A common question we get is, "Why are each of my top thoughts only rated by a subset of my participants?" Put another way, leaders want to know how to extrapolate what matters to their communities from lists of thoughts that may have only been rated by a few dozen people each. This article describes how themes play a critical role in analyzing the results of an Exchange. If you would like to learn more about how average rating scores for thoughts are calculated, click here.
The top thoughts list is meant to give leaders an idea of the types of thoughts that are rising to the top of their Exchange. Generally speaking, these are a starting point for leaders in determining what matters most to their participants, but thoughts in isolation don’t tell the entire story. While it may be the case that a top thought was only rated by 20 or 30 people, other people in the Exchange have usually shared thoughts about the same topic, and each of those thoughts was rated too.
- Leaders can see which ideas came up most often in their Exchange.
- Leaders can see what sorts of ideas were seen as the most and the least important by participants.
- Participants don't have to rate every thought in the Exchange. Their rating for a particular thought within a theme is an important part of determining the average rating for that set of thoughts.
While not every participant will rate each thought in an Exchange (especially in Exchanges with hundreds or thousands of thoughts), participants are likely to rate thoughts from a wide variety of themes. When thoughts are combined into themes, leaders can get a more complete understanding of what matters to their participants as a group without those participants being required to respond to every single idea.
An Exchange is meant to provide an opportunity for participants to share their ideas and respond to the perspectives of others around important issues. Some of the insights that come from running an Exchange are more actionable than others and it is always up to the leaders of an Exchange to determine the best course of action. ThoughtExchange allows them to consider the thoughts and opinions of their community in making tough decisions, but it does not prescribe those decisions.