connections management news

February 2015
Vol. 14, Number 1

QRCA Management News
Conference News
Chapter News
Committee News
SIG News
Member News
mark sumpter
Mark Sumpter

From the President

Mark Sumpter, mark@c-linkmoderating.com

The Board of Directors met in January for our annual two day board retreat. This is perhaps one of the most important meetings as we set the strategic priorities for the coming year. We have a focused strategic plan to deliver upon our vision and mission:

QRCA Vision: The Qualitative Research Consultants Association (QRCA) provides industry-leading resources that are essential to its members and the professionals who use qualitative research.

QRCA Mission: The Qualitative Research Consultants Association is dedicated to advancing the discipline of qualitative research worldwide.

  1. STRATEGIC GOAL: ENHANCE MEMBER VALUE
    a. Expand awareness and accessibility of content
    b. Foster membership engagement
    c. Maximize benefits and offerings
  2. STRATEGIC GOAL: INCREASE THE STATURE OF QRCA
    a. Build awareness of and familiarity with QRCA
    b. Enhance and expand industry partnerships
    c. Promote excellence in qualitative research
  3. STRATEGIC GOAL: MAINTAIN A SUSTAINABLE ORGANIZATION
    a. Ensure financial stability
    b. Grow membership
    c. Create meaningful volunteer/leadership opportunities

In my first letter to you as President, I shared my priorities for the year to help us focus on key areas within our plan: strengthening membership through better member retention and new member growth; strengthening revenue with a more comprehensive sponsorship/revenue generation plan, and increasing stature via a strong Marketing Committee.

While there is much to be fleshed out, thus more to share at a later point in time, here are several key items that will help the organization succeed:

  • The Board has created a “Chapter Success Task Force” to ensure our chapters are strong and successful. Chapters provide a critical component to member value through educational and networking opportunities.
  • The Board approved a pilot Annual Sponsorship Program, as recommended by the Sponsorship Committee, that broadens QRCA revenue generation opportunities beyond Marketplace participants at our Annual Conference.
  • The Board approved Julie Medalis and Diane Harris as the Marketing Committee’s Chair and Co-Chair, respectively. We are excited to see what these two incredible leaders will accomplish over the coming months.

These are but a few of the actions put into place to help strengthen our wonderful organization. I encourage you to review Jay’s “Action from the Board” to see other things going on for QRCA.

As always, the Board and I want to hear from you on the Forum, or by direct contact to Shannon or me. Thanks to all who actively share your thoughts and passion to make QRCA stronger; I look forward to hearing from more of you!

In your service,
Mark

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jay zaltzman
Jay Zaltzman

Action! From the Board

Jay Zaltzman, QRCA Secretary, jay@bureauwest.com

A lot has happened since my last Action from the Board column, since we had our in-person strategy meeting on January 10 and 11 in Atlanta. Turns out, it’s not a boondoggle – they expect us to work! And we did get a lot accomplished. Here are some of the highlights:

  • We agreed to continue working toward the QRCA strategic plan that was approved in 2014 by strengthening membership, maintaining a sustainable organization and increasing the stature of QRCA.
  • We recognize that chapters are a very important part of members’ experience of the QRCA. Therefore, we are going to create a Chapter Success Task Force to find ways for all chapters to be successful and provide members with maximum value.
  • We approved Julie Medalis as the Marketing Committee chair and Diane Harris as vice chair. We also approved Laurie Bredenfoerder as the new editor-in-chief of Connections. We appreciate their willingness to serve our association. Thanks!
  • We approved a vote to be held in February on a bylaws change as recommended by the Membership Expansion Task Force.
  • We also approved the 2015 annual budget. And on that topic, we looked at various ways to lower expenses and increase income in order to keep our treasury healthy! We approved a pilot annual sponsorship program recommended by the Sponsorship Committee, creating additional revenue opportunities. And we created a work group to investigate ways to optimize our use of hotel space and audio visual equipment at our annual conferences in order to save on costs.

Of course, there was a lot more, but those are the highlights. Oh, and the Board wished me a happy birthday, since my birthday fell on January 11, the second day of our meeting. I spent my birthday with a great group of people!

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daniel berkal
Daniel Berkal

Getting to Know Your Board

Daniel Berkal, Daniel.berkal@thepalmerstongroup.com

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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