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There is a difference between initiating and imitating. One can lead or follow the pack. Followers are rarely blamed for remaining in the back of the group, but they will never set the pace or determine the direction; they are guided by the ones ahead of them, whom they will never surpass. Following might appear "safe," but only to the extent that the group followed is going where you wish to go.

Surveys are vital for context, but they are no substitute for vision. Only the one leading the pack is choosing their own direction; the others mindlessly imitate.

Any survey involving numbers is more complex, because they have variances, with relatively few participants actually sitting at the median or average. The art of intelligent survey reliance is consciously selecting the segment you choose to follow: it is rarely the norm, unless you want to be an average firm.

This is a great paragraph....
"So before you make that next reward presentation ask yourself whether your decisions and your recommendations are adding value to the organization. Or was your analysis complete once the survey data suggested a common trend? Once you saw the answer."

Great post ---- let surveys be only one consideration when deciding on merit budgets, etc. Surveys are comprised of many companies in your industry (usually) but they have different business strategies, cultures, comp philosophies, etc. which need to be considered as well. So surveys results taken in a vacuum aren't the answer. Comp people need (desparately need) to have more business acumen so they understand this. Any "noodle-head" can just plug in the magic survey number and throw it over the fence to management for approval.

From the comments I've been receiving, here and elsewhere, it would appear that pushing the EASY button is an all-too-common tactic these days. The fear of sticking one's head out is a powerful inducement to play it safe.

On the other hand, shame on some management for assuming that surveys hold the Rosetta Stone for their comp programs.

Well now Chuck you bring up an interesting topic --- at least for me. Dan knows it too! :-)

The BOD makes decisions on CEO pay based on survey data almost exclusively. What's good for the goose is good for the gander!

CEO pay? There are more than a few folks out there who believe that high CEO compensation is based at least partly on the advice of high priced consultants - who are in turn paid by the CEO.

Ah, the cynical masses!

Ah . . . . and the high priced consultants rely on survey data. After all, who can argue with data??

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