Getting to Know Your Board
Daniel Berkal, Daniel.firstname.lastname@example.org
I’m going to let you in on a secret.
We have the answer. We already know what the outcome is going to be.
But should that really be the case? Whatever happened to not knowing what will happen? Whatever happened to the emotional thrill of surprise?
Even with something as trivial as the Oscars. Walking in, we know that there’s absolutely no chance that Whiplash is going to win Best Picture. Is it well made? Yes. Are viewers happy with it? Yes. Will it win Best Picture? No. It’s a complete certainty. Hundreds of expert opinions and Oscar Polls have already told us what’s going to happen. But we’ll still tune in. To not be surprised. To see exactly what we expect to see and then talk about it the next morning.
There’s something wrong here.
As qualitative researchers, we go out into the world and try to explain a specific phenomenon, but we often already have all of the answers that we’re seeking to find.
We screen for them. They’re written in our discussion guides.
We know the subset of people who we are going to be searching for. We weed out those whose opinions will clearly not align with our findings.
But what if those opinions that we avoid are the ones that will really help us? What if they’ll change the events of an experience or the perception of a category?
The overwhelming amount of data available in every casual situation causes us to limit our selection to a sanitized set of pre-determined variables. What’s intended to control chaos merely becomes a faux-kryptonite against paradigm shift.
You know what to order at the restaurant because you read it on Yelp. You know exactly how it will taste and exactly how it will make you feel.
This behavior ends up diminishing the possibility of a positive surprise. You didn’t select something that’s poorly reviewed, so you’re never going to be wowed at an unexpected outcome. But you may be let down by a highly rated choice that doesn’t live up to your lofty primed expectations.
We’re setting ourselves up to be let down.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
What I really like about this year’s Board of Directors is that it really showcases a variety of independent viewpoints from all parts of the qualitative world. From primarily online to ethno-specialists. From Quebec to Africa, and from coast to coast. (Of course, as with all qual projects, Chicago is over represented.)
It’s quite literally a room full of positive surprises. We're not predictable, and we're not all the same. But what you get is strong argumentative opinions and smart dialog. All working together to build this organization that we all love.
It's already starting out with a renewed loud and vibrant push for membership and increased focus on chapters, an element that is at the heart of our organization. I’m thrilled to be a part of this Board, and look forward to a spectacular year.
Stay tuned. It's not every day you get the chance to explore something you didn't expect.
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