Archive for the ‘Acts of Lunacy’ Category

Working from Home, Qualitatively

Posted on: September 29th, 2016 by doyle

image1From the desk of Natanya Rubin

It’s 12:30 in the afternoon on a Wednesday, and my assistant project manager and I are wearing matching XXL Kideation tee shirts and borrowed shorts, waiting for our work clothes to come out of the dryer. This is my first day working out of our temporary Doyle Research headquarters in a private residence in the Chicago suburbs, a stop-over as we transition to a co-working space downtown, and I must say, it’s started with a bang, or rather, a downpour.

Our moderators are used to working in all kinds of locations, and under all kinds of conditions. When they’re on the road, a hotel room, focus group facility, coffee shop, classroom, or living room can all serve as a mobile qualitative office. For the field team, the transition from the office to an offsite location has been full of unexpected benefits. Being caught in a thunderstorm during a lunchtime walk and returning to the office soaking wet would normally be an uncomfortable experience, but not if your office comes equipped with a dryer!

Of course, there are challenges to setting up in temporary quarters as well. Our IT department has been working non-stop to make sure we’re all connected to the resources we need to do our jobs wherever we are. Shared spaces create opportunities for collaboration, but also raise the eternal question, Where am I going to take this 90 minute conference call without making my colleagues want to kill me?

Our sojourn at DRA North will be brief, but I’ll miss it when we move into our new, more traditional office space. This time has been a lesson in flexibility, creative problem solving, and, in nice weather, precisely how many feet of firewire cord is needed to take the conference phone out to the back deck.

Acts of Complete Lunacy (an occasional series from our operations department)

Posted on: December 19th, 2012 by doyle

Coffee Consensus

Because we expect our employees to be sharp all the time–not just when they are conducting research–we like to keep them well caffeinated. In fact, if I thought it would increase efficiency and brainpower, I might be inclined to invest in one of those misters that you see at the zoo or amusement parks, spraying coffee instead of water so we could ingest the good stuff all day long.

Of course, since something so creative might also be in defiance of OHSA, we have opted for one of those single cup coffee makers. I would like to say that it’s because we value everyone’s individual tastes, but that wouldn’t be true. What is true is that, while we are all pretty smart, we often lack the knowledge and skill to make a decent pot of coffee, That, and the historic building where our office is located threatened us with eviction if we kept leaving on the fire hazard coffee pot all night.

Common sense would say that most of our hot beverage inclinations could be satisfied with one version of caffeinated, one decaf, and one hot tea. And if you believe that, well, you obviously haven’t met our staff. Our initial stock of three options was met with disgust and dismay. How could I expect anyone to suffer through a cup of Earl Grey tea when Lemon Lift was her favorite? The coffee was not strong enough. The coffee was too strong. It wasn’t listed as fair trade or organic and how could I possibly support inhumane coffee trading practices? How, indeed.

My first thought was to print a list of local coffee and tea purveyors that they might want to check out; but that would be in opposition to my goal of increased productivity. So, I acquiesced. We now have 47 types of coffee, tea, and hot chocolate for our staff of 10.

I guess I should have seen it coming with an office of qualitative researchers. Like the groups we conduct, consensus is rarely the reality … or the goal. If we were a quant shop or had hundreds on staff, I couldn’t accommodate everyone’s opinions and would be forced to pick the top five options—validated with statistics of course. But with our small group, I can listen to all the individual tastes and desires and do my best to accommodate. And so I have.

Coffee, anyone? We have all kinds!

Acts of Lunacy (an occasional series from our Operations department)

Posted on: September 4th, 2012 by doyle


Early in my career I supervised the recruiting operation for the market research company where I worked. Now, I believe in the world of work there is truly a lid for every pot. No matter what the talent, there’s a job for which everyone is uniquely qualified. My proverbial pot was not the recruiting center. Rather than a lid, I was more like a basset hound—built all around wrong for the task. But I needed the job so I took over recruiting operations.

I inherited a couple of recruiters who I’ll call Trish and Sparkle because well, those were their names and I can’t possibly make up anything better. We were in the midst of one of those nightmarish recruits. We scheduled every recruiter to work all weekend to finish the project. On Thursday night Trish and Sparkle came to me and pleaded for Friday night off to attend the best party ever. I explained my “no decision” by using phrases like crunch time, teamwork and no way in hell. They were clearly disappointed.

Friday afternoon Trish and Sparkle showed up for work wearing mini skirts, stiletto high heels and outlandish eye make-up—exactly the look you’d expect for an evening of phone recruiting. At 7:45pm Trish came to me claiming illness and asked to go home. At 7:48pm Sparkle approached my desk and did the same. I suggested a break to see if that might cure their illness. They said it would be of no use since they were really sick and needed to leave work immediately.

As you can probably imagine, Trish and Sparkle didn’t have a long or distinguished career at that particular company. In fact their employment was terminated at 8:03pm that same evening. That was early in my career and it would have been easy to assume that all employees would also try to scam me. It would have been a huge disservice to the 28 recruiters who stayed and worked extremely hard that weekend. Together we completed the recruit.

Honestly this type of thing happens every weekend in recruiting centers. It would be ridiculous to allow the lack of trustworthiness of a few to overshadow the good work of most phone recruiters. It’s the anomalies that provide the good stories. In reality it’s the professional recruiters who help us find our respondents. Nevertheless if you ever have to supervise a duo named Trish and Sparkle, I’d be cautious.