE
Did the faculty and staff come together to choose the top objectives and then rank them in order of priority? FACULTY, STAFF AND STUDENTS
Also, the table in the format in which I have received it shows groups 27 and 30 are in the same column and only one set of results is indicated. THOSE GROUPS WERE COLLAPSED INTO ONE WHEN THEY MET TO DEVELOP THEIR RANKINGS The table has labeled the columns and the groups interchangeably and it is rather confusing to extrapolate the meaning of the numbers in the cells. Some of the sentences explaining the priorities are also not completed (some sentences end with “and” and “as well as”). YOU PROBABLY NEED TO EXPAND THE CELL SIZE TO GET THE ENTIRE PHRASE – THEY ARE COMPLETE, BUT YOUR COPY IS NOT PICKING UP THE ENTIRE WORDING
To summarize, I am having a difficult time reading the results since I was not personally there to experience the group dynamic that would add a context in which this data was collected. I have spoken with someone who was in attendance at the strategic planning meeting who has offered some insight, but I fear others who were not there will have an equally difficult time analyzing what the chart says. PLEASE FEEL FREE TO SHARE MY ANSWERS
Thank you, <Recipient>, for considering my request for a little background detailing the events of the retreat and how the data was collected, and perhaps editing the chart for clarity.
Have a wonderful afternoon!
What can we tell about the messages? What do we know about the authors? What would structural and phenomenological readings reveal? Sadly, I’m rushed for time and can’t answer those questions at this moment but will try to come back and flesh them out. Feel free to respond without me interaction culture community! 🙂
If I were to interpret this phenomenologically I would say that anyone who chooses to use all caps is an idiot, unless they really meant to be yelling the entire time, but that’s just my prejudice, which forms part of my lifeworld. I’m sure someone else could give a closer analysis. 🙂
Taking a structuralist perspective I would say that the person responding to the email didn’t read it closely or didn’t really care about the person who was asking the questions.
I came to this conclusion because if you look at the questions asked, many of them are simply not answered, but sidestepped, saying “look closer” and “I can’t be bothered.” I arrived at this by assuming I shared the same code as the parties involved, and that then used the genre of a question to analyze what was being said. This genre of question is clearly not the rhetorical in nature, they want an answer (see last paragraph). I would also say the writer considers the recipient to be in a higher position than themselves, or at least wants to appear like they do given the tone.
Wish I had time for more, but that’s what I got.