At the Enterprise 2.0 conference last month, in the session "Metrics in the hands of users: empowering the Enterprise 2.0 Workforce", I learned about a feedback tool called Rypple, which self-identifies as a tool which "helps you get timely, specific, and actionable feedback from people you trust." It's like a survey tool that met Twitter and is considering signing up for FriendFeed. I can see this tool having particular usefulness within the enterprise, e.g. for soliciting after-action feedback from a project team that is comprised of internal team members, clients, and vendors.
Daniel Debow, co-CEO and Rypple founder, who spoke at the E2.0 session I attended, said that a key feature of this tool is its low transaction cost. He said "If you only put out one survey a year, it's really important that you distill out that one bit of message and then consider what it means to you based on the personality type. If the cost is low, you’ll do it much more often. A large stream of constant data means no individual piece of information is way more important than anything else."
It is simple to use - go to Rypple.com, create an account, and then ask one question. You're limited to 140 characters for the question, but there does not appear to be a limit on valid email addresses to which you can send your question.
Once you send the question, feedback from your respondents arrives via e-mail and is also collected online. All responses are anonymous.
Rypple also encourages you to ask your question multiple times and to share it with the Rypple community (and promises that Twitter and Facebook broadcasting is coming soon.) As you ask more questions, you're able to see metrics about how the question ratings are trending.
One thing that stands out for me about the tool is that it's so simple and friendly for the "advisers" (the recipients of your question). They can answer the question by responding to the notification email, or online, and it's a much less intimidating format than a survey.
One of the compelling cases cited in the E2.0 session was how the head of orthopedic surgery at UPenn used it to get feedback from his interns on his teaching style. He wasn't able to get it from them in interviews because the cost of saying the wrong thing was apparently so great that it wasn’t worth the payoff. When he used Rypple, according to Debow, "all of a sudden telling him the truth cost less and signalled socially that he wanted to know."
Anonymity is likely to make your respondents feel more free to tell the truth, and the ease of use of this tool makes it convenient for both respondent and requestor.