connections management news

June 2015
Vol. 14, Number 5

QRCA Management News
Conference News
Chapter News
Committee News
SIG News
Member News

From the President: Getting Personal in Qualitative Research

Mark Sumpter,

One must be willing to disclose as much about him/herself as he/she wants to receive from those they are interviewing.

I wish I could remember who spoke these words at the 2014 QRCA/AQR Worldwide Conference, because I owe them a great deal of gratitude.

This quote changed the way I conduct research.

I don't like to talk about my qualitative practice or myself. But this one statement lingers in my mind every time I step into a facility, home, or office; pick up the phone; or get online to conduct an interview. This one statement made every dime I spent to attend the conference pay off.

You might wonder, "Why would Mark bring this up a year later?" Well, some rewards take time to realize, and I learned that putting this into practice strengthened my qualitative research business.  

So, how has sharing more about me with my research participants helped make me be a better researcher and business partner?

  • It demonstrated a willingness to be vulnerable, particularly when opening up about sensitive subjects, which instilled a greater sense of trust with the participants.
  • It led to a greater sense of empathy toward the participants' thoughts and feelings.

We must not forget that, no matter how we try to put participants at ease during our upfront welcome, they see us as the authority in the room.  We need to do all we can to create an atmosphere of open sharing.

Building trust and empathy by being vulnerable is generally rewarded with very honest, straightforward discussion.

It also helped me get better information for my clients and build stronger relationships with my client teams:

  • First and foremost, clients obtained deeper, more emotionally-based insights, allowing them to better connect their products or services with consumers' higher-level needs.
  • Second, through this greater connection clients gained greater understanding and empathy, making them better developers or marketers.
  • Third, I built stronger bonds with my clients. They learned things about me they might not have otherwise known and they now start sharing things about themselves simply because I have.

This deeper bond and loyalty from clients has strengthened my business.

So, that's a little about me, how I've learned to share more, and one example of the many benefits of attending a QRCA conference. While I can't guarantee you will achieve the same result, it sure can't hurt to try.

And speaking of sharing, as always, the Board and I want to hear from you. Please reach out to Shannon or me with thoughts, questions, or new ideas on this or any subject! And, don't forget about the valuable asset members have to tap into the expertise of our colleagues on the Member Forum.

In your service,

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Action! From the Board

Jay Zaltzman, QRCA Secretary,

First of all, I'd like to say "thank you" to all of you who have weighed in on the forum with ideas to reverse the decline in the number of QRCA members. There have been some great ideas, and I encourage everyone to check out the thread on the forum on our QRCA website and add their thoughts.

We are happy to announce one concrete step to reverse that decline.  We have been working with the Membership Committee on a new program to help increase the engagement of our members: the Enhanced Ambassador Program. Based on the success of the Ambassador/First-Timer program at our annual conference, the Membership Committee has developed the Enhanced Ambassador program, which will pair new members with existing QRCA members throughout the year. Sharon Laukhuff has agreed to be the Ambassador Coordinator for the program and Pascal Patenaude will be the Content Coordinator. More details will be coming soon, and please let Sharon know if you'd like to be an Ambassador. Many thanks to Sharon, Pascal, and the whole Membership Committee for your work on this program!

In other news:

  • The Young Professionals Grant was approved by the board for 2015. Monica Zinchiak will lead the YPG Grant Committee.
  • We are bringing back the QRCA Qualitative Excellence Award ("Qually Award"), which is being spearheaded by Daniel Berkal. Details to follow!

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Getting to Know Your Board

Susan Sweet,

Last month I went to camp—the kind with yurts, singing around the evening campfire, a communal bathhouse, and morning reveille.  

It was 26 women from ten different states, pulled together to reboot, recharge and have fun. We drank red wine and ate dark chocolate-covered sea-salt caramels to toast the sunset. We voluntarily awoke at sunrise to do Zumba in our pajamas. We learned to build a single-match fire and discussed the metaphors of our choices. We sat in quiet observation of nature, and later laughed uproariously while sharing stories. And we completed a high ropes course to the sounds of cheers and encouragement from our fellow campers 50 feet below.

It was an awesome experience to be with people who were open and willing to share their best ideas, and who were genuinely happy to help one another. Some of the women leaving camp were sad, but I wasn’t! I knew once I got home, I had a community where I could get and give that same kind of support: QRCA!

For me QRCA is built on the strength of the people who choose to be in it. Often, we encourage other consultants and moderators we meet to join us. “You’ll love it!” we say, “You won’t believe how much you’ll learn!” But what we sometimes forget to mention is that by joining there is instant community. If you get involved in any way, you’re immediately welcomed and pulled into the fold.

In the past year alone I’ve collaborated on multiple projects with fellow QRCA members who have become friends. One of these projects was a highlight of my professional career. I’ve passed business to QRCA pals and they’ve passed it along to me.  

We truly become better consultants, and our clients win, when QRCA collaborations happen. And they happen because we get to know each other through chapter meetings, chat rooms during SIG presentations, sitting next to each other during annual conference dine-around events, and serving on committees.

I leave the Board at the end of the summer. But I’m already thinking about how I’ll be involved next. I love being part of this community, and I’m grateful for it.  

If you haven’t taken the leap to get involved, do it. Saying yes in QRCA is easier than building a fire in a damp forest, and more fun than zip lining over a campfire.
And you’ll never regret the connections and friendships you make.

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