Gaps between median rankings, expressed as percentages of the lower ranking, tells more than just nominal rankings

Wading through survey rankings by law department managers of why law firms are reluctant to embrace alternatives to hourly billing, I dutifully listed the results in declining average rank order. Having done so, I was struck by the uneven gaps between some of the rankings. In fact, as I calculated the percentage difference from the highest ranked explanation to the second highest, I realized that among the nine choices, three clusters presented themselves. Each cluster of two or three reasons had a large percentage gap between it and the adjoining cluster.

The gaps between some of the average rankings highlighted how dominant the respondents thought the highest ranking reason was. The gap to the next reason was 33% of the highest score. Reasons two and three were in a dead heat so they formed a cluster. Then there was a 20% gap to the fourth-ranked reason, which stood very close to the fifth, as a cluster. The final item, ranked lowest, was off the chart low. I think this method of gap analysis has much promise.

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