Getting to Know Your Board
Daniel Berkal, firstname.lastname@example.org
Several years ago, there was a desire to build a programme of recognition for the best in our industry. A call was put out for examples of leading work that stressed excellence in methodology, execution, and results. The Qually Award was instituted in order to recognize outstanding achievement in the industry, while also validating QRCA’s position as the torch-bearer and champion for world-class Qualitative market research.
This scheme was not universally successful.
The structure of the Qually setup created an uneven playing field for practitioners. In practice, we each have different elements of the business where we excel. The nature of our client portfolios varies greatly. Whereas some of us have clients who constantly seek out new approaches, others have partners who are incredibly comfortable with the results shown by trusted and proven methodologies. Some clients have been effectively selling the same soap for years, while others have to make a blast selling fireworks. The difference between how we each run our businesses can literally be the difference between apples and oranges.
There were even more complications with this award programme. Because the Qually Award was based on work that had been completed in the previous year, participation was contingent on client approval. Confidentiality concerns and approval delays led to a large number of potential entries being stuck in red tape.
What was intended to be an inclusive call-to-action for the entire qualitative industry ended up appealing to a select few. The lack of widespread involvement created a conundrum for valiant PR efforts.
Eventually, the entire schedule was postponed.
It wasn’t that there was a lack of interest in the programme, or that there was no use for this award — rather, it was that equal participation became so difficult. And as some members were constrained from entering due to confidentiality concerns, the award lacked relevance and so did not meet its purpose.
Why is this rant a part of “Getting To Know Your Board”?
I’m well aware of how valuable the Qually can be. In 2011, I was honored to receive the award at a QRCA Symposium in Chicago. Since then, it has occupied an extremely prized place both in my heart and on my mantle. Clients recognize the achievement, peers respect it, and it has undoubtedly brought a massive amount of new business in this direction. The value has not only been external in nature. It’s been a source of internal validation and has helped build my undying sense of optimism that anything truly is possible. It’s not hyperbole to say that the Qually has had an impact on both my personal and professional life.
I’ve honestly seen this as a pinnacle personal achievement.
That’s one reason I’m particularly excited to announce that starting next year, the Qually is back — and is now entitled the “Qualitative Excellence Award Programme.” There are some really smart adaptations to the way that this accolade will be handled to create an environment that’s more inclusive, objective, and representative of the best thinking in our dynamic industry.
We had to acknowledge the fact that practitioners specialize in various areas of the business. We had to be cognizant of various breadths of experience. We had to think hard and long about how to respond to client confidentiality concerns.
The reality is that looking at past projects doesn’t truly showcase the promise of future potential.
This summer, a situation will be presented as a hypothetical RFP that will be shared with members via the QRCA website. This will include real-world issues that can be tackled from a multitude of angles. There will be guidelines and considerations that must be taken into account, but there will be no single best direction to take. Members will be given adequate time and asked to submit a response to this scenario in a manner that showcases their best thinking and best practices.
Responses will be anonymized before being presented to a well-qualified judging panel.
This design will give our members a chance to let their creativity and intellect shine. It will permit both expert and novice practitioners to compete for recognition on a level playing field. It will allow QRCs to reach outside the boundaries of their dominant area of business in a manner that stresses their skills and expertise.
Partnerships will not be required, but will be allowed, thus giving members who choose to interact in a real-world way with their colleagues an opportunity to do so with a common goal in mind.
The ten finalists chosen by the judging panel as shining examples of ‘excellence’ will remain anonymized and will be presented to the overall QRCA membership via the website in order to both showcase the submissions’ quality and creativity and provide a forum to vote on a winner.
The Qualitative Excellence Award will be handed out at the 2017 QRCA Conference in Los Angeles, California.
I’d gladly tell you about what’s up my sleeve for this month’s conference in Vienna, but I can’t…because it’s a secret.
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