Archive for the ‘Innovation’ Category



Research Methods: A Deeper Dive Into Online Qualitative

Posted on: July 9th, 2018 by doyle

From the desk of Kathy Doyle

Over the past few years, the qualitative toolkit has vastly increased with the addition of online and mobile methods.  These additions have brought significant benefits and the ability to conduct research that was simply not possible before.

With that in mind, we thought we’d take a closer look at some of our favorite online methodologies – webcam interviews, online communities and digital chats.

Webcam Interviews

Webcam interviews are online interviews in which the participant and moderator can see each other as well as any stimuli (storyboard, video, website, etc.) utilizing webcams and a split screen.

Webcam interviews take geography out of the equation, allowing you to conduct interviews across the country in a single day. You get a close-up of participants’ facial expressions as they view the stimulus, something that is difficult to achieve in a focus group facility. This makes them ideal for web usability studies and advertising communication checks.

Online Communities

Online communities take place over time (short term or long term, ranging from two days to two weeks or longer) with respondents answering questions or reacting to stimulus posted by the moderator. They allow for anonymity, unlimited response time, and iterative or longitudinal learning. Respondents also have the ability to upload photos and video and complete homework assignments before or during the session.

Online communities are ideal for exploratory research when rich, nuanced feedback is needed. They also work well for message development or evaluation, and whenever a topic is sensitive.

One-on-One Chats

One-on-one chats function much like an instant message or text chat, but one that is led by a moderator who engages with the individual participant in real time. A great way to get beneath surface-level insights, with this technique the moderator can also share stimuli for respondent feedback.

One-on-one chats are ideal for creative and message testing and allow anonymity that also makes it well suited for discussion of sensitive topics. Furthermore, this approach can be used as a stand-alone qualitative exploration or added seamlessly to a quantitative survey, routing qualified participants from the survey instrument to a moderated chat to provide greater depth and context.

If you’d like to explore whether, or how, these methods could be used to answer your business questions, feel free to contact me at kdoyle@doyleresearch.com.

 

Where Do You Do Your Heavy Lifting?  More Muscle Up Front Means More Insightful Research on the Back End

Posted on: January 22nd, 2018 by doyle

 

From the desk of Carole Schmidt

Pop quiz! Think about the last research project you did. What proportion of your time was assigned to design, logistics/set-up, execution, analysis, and reporting?

If you’re putting anything less than 30% of your project muscle into the design stage, securing the foundation of the project, I contend that you’re likely wasting your valuable time and research dollars.

What fills that 30% proportion of time? Planning for success. We like to call this “The Wonder Session.”  This is not a project “kick-off.” This is what happens in the most successful research projects well before the kick-off.

Another meeting. We hear the groans. However, I’ve never left one of these sessions where the team didn’t have greater cohesion and increased precision about what we really wanted to accomplish in the research.  Including your research partners to hear it all makes The Wonder Session even better. The result? Thoughtful design, richer insights, and smarter business decisions.

Five essential elements comprise “The Wonder Session.” Yes, in this order:

  1. State the research objectives: What is the problem that we’re trying to solve? What is the business decision that needs to be made? What has led to this research need? Are you really seeking, e.g., appeal, perceived competition, or product distinction? Putting in time to define the problems fully and in depth makes them easier to solve, which means saving time, money and resources.
  2. Present existing research: What do we already know related to this challenge? What don’t we know enough about? What do we believe is still true? Meta-analysis of primary and secondary research saves money by utilizing existing knowledge, and clarifies research gaps. And examining previous research further defines who exactly we need to speak with, and most importantly, illustrates why their voices matter to your business in this research effort.
  3. Probe the stakeholder voice: Who are the stakeholders that matter most? What are stakeholders’ needs vs. wants? What investment, resources, and capabilities are available? There’s nothing worse than retrofitting stakeholders’ concerns after research is in the field. Allocate time to surface stakeholder agendas, note (and share!) the political watch-outs, consider the what-if’s well before the project is a “go.”
  4. Capture team members’ hypotheses: There’s no better way to refine objectives than by listening to team members’ expected results. How do they think the customer will respond? Press further–what are the optimal responses, the language and commentary that they’d love to hear? In what ways do they expect (or hope) participantswill express their needs? Make a list of hypotheses, guard it, and bring it back for the post-field analysis.
  5. Refine the research objectives and “criteria for success”: After completing the above steps, revisit the initially stated objectives with a red pen. Now, who is really the target? What do we expect to learn from those key participants? What is “need to know” vs. “nice to have?” And end The Wonder Session by defining the 3-5 elements of a successful project; what will a successful project deliver?

 Consider The Wonder Session the “breakfast” of your project–as we all know, the most important meal of the day!  Putting more muscle into the up-front, pre-field planning serves as the “protein” of the research project—it’s filling, satisfying, and provides lasting energy.  The reward? Efficient and insightful research learning that will ultimately help move your business forward.

NOW it’s time for the formal research kick-off meeting with your core team and your qualitative strategists. Go forth and prosper!

 

 

When converging after idea generation, think S.M.A.R.T.E.R.

Posted on: January 8th, 2018 by doyle

From the desk of Laura Duguid, Qualitative Researcher & Innovation Specialist

A major misstep to be wary of after idea generation is rushing the convergence process. Like ideation, effective convergence – i.e. confluence that nets truly big ideas – requires planning, a broad-to-narrow approach, and time. To prevent throwing the baby out with the bath water, think S.M.A.R.T.E.R. with these simple steps to success:

Separate from ideation: It’s important to deliberately schedule separate time for convergence after the idea generation. This will give the narrowing process equally important billing to the ideation, and allow people time to refresh their brain power and shift gears mentally.  It’s also advisable to do convergence off-site. This will cultivate a mindset of mental freedom which in turn encourages participants to carefully consider more innovative ideas.

More than once: Unique ideas are fragile and require the careful consideration achieved through multiple levels of review, including: 1) Shortly after ideation with the goal being to keep at least twice as many ideas as you intend to take into testing, 2) after the ideas are fleshed out further into written concepts, and 3) a quantitative sort with the end-user. As always, the quant should be prefaced with qualitative communication checks to refine the testing stimulus. Refrain from eliminating ideas as a result of the qualitative – let the quant be the judge.

Appropriate convergence techniques: For the first convergence, consider having people vote on ideas privately to start (e.g. via a worksheet with all the ideas listed and boxes to check pursue, don’t pursue, and comments).  The facilitator can then review and cluster the votes, keeping the results blind. This approach mitigates confining groupthink, thereby encouraging more innovative idea choices. To push the envelope further, you can give voters a wildcard choice – that is, permission to select a “crazy” idea they have heart for regardless. At stage two convergence, after ideas have been fleshed out and written up, use a more refined approach that looks at the ideas against a more meticulous set of criteria.

Right people: The first convergence stage should include all those who participated in the ideation. At this point the ideas are in a raw state and may require some nurturing to gain momentum, i.e. further clarification/explanation. Additional, relevant parties are often a useful supplement to the later, more refined convergence process. They lend an outside perspective that often helps further illuminate pluses, minuses, and notable considerations. Also, cross-functional teams at every stage assures valuable, multidimensional assessment.

Time commitment: Be sure to schedule enough time to effectively converge. Fight the urge to short-shift the process in an effort to solely accommodate participant schedules. Also, allow for periodic breaks. Convergence is hard work, and brains need relief now and then to achieve optimal performance.

Explore before elimination: At all stages of convergence, before killing an idea, ask the team, “in what ways might we revise/change/recreate this idea to make it work?” Pursue solutions because the best ideas may very well be the worst ideas, simply changed.

Retain an outside facilitator: Using an outside professional to lead convergence assures unbiased direction, and allows all team members to focus on what they do best – lend their relevant expertise. Also, an experienced facilitator can efficiently negotiate differences of opinion, and keep the process moving forward.

The lightning-fast pace of business today presents undeniable challenges to establishing prescribed pause. But to truly innovate and come out on top, wise words from Leo Tolstoy sum it up best: The two most powerful warriors are patience and time.

 

 

Want big ideas? Find your flow!

Posted on: November 6th, 2017 by doyle

From the desk of Laura Duguid

How often have you heard someone say, “I’m not creative”? Worse yet, how many times have you thought that of yourself? Society has forever defined creativity as a natural gift primarily embodied by artistic types. But science suggests otherwise.

Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi has coined a state of being called “Flow” as an important contributor to creativity, and a state anyone can achieve. It is a form of intrinsic motivation to pursue an activity (doing something because you love it) where self-consciousness is lost, one surrenders completely to the moment, and time means nothing.1 Plainly, a Flow State is when you are so involved in an endeavor that you are thoroughly absorbed and focused, losing all track of time and mental preoccupations. It is important to note that Flow pursuits are not synonymous with all leisure activities. Flow inducing pursuits need to be challenging, goal oriented, providing of feedback, and enjoyable to YOU. Watching TV or visiting with a friend are leisure activities, while Flow ventures are:

·      Physical activities like sports, dance, martial arts, etc.

·      Playing music

·      Arts and crafts

·      Gardening

·      Cooking/baking

·      Writing

·      DIY projects

·      Scrapbooking

·      And so on…

So how does Flow trigger creative thinking? Neurobiology. When in a state of Flow, brainwaves slow down and allow the uncensored blending of unrelated thoughts, thereby giving our brains a subconscious, lateral thinking workout. Flow also triggers the production of large quantities of norepinephrine, dopamine, endorphins, anandamide, and serotonin — all pleasure-inducing, performance-enhancing chemicals with considerable impacts on creativity.2 What’s more, not only are you more creative during Flow, your creativity is heightened the day after being in a Flow state, according to research done by Professor Theresa Amiable of Harvard Business School.3

Here are three practical ways to use Flow as fuel towards big ideas:

Sow n’ Flow: Jot down a problem or challenge for which you need a solution, framed using an idea starter like, “in what ways might I/we…” or “what are all the ways I/we could…”. Then set it aside and don’t think about it. Now get into your Flow. When you are deep into your Flow state, solutions to the problem/challenge seed you planted earlier are likely to emerge. When they do, quickly capture them (e.g. write them down or dictate them) – no matter how absurd – then continue in your flow. DO NOT stop and think about the ideas that surface. When you’re finished with your Flow activity, revisit the thoughts you captured (within a day or two) and use them as inspiration to address your problem or challenge.

Flow Today, Go Tomorrow: Make the conscious decision to engage in a Flow activity one day or several consecutive days before a planned brainstorming session. There’s no need to think about the subject of the brainstorming while you’re “Flowing”. Rather, the purpose of achieving a Flow state in this application is to warm-up and prepare your mind for the forthcoming creative engagement.

Flow Frequently: Keep your creative thinking skills in tip-top shape by engaging in Flow activities often. By subconsciously igniting and exercising your creative thinking ability via Flow, you’re essentially practicing being creative. And, the more you practice, the better you get!

 

1PositivePsychologyProgram.com, December 16, 2016

2, 3PsychologyToday.com, February 25, 2014

 

 

 

 

 

IIeX 2017: A Qualitative Recap

Posted on: June 21st, 2017 by doyle

iiexgeneral

Once again, I attended what I have come to consider the premiere event for MR’s who are interested in staying abreast of trends, the IIeX Conference in Atlanta.   A combination of excellent presentations as well as a very robust exhibit experience – often with vendors I have not yet seen at another conference – makes it a “must” on my annual conference list.   Here are a few of my takeaways:

  •  There is a sense that the industry has swung too far in our focus on technology at the expense of insights.   It’s not enough to have whiz bang, gee whiz technology unless it is helpful in producing strategic insight.    As one panelist stated, technology should be assisting us in freeing up our intellectual capital, so that only 20% of our time is spent on analysis, and the remaining 80% is on the storytelling.
  • Qualitative seems to be making a comeback, as the antidote to  overwhelming amounts of data that are lacking insight. As a qualitative research consultant, it is both gratifying and a very welcome trend.
  • We have reached the point where there is no longer much meaningful distinction between online research and mobile research. Even when respondents are participating using an online platform, they are highly likely to be accessing it on their smartphone.   Essentially, we have moved into an era where research has become “device agnostic”.  I heretofore resolve to refer to Doyle Research’s online and mobile capabilities as our “digital” methods.
  • The panel and recruitment segment of our industry is struggling with the fact that screeners and surveys are becoming longer and longer, sharply increasing the cost to complete a study. Some vendors are considering charging for Q’s above a certain number; others are taking the approach of refusing to accept more than a certain number of questions.   Clearly, as researchers and clients, we must question the need to ask so many questions.   Do we really think the quality of the insights is going to be improved by surveying respondents who are impatient and fatigued?
  • One thing I heard that disturbed me: some clients reported that they receive deliverables from their MR partners that they need to rewrite before issuing them.   In some cases, they have defaulted to asking only for the raw data and writing it from scratch themselves.   We cannot let that happen!   Our long-term value—the value that cannot be replaced by technology — lies in our ability to deliver insights, as well as the strategies for acting upon those insights, in a clear and compelling manner; and to engage our clients in co-creating solutions.

Once again, I left IIeX exhausted (did I mention that it took 15 hours to fly home from Atlanta to Chicago?) but inspired.    Keep up the good work Lenny and crew!   I’ll see you next year.