Archive for January, 2017



Qualitative Research: Through a Different Lens

Posted on: January 26th, 2017 by doyle

PrintFrom the desk of Kathy Doyle

I spent last week in LA at QRCA’s 2017 annual conference.   It continues to be the “go to” event for qualitative research practitioners who want to stay abreast of trends and share best practices with colleagues.

This year the theme of the conference was The Power of Perspective – looking outside our industry for insights, as well as observing our industry through a different lens.  Through five standout presentations, I gained insights from teen journalists, a radio show host, a comedian and theater major, an attorney, detective, ASL interpreter, visual illuminator, zoo director, storyteller, educator, conductor, social worker, and even a forensics expert!   Many thanks to Teen Press, Susan Sweet and Jay Picard, Laurie Tema-Lyn, Chris Kann, and Dina Shulman and Marc Engel for your fabulous contributions.

Five things I took away from the conference (plus so many more!):

  1. Talk less, listen more.    Across a variety of professions that listen for a living, some variation of that theme emerges.     Observe body language.  Mirror physical responses.  Empathize.   But stop talking so much!
  2. Resist the urge to fill the silences in an interview or focus group.  Sometimes sitting with the silence will reveal insights that simply take longer to emerge.   And sometimes a long pause is………… part of the answer.
  3. Look to Hollywood for storytelling inspiration.    View your report as a story, with a plotline and characters.  View the executive summary as a trailer.   Make sure your report features the equivalent of the “I want” song found in most musicals.   And, when appropriate, create composite characters (what we call personas) that represent key segments.
  4. Rethink the belief that maintaining objectivity is the best stance to take as a researcher.  Perhaps it’s OK to reveal parts of yourself–to be human, and to truly immerse yourself in your respondent’s world–to convey context and gain deeper, more authentic insights.
  5. Reconsider how we ask Q’s.  Consider starting specific rather than general, upsetting the funnel approach which has been our gospel. Perhaps that completely open-ended question is too open and leads to responses that are too broad to yield true insight.  And consider the value of asking your respondents to ask questions of themselves, rather than doing all the questioning.   You might be surprised at what you learn.

I walked away feeling energized and empowered to look at what we do, on a daily basis,  with a fresh perspective.

Building Rapport: A Key Ingredient of Successful Qualitative Projects

Posted on: January 17th, 2017 by doyle

rapportFrom the desk of Jo-Ann Ryan

During the course of my qualitative career, clients and colleagues have told me that one of my strengths is being able to establish rapport with people from all walks of life. So I would like to share what I have learned about fostering trust and encouraging candid responses:

Setting expectations upfront. This seems basic but it’s important. When the moderator informs respondents about what to expect during a qualitative interview or group discussion (e.g., the length, the topic, the purpose, recording of the research, observers/listeners, etc.), it increases their comfort level and makes them more likely to share their thoughts and feelings.

Showing respondents unconditional positive regard (UPR). A good moderator should convey to respondents that all perspectives and opinions are welcome and respected. It begins with the moderator’s belief and attitude that everyone has something to offer – an opinion, an idea, or an experience — a potential nugget that could make the entire project worthwhile. During introductions, set the tone by acknowledging each person by name and thanking them for sharing information about themselves.

Being genuine. I think respondents are more apt to respond honestly if they sense that the moderator is being open with them, and is being true to their own personality and style.

Realizing you can’t judge a book by its cover. It is natural to form an initial impression of people based on appearance, but the moderator and clients should not let it get in the way of listening to each person and believing that each person represents a unique perspective that has value. I have been pleasantly surprised by what I had initially expected from a respondent versus what they actually were able to contribute.

Having an open mind. It is not uncommon to begin a qualitative study with client hypotheses about what we will discover during the research (e.g., why customers are dissatisfied, which ad or concept will be most appealing). However, the moderator and clients need to be ready to accept differing ideas and perspectives that could potentially lead to a complete redo of an ad campaign or a major refinement of a new product concept.

The bottom line – establishing good rapport with qualitative respondents can yield valuable insights for clients, and respondents will feel appreciated for their time and willingness to take a risk and share their honest thoughts and feelings.