connections sig news

May 2014
Vol. 13, Number 4

sig news banner

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

C+I SIG April 24 Webinar Summary: Taking Insights to Action by Tapping into Values

Ellen Koronet,

In its third webinar in a row, the Creativity + Innovation Special Interest Group (C+I SIG) brought the concepts of Creativity Facilitation and Qualitative Research to an unprecedented meeting place. The April 24 speaker, Dr. Ginger Grant, Professor and Corporate Anthropologist, spoke about the shift many have been observing in “Corporate America,” although she hinted that Westerners are way behind the curve this time. This shift is not just about technology or promotion, or even amplifying the voice of the customer or employee: it is about permeating the culture surrounding a corporate initiative, mission, or objective with emotional, value-driven content.

Ginger describes this new wave of insight-hungry strategy implementation by saying, “The customer-centricity of today's dynamic marketplace has caused a participatory shift in innovation processes. Today, employee and customer insights are equally influencing the economic viability of global and local brands.”

In Ginger’s Q&A session, she shared emerging techniques and experiences to arrive at a new understanding of how focus groups and creative problem-solving or innovation can be brought closer together through use of hands-on, story-driven activities. Ginger’s background in competitive intelligence from mergers and acquisitions drove her to delve into values and emotions permeating the culture of organizations. Using theories of Jungian psychology and cultural mythology and applying the Zeitgeist of archetypes, universal constructs, and pattern recognition, Ginger has devised a way to operationalize emotional content and insight.

Ginger’s tools include Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey map. Joseph Campbell’s theories and treatises are required reading for cultural anthropologists. He provided the underlying structure of story that can be found in every culture’s body of mythology.

As facilitator, Ginger moves herself and her opinions out of the way, allowing the participants to connect to their own stories, emotions, and underlying values in an unfiltered, safe environment. Creating a safe climate for risk taking (as described in every C+I Webinar), and initially using photo elicitation in the form of postcards carefully chosen to avoid cultural bias, Ginger engages participants in not just telling but visually mapping and showing the underlying story of habitual behavior. This is key because:

  • Telling a story based on memory brings the emotions into the moment, since the mind makes no differentiation between what was felt 50 years ago and what is felt in the present moment. 
  • Showing that story in a visual, “concretized” manner then reaches beyond the logical mind even further.

She took us through three fascinating case studies in which she views “business as an art form,” peppering the discussion with additional anecdotes along the way. 

Case Challenge #1:
A high-tech North American firm wanted to build a high-performing team in less than one month to fix an offshore manufacturing problem. The team consisted of male engineers from various foreign countries, with an age range from the mid-20s to early 60s. Even the concept of coming up with a “mission value statement” was uncomfortable at best. Clearly, the task of discussing, drafting, and attempting to reach consensus on a statement would not produce an actionable strategy. 

Instead, Ginger took the team through an exploration of core values. Using photo-elicitation, the team began to illustrate what “integrity” feels like. Each engineer then created a three-dimensional sculpture representing what he brought to the team. The resulting sculptures depicting these values were then carved into concrete blocks for installation in the floor of the foyer of the corporate headquarters. Employees now walk acrposs these stunningly illustrated values each time they enter the building. The Value Statement has been “concretized” and converted to a visual reminder of how each individual is connected to corporate goals.

Case Challenge #2:
An international energy company was seeking to improve poorly performing units. The CEO and 100 top executives had already forged a value/mission statement, but they were not seeing any buy-in or shifts in behavior. Employees further down the line had no connection with this top-down vision.

Ginger took mid-level managers through the process of creating a concretized value statement. Working in groups, they illustrated how they first experienced or learned the value of core concepts. This process was conducted at each level and unit in the organization, a process Ginger referred to as “laddering.” (Note that several QRCs pointed out that Ginger’s form of “laddering” is complementary to the qualitative technique of “laddering” internally to uncover deeper meaning.) Each group was allowed to tell their own stories and draw on their own associations. 

At the end of this process, Ginger created a PowerPoint presentation with the images that were chosen to describe the experience of each value. This operationalized the brand values and fostered “phronesis,” dialogue for the common good. In sharing stories of what employees at each level in the organization valued, they formed greater cohesion, which then drove improved performance.

Case Challenge #3:
A paramilitary organization was having difficulty with recruiting. In order to get past the non-emotive communication habits within this organization, Ginger used Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey Map to begin the discussion about what worked in the small, remote communities they were targeting. The recruiters then used Flip cameras to create videographies showing what they loved about working in these communities. She then analyzed the videos (which can be done manually or using reporting software), and compiled a platform for recruiting based on the values, challenges, and solutions that were uncovered. As a result, the organization was able to connect recruiters and recruiting strategies to their communities on a deeper level. 

(Note: for reporting software, Ginger has been using , and is now trying, which was recommended by Sharon McIntyre).

Throughout this discussion, Ginger offered techniques and suggestions, many of which are already familiar to QRCs, but often with a twist or enhancement. She closed the session with a list of recommended resources for learning more about innovation and creativity in business.

Ginger Grant, PhD, is a Founding Partner and Consultant in the Creative Intelligence Lab in Canada. She can be reached at or through her blog site:

Our heartfelt appreciation goes to Kathy Jacobs-Houk for organizing and co-hosting this inspirational webinar and to our C+I SIG committee member, Sharon McIntyre, who brought Ginger and QRCA together: Ginger has now become a member. Welcome!

About the C+I SIG

One of the excellent benefits of QRCA membership is the consistent offering of high quality, provocative webinars and sessions. The Creativity + Innovation Special Interest Group (C+I SIG) has taken this objective seriously, crafting a vision and mission statement that focuses on the “facilitation of creativity, innovation, and collaboration among our members.” 

The C+I committee members are dedicated to bringing this mission statement to life: 
Marta Villanueva, Kathy Jacobs-Houk, Ellen Koronet, Judy Bernstein, Bonnie McKee, Lauren St. George, Jonathan Bravin, Sharon McIntyre, and Elisa Dominguez.

If you would like the link to the recorded webinar, a copy of the presentation, or have questions about the C+I SIG, feel free to contact one of our C+I Co-Chairs:

Marta Villanueva –
Kathy Jacobs-Houk –

Back to Top

Ethnography SIG Program: Kids & Teens

The Ethnography SIG is pleased to announce its second program of 2014:

Kids & Teens: A Peek Into Their Lives
A presentation by Pam Goldfarb Liss

When: Thursday, May 22, 2014, at 12:00 pm EDT

Where: Qual-Meeting Platform (Thanks to our sponsor 20/20!)

Program Description: As part of the “Case Studies by Life Cycles” Series, this program will explore the best practices for using ethnography with kids and teens.

Kids and teens require great delicacy in both designing and moderating a successful ethnography. Issues involved include:

  • Understanding the unique dynamic of recruiting the articulate and able child.
  • Building trust with mom and dad that can gain greater access to, and participation from, your child participant.
  • Using modern technology such as mobile devices and web cams to go beyond traditional ethnography into fun, developmentally-appropriate kid and teen participation.

Pam Goldfarb Liss has more than 25 years of experience working with kids, teens, and their parents. She is a veteran moderator and qualitative research consultant who has worked with major Fortune 100 brands including AOL, All laundry detergent, Burger King, Bayer, Bisquick, Betty Crocker, Borden, Hasbro, Pillsbury, McDonald’s, Target, Yoplait, Wyeth (now Pfizer Consumer Care), and many others. Pam is a RIVA-trained moderator, and currently has the pleasure of training moderators in best practices with kids and teens at RIVA. She is also an avid speaker and writer on the topic of moderating with kids and teens.


For more information, please contact Isabel Aneyba ( or Antonella Fabri (, Ethnography SIG Co-Chairs.

See you on May 22!

Back to Top

New SIG Exploring the Social Media Research Landscape

Jennifer Dale,

The newly-formed Social Media Research SIG is gaining momentum and testing some promising listening tools for analyzing data pulled from social media channels. The SIG is divided into two groups, with almost two dozen Listeners taking a back-seat role, more than two dozen Worker Bees ready to rock the future, and three fearless Guides leading the Worker Bees through this exciting new jungle. Tools reviewed by the SIG up to this point have proven interesting, but of little use for extensive qualitative research (most are designed for marketing, not customizable searches and analytics). Filing that under "good to know," teams are now gearing up to take three professional excursions with more purposeful tools.

Interested in joining the exploration? No experience necessary! Willingness to brave new territory needed. Contact Kris Hodges or Jennifer Dale, SIG co-chairs, for more information.

Back to Top