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Why I Never Miss a QRCA Conference

Posted By Jeff Walkowski, Thursday, January 10, 2019
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2019
QRCA 2018 Conference Attendees

I’ve missed only one QRCA conference. since I joined the organization in 1996. Since 1998, I’ve attended every annual conference. 2019 in Savannah will be no exception.

So why do I keep on going year after year after year?

I’m a big believer in professional development. I believe in the concept of education being a never-ending process — a lifelong endeavor.

Before I became an independent QRC, I had worked for a large corporate marketing research supplier that firmly espoused the idea of continuing education. I was encouraged and paid to attend relevant conferences and other educational events each year. When I went independent, I wanted to continue that tradition, and I was easily able to do so through QRCA.

Attending the QRCA conference is like getting a flu shot every year. Immersion in the conference experience (even as a passive listener) offers a form of protection. It reminds me of things I already know (but can easily forget), it allows me to learn about new techniques, and it exposes me to what’s looming on the horizon. And of course, the conference allows me to hob-nob (in-person!) with my peers — whether they are independents like me or are part of larger firms. That protective “shot” eventually wears off, so I make sure I get inoculated again by returning the next year.

In my early conference-going years, I studied the program diligently to evaluate whether it was worth my while … whether I’d get anything out of attending that year’s conference. The listed program never came up short, so I always attended.

Over the years, I stopped worrying about the program content, because I knew deep in my bones that I would come away with at least one new valuable insight about myself and my practice, or that I’d get a spark to pursue something that I’d never thought of before. It happens at every conference. The expense of attending has always been outweighed by what I returned home with.

It’s a never-ending process. The learnings from a conference will enable me to climb a rung (or two!), but once I’ve reached that rung, another one always comes into sight. So I am compelled to attend again and again and again.

I also look at QRCA conference attendance as a reward to stay in the profession. Sure, some years are better than others. And in those down years, it seems like it may be an unaffordable luxury to attend. But even in those down years, I always find others in the same boat as me at the conference, and we support each other emotionally to carry on and continue.

So, until I retire, I see myself attending every QRCA conference. For the inspiration. For the camaraderie. For helping me to be the best QRC I can be.

Jeff Walkowski

By: Jeff Walkowski

Jeff Walkowski is the principal of QualCore.com Inc., a consulting firm providing traditional and online qualitative research services to a wide range of industries including health care, financial services, automotive, and information services. He was schooled as a quantitative specialist and entered the industry in the 1980s as a statistician. He later discovered his talents as a moderator and evolved into a qualitative specialist by the mid-1990s.

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jeff-walkowski-7042551/

Web: www.QualCore.com, www.OnlineModerator.com

Sign up today for the 2019 QRCA conference.

Tags:  QRCA Annual Conference  Qualitative Conference  Qualitative Research 

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Applying the Design Thinking Process in Qualitative Research

Posted By Joe Sharlip, Tuesday, January 8, 2019
Updated: Thursday, January 10, 2019
Untitled Document applying design

Design Thinking (DT) is a methodology that provides a solution-based approach to solving problems. It’s extremely useful in tackling complex problems that are ill-defined or unknown. This is accomplished by understanding the human needs involved, re-framing the problem in human-centric ways, creating multiple ideas in brainstorming sessions, and adopting a hands-on approach in prototyping and testing.

The DT mindset is a natural fit with qualitative research. As Qualitative Researchers (QRs), we are experts at delivering customer experience-based insights. As a sister discipline, DT grapples with the conundrum of how to inspire design, stirring the pot enough to generate fresh new approaches. When QRs integrate DT processes into qualitative research, we reach whole new levels of insight generation.

As a way of educating researchers on DT methodology – and its correlation to qualitative research – it’s helpful to focus on the five-stage Design Thinking model proposed by the Hasso-Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford University.

Stage One: Empathize
In this phase  the DT process aims to gain an empathic understanding of the issue or problem at hand. Empathy is crucial to a human-centered design process, and empathy allows design thinkers to set aside their own assumptions about the world in order to gain insight into consumer-users and their needs.

Stage Two: Define
Now you can put together the information you have created and gathered during the empathize stage. You will analyze your observations and synthesize them in order to define the core problems or issues you and your team have identified to this point – stated in a problem statement that is human-centered in nature.

Stage Three: Ideation
Now designers are ready to start generating ideas. You’ve grown to understand your users and their needs, and you’ve analyzed and synthesized your information to end up with a human-centered problem statement. With this solid background, you can start to ‘think outside the box’ to identify new solutions to the problem statement you’ve created, and you can start to look for alternative ways of viewing the problem.

Stage Four: Prototype
We are now in position to produce a number of inexpensive, scaled down versions of the product or specific features found within the product, so we can investigate the problem solutions generated in the previous stage. Prototypes may be shared and tested within the team itself, in other departments, or on a small group of people outside the design team.

applying designStage Five: Testing
Designers or evaluators are now able to rigorously try out the complete product using the best solutions identified during the prototyping phase. This is the final stage of the five stage-model, but it is also an iterative process where the results generated during the testing phase are often used to redefine one or more problems and inform the understanding of the users, conditions of use, how people think, behave, and feel. In this phase, alterations and refinements can be made in order to rule out impractical problem solutions and deepen our understanding of the product and its users.


Essentially, qualitative research – as DT – is dedicated to a core principal referred to as ‘Stretching.’ Successful facilitation of stretching reaches deep beneath the surface with participants, encourages each of us to become an observer, and challenges the thinking of client-observers. There are a number of powerful benefits stretching can bring to qualitative research and the insights it can reveal:

  • Helping to support and foster creative potential within each person, honoring the leader and the learner in each individual.
  • Bringing disparate voices and teams together, trying out all perspectives and viewpoints.
  • Remaining curious and empathic about stories.
  • Embracing inspiration and ‘gut feelings’ as an equal partner to analytical thinking.
  • Opening doors to creatively imagining ideas, then pulling out all the stops in the search for new views, drawing on limitless possibilities.
  • Not being afraid to fail, and, with this in mind, constantly experimenting in courageous, resourceful, and optimistic ways.

As QR practitioners we must endeavor to be more thoughtful and deliberate about how we embrace the process of exploration. Insight and empathy are critical elements of both qualitative research and DT. The intention of both is to integrate visceral or empathic connections into the process of observing, exploring, coming up with new views, and then taking that next step into designing solutions. The goal is to trigger the imaginations of all involved.  To do this, we can introduce an additional step into the qualitative phases of research in which we engage respondents in the process of designing prototypes, product ideation, or even strategic development.” We can infuse DT tools all the way through our work. The process is iterative, flexible and focused on collaboration between designers and users  with an emphasis on bringing ideas to life based on how real users think, feel and behave. Now, doesn’t this thought capture the essence of what qualitative research is all about?

Sources:
QRCA Views Magazine: Spring 2016 - Toolbox - Villanueva & Koronet - Design Thinking Tools for Qualitative Researchers

Interactive Design Foundation – Article By Rikke Dam and Teo Siang
https://www.interaction-design.org/literature/article/5-stages-in-the-design-thinking-process


joe sharlip

Joe Sharlip, QRCA Brand Manager
Joe has served in corporate, agency and consulting roles as Director of Marketing and Research, Branding Strategist and Account Planning Director for companies like American Electric Power, Pan American, and Bates Worldwide. He was recognized with a Gold EFFIE, and holds a MBA in Marketing from the University of Connecticut.  You can reach Joe on LinkedIn.


Tags:  design thinking  qualitative research 

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The AQR/QRCA Worldwide Conference: Experiences & Learnings from a First-Timer

Posted By Shannon Danzy, danzy consults., Tuesday, June 19, 2018

This post was written by Jessica Fennell, a 2018 QRCA Young Professionals Grant recipient. Jessica works at Northstar Research Partners. First launched in 2014, the Young Professionals Grant recognizes promising qualitative researchers aged 35 and younger with free passes to the QRCA’s Annual Conference. The application deadline to attend January’s 2019 QRCA Annual Conference: Charting Your Best Course in Savannah, GA is September 24. Visit qrca.org/YPG to learn more.

As a lucky recipient of the QRCA’s Young Professionals Grant, I was extremely pleased to hear that the theme for this year’s Worldwide Conference was ‘Stay Curious’. This topic felt like it had a wide scope and, for me personally, harked back to the reason I first entered qualitative research — pure curiosity about people.

What to Expect

This was also my first international conference and I flew to Spain with a very open mindset on what I would discover over two-and-a-half jam-packed days. So, what can you expect when you attend your first AQR/QRCA Worldwide Conference?

Collaboration and Open Dialogues
One thing that immediately struck me about the Worldwide Conference was the level of collaboration among attendees. This was the first conference I had been to that specifically focused on agency-side researchers attending rather than clients. Perhaps it was this, coupled with an excellent structure (which allowed for ample opportunities to meet other attendees), that fostered a general culture of openness. I found myself networking with a whole range of practitioners, sharing our experiences on how we design our projects and swapping inspiration.

Networking Made Easy
Ah, networking! I will freely admit that walking into a roomful of 100 complete strangers with the aim of making contacts is not something that has ever filled me with joy. However, as a first-timer, the reception I was given by AQR and QRCA made it easy to start conversations. For other conference first-timers, I would highly recommend stepping off the networking cliff and just giving it a go. Bring stacks of business cards and be prepared to start sharing your ideas and research practices with others. Do so and you’ll get so much back in return.

The Findings

But what about the presentations themselves? They provided a myriad of different interpretations of the conference theme ‘Stay Curious’. Standout presentations came from qual-at-scale platform Remesh and Acacia Avenue (both of which won the Sabena McLean Best Presentation Award). The speakers demonstrated a variety of approaches to the topic. These ranged from practical tips which I could see being implemented in my own research straight away, to more thought-provoking ideas and concepts.

Here are some of the standout ideas for me:

Borrowing from Surrounding Disciplines
Some of the most thought-provoking research ideas and approaches were borrowed from different disciplines. This is particularly true with regards to the communication and presentation of research ideas. Relish Research shared inspiring and practical tips about the principles of Method Acting. The technique, used by actors as diverse as Daniel Day-Lewis to James Dean, relies on the practitioner ‘becoming’ a character and completely immersing themselves in their emotions. Relish showed how adapting this method for research purposes could be used to bring clients closer to their audiences. First by setting clients a brief with the characteristics and practical limitations of their audience (budget, childcare etc.), they could be briefed to do anything from role play scenarios in workshops or shopping as their customer. The real benefit of this approach is that your clients can discover their own insights by becoming their target customer.

Prioritise Culture
Alex Gordon from Sign Salad called for cultural understanding to hold a more central role in research. To borrow the words of the writer Toni Morrison, the job of a culture expert is: “to familiarize the strange and mystify the familiar." Culturally driven brand thinking allows researchers to identify and interpret where it will sit in the changing cultural future. Gordon highlighted Grant McCracken’s book, Chief Culture Officer, which calls for big organisations to create a position for a "person who knows culture, both its fads and fashions, and its deep, enduring structures."

Roben Allong at Lightbeam Communications highlighted how cultural bias or blindness towards questions of identity and culture need to be addressed by researchers as a matter of urgency. Cases like H&M’s Monkey sweatshirt PR disaster show how cultural blindness can have serious implications for both brand trust and profits. As researchers, we should always be considering the context and background of our interactions and analysis. For example, in the increasingly important new language of emojis, the Princess icon has a completely different meaning to African American women vs. Caucasian women. This is important because it is a qualitative researcher’s task to gain an intimate understanding of the target audience’s culture and language trends. Becoming culturally literate is of vital importance if we are to truly help our clients.

Thinking Critically about Your Biases
The age-old problem of avoiding bias in our fieldwork through the ‘research effect’ is still prevalent. In South Africa, Lesley Croskery of In Focus Qualitative Research talked about the potential negative implications of observing or moderating as a white researcher in black households. She advised being constantly aware of the effect your presence has on fieldwork. This could be as simple as minimising the number of observing clients to properly managing expectations about the research with participants. There are also extra considerations in a bilingual country like South Africa. Appraise not just whether conducting fieldwork in English will make research easier but whether moderating in the language they use at home would make participants feel more comfortable and open to discussion.

Both in the structure of the conference and the range of topics covered, my experience in Valencia truly embodied the topic of Stay Curious. Come with an open mind and prepared to be inspired!

Visit qrca.org/YPG to learn more about the Young Professionals Grant.

Tags:  AQR  QRCA  qualitative research  Worldwide Conference on Qualitative Research 

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Can your business pass the “unplugged” challenge?

Posted By María Rosa Puras, Insights Marketing Touch, Tuesday, May 15, 2018
Survey Blog Post

Years ago, many of us enjoyed listening to “unplugged” music events or recordings. But could we do the same with the technology that is a part of our daily lives and businesses? How long could you live in an “unplugged” society, for instance, without wireless and wired communications/data services and electricity? Is your business prepared to be “unplugged”? To gain a global perspective, fill out the following short survey by Thursday, May 17th 21:00 (Spain Time) and you could win the grand prize of a premium Puerto Rican coffee.

I will be honest and say that I never thought of this question before two of nature’s ladies visited our island paradise and gave us the experience of “unplugged” living. On Friday, I will be sharing our experience from a qualitative perspective including insights from other QRCs, recruiters, facilities and marketing business firms in Puerto Rico.  

Here is the link to the survey https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/UnpluggedQual

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5 ½ Reasons Why I’m Addicted to the Worldwide Conference on Qualitative Research

Posted By Susan Abbott, ARC Strategy Ltd / Think Global Qualitative, Monday, March 26, 2018

Valencia will be my 4th Worldwide Conference — I was strong-armed to apply to speak at the Prague conference, the start of my habit. After Budapest, I was a card-carrying member of the fan club. I began to actively recruit new addicts as co-chair of Vienna in 2016. It’s an escalating condition, as you can see. I’ll be feeding my addiction to great ideas, as well as great coffee, in Valencia. Here’s why.

1. Fantastic networking

I’ve met great people at every event, and heard people speak that I have never heard speak before, and from all over the world. Speakers have to have a strong idea to make it onto the program – there are always too many applications for a limited number of spots. It always feels like the best and brightest to me, and a treat to be among them.

2. Reconnecting

Once you start going to global conferences, you will grow your global network. Eventually, you will know these people well enough that you really want to break bread with them from time to time. This conference has lots of talk time, and is a great place for connecting and reconnecting. Hence the addictive factor I mentioned, but I am a happy addict.

3. No-pitch environment

The speakers really dish up their best stuff from a posture of sharing, contributing, and mutual learning. Do they simultaneously build their brand? No doubt about it. But I have found this event to be educational with no lingering sales aftertaste, and I love that.

4. From stretch ideas to utter bafflement

I am still thinking about a presentation about collective culture in India that I heard at least five years ago. At the same conference, there was a semiotics session about clouds that totally went over my head. I’m not kidding, I still know nothing about the semiotics of clouds. I’m hoping to fare better with the semiotics of toy soldiers from the same speaker this year. The speakers have always given me ample brain food, and I love that.

5. Collective experience

Conversations at this event never start with “what session did you attend” because this is all plenary. Instead, you can walk up to people at the next table and dive right in, knowing they heard the same thing you did. Or maybe they didn’t… And therein is the start of a great conversation.

5 ½ Cava

There will be cava. And I’ll be enjoying it along with smart people I don’t get to see very often. Maybe you’ll be one them. Cheers!

The photo was taken of the author and Ilka Kuhagen at a previous Worldwide Conference.

Tags:  #WWQual  qualitative research  Valencia  Worldwide Conference on Qualitative Research 

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QRCA’s Elevate & Cultivate: The Experience & The Learnings

Posted By Amye Parker, Northstar Research Partners, Friday, February 9, 2018

Amye Parker is a 2018 QRCA Young Professionals Grant recipient. First launched in 2014, the Young Professionals Grant recognizes promising qualitative researchers aged 35 and younger with free passes to the QRCA’s Annual Conference.

Upon receiving the news that I was one of 15 people to receive a Young Professionals Grant from the QRCA to attend the annual conference ‘Elevate & Cultivate’ I was immediately excited — because I never win anything! However, the qualitative researcher inside me began to ask questions:

  • How should I prepare for Elevate & Cultivate?
  • What would the conference involve?
  • How would I avoid awkward networking situations?
  • What would I learn? 

Preparing for Elevate & Cultivate
Every first-timer gets paired with a seasoned conference goer who helps prepare for the conference. I quickly received an email introducing me to my ‘ambassador’, Kate Wagenlander Watson. She sent me lots of tips, answered all my questions, and even met me at 8 am on the first day of the conference. Kate was genuinely invested in making sure I had a good time.

The Conference
The conference contained the perfect balance of big-thinking seminars, participatory round-table discussions, and practical frameworks with highly applicable tips. The biggest surprise I had was how collaborative everyone was. Despite theoretically being competitors, everyone was forthcoming in offering advice and best practices.

Avoiding Awkward Networking
Everyone at the conference was welcoming and several social events also helped me meet others. A ‘speed dating’ session for all 55 First-Timers and their ambassadors was a great way to connect with people quickly. The dinner sponsored by the YP SIG attracted 30+ young researchers, resulting in fun times with great people. I left Phoenix with new friends, and renewed excitement about research.

The Learnings
The conference gave me a lot of inspiring thoughts and practical tips that I could apply right away. Here are six key things that stood out to me from Elevate & Cultivate:

  • Recruit Via Social Media

Recruiting high-quality research participants is becoming harder due to overly targeted criteria and professional participants. Tony Gentes of The Palmerston Group demonstrated the value of using social media outlets like Instagram, Meetup.com and Tinder. Using these outlets, recruitment is based on behavioural data and participants are less saturated with research.

  • Tri-angulate Insight Streams

Our research doesn’t exist in a vacuum, and our clients are inundated with information. Tamara Kenworthy of On Point Strategies showed the value of using secondary and quant data to complement qual in designing buyer personas. The Qually Award finalists also included expert insight in their proposals to complement consumer findings. By looking beyond our own primary research, we gain a holistic view, and can thus provide more strategic and nuanced insight.

  • Leverage Behavioural Economics Frameworks

A well-planned methodology is critical but insights can fall flat without the right questions. Lauren McCrae of Lux Insights shared a case study on using the COM-B framework to generate hypotheses and research questions. Behavioural Economic approaches can even be used in client workshops and ideation sessions. These frameworks offer great value in unpacking the sub-conscious drivers of behaviour and can help us understand the barriers

  • Lose Yourself in Moderation

We hear from people how ‘easy’ moderation seems, but anyone who’s in the job knows better. Naomi Henderson of RIVA Market Research engaged us in a highly relatable keynote speech on this topic, revisiting fundamentals and sharing encouraging (and hilarious) anecdotes. The power of System 1 thinking was another hot topic, and there were many sessions on projective methods offering case studies on activities like personification, deprivation and visual sorting exercises.

  • Create Experiences, Not Projects

In our overly-stimulated, attention-starved society, we are researchers and entertainers. Qually Award winners Lauren McCrae and Nicole Aleong of Lux Insights stood out by injecting videos and personality into their pitch. Daniel Berkal of The Palmerston Group inspired us to look beyond our industry for inspiration to elevate our research. For example, could we emulate the high-energy fun experienced at amusement parks? Crafting research that people want to be part of allows participants to open up, researchers to gain richer insight, and clients to be more engaged in the research.

  • Socialising Insight & Delivering Compelling Results

Clients are time-strapped and attention-poor. Therefore, our research needs to work hard to find longevity. Jennifer Spainhour and Martha Gordon led a heavily attended session on analysis and report writing hacks full of practical tips. In his masterclass, Berkal advised on the importance of keeping output top-of-mind throughout research design to ensure you deliver compelling insights. As a socialising tool, video cannot be under-estimated – it’s quick, visual and immersive, which drives results more deeply into our clients’ minds.

Visit qrca.org/YPG to learn more about the Young Professionals Grant.

Tags:  QRCA Annual Conference  QRCA Young Professional Grant  qualitative research 

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Change is the New Normal: Insights from the 2018 QRCA Conference

Posted By Kathleen Doyle, Doyle Research Associates, Inc, Thursday, February 8, 2018

If you are a qualitative researcher and have not attended a QRCA Conference, you owe it to yourself to add it to your list. QRCA members are hands-down the most generous, forward-thinking and collegial people you will ever meet, and the conference itself is unlike any other.

As usual, this year’s conference was full of educational and inspirational sessions, great exhibitors, and some excellent and thought-provoking roundtable discussions.

Here is a recap of my key takeaways:

  1. Social media and AI technology are rapidly becoming the next generation tool for qualitative recruiting and data collection. Shapiro & Raj discussed their social adaptive recruiting, which accesses forums, online communities, and public social networks to “find the hard-to-find”; and Tory Gentes discussed some decidedly non-traditional techniques for using tools in our socially connected world (some sites this Boomer had never heard of before!) as a means to find quality recruits.
  2. Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) are poised to explode as a qualitative tool. David Bauer, of Hemisphere Insights, led a great session on this topic. As home VR equipment becomes ubiquitous, and programming costs are reduced, the ability to create more engaging experiences will become a reality. Use VR/AR to test concepts in-home; to simulate an in-store shopping experience; to create truly engaging virtual ethnography; to facilitate co-creation; and to allow stakeholders to understand the customer experience in a way not possible before.
  3. The traditional qualitative report is slowly but surely going the way of the dinosaur. The momentum continues to grow for shorter, more visual, non-traditional reports that tell a story that can persuade and influence decision making. While PPT is still most common, reports may also take the form of podcasts, photo books, full video reports, magazine reports, talk shows, or any number of other creative deliverables.
  4. The line between qualitative and quantitative is continuing to blur. Any survey can now be combined with qualitative feedback via video open-ends or qualitative “pull outs” — where a select number of respondents (based on their survey responses) are asked to participate in follow up qualitative interviews, to expand upon the learning from the survey and address the “why’s” behind their responses. Where once qualitative and quantitative were distinctly different beasts, hybrid projects are becoming increasingly common.

It’s an exciting time to be in the market research industry. Hold on, and enjoy the ride!

“This is a new year. A new beginning. And things will change.”

― Taylor Swift

“The pace of change and the threat of disruption creates tremendous opportunities…”

― Steve Case

Sign up today for the 2019 QRCA conference.

Tags:  conference recap  QRCA  QRCA Annual Conference  qualitative market research  qualitative research 

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A First-Timer's Perspective: QRCA Annual Conference

Posted By Leigh Wright, Bad Babysitter Productions, Thursday, February 8, 2018

Leigh Wright is a 2018 QRCA Young Professionals Grant recipient. First launched in 2014, the Young Professionals Grant recognizes promising qualitative researchers aged 35 and younger with free passes to the QRCA’s Annual Conference.

“Funny thing is, we have no social lives,” said a lady at my lunch table. Everyone laughed heartily, but I did only slightly. I am emerging into the qualitative field and as a research consultant. I’ve worked as a Director of Brand Strategy for six years, building internal marketing departments, looking through ad stacks, etc. The QRCA 2018 annual conference was one of the best — if not the best — places for an introduction.

All conferences are about teaching and education and professional accolades and training. QRCA is different because attendees come for the people and education is lagniappe (New Orleans’ slang for “an extra little gift”) or to support their peers’ work. As consultants, we do not get out and about to see one another during the year, so the QRCA holds a dedicated, sacred spot on the calendars of many.

Needless to say, I arrived in Phoenix with little knowledge of the QRCA, its benefits, the people, or the structure of the conference. To say I am blown away by the supportive structure of the community is an understatement.

From a beginner’s standpoint I found the talks from Naomi Henderson, Susan Abbott, Marta Villanueva, et al., all very enlightening and critical to understanding where I will find my niche in this industry. There were a lot of moderating tools discussed and quite frankly the point of creative flashcards was hammered home. Tory Gentes’ presentation on online recruiting was spot on. I’ve only done bespoke recruitment and have used online platforms to do so. (You would be surprised at how many preschool teachers are part-time babysitters through Care.com.)

The sessions I found the most insightful were about client presentation, online recruiting, business development, and behavioral economics. This is partly because I have done little moderating, but I believe presenting a variety of sessions is impactful. As Jim Bryson said one day during the conference, “It’s not ‘do we need another moderator.’ We need another good researcher.” So, let’s stick with the holistic approach. I believe it is working.

The roundtable discussions were fantastic and I enjoyed Peter Totman’s talk on Failure. There were so many going on at once and I did find it hard to choose which to attend.

In terms of the Young Professionals Grant, I am forever indebted to the sponsors of this program. Without them I would not have known about the QRCA, I would not have attended this year’s conference, and I would not have met the other YPs who I now consider friends. I will consider that week in Phoenix as a career milestone and springboard.

I’m sure others have tried to convey what makes QRCA special, and my words will fall short just like all the rest. The only thing left to say is thank you, and see you in Savannah.

Visit qrca.org/YPG to learn more about the Young Professionals Grant.

Tags:  QRCA Annual Conference  QRCA Young Professional Grant  qualitative research 

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Confessions of a GenX Researcher: Insights from the 2018 QRCA Annual Conference

Posted By Meredith Morino, Sklar Wilton & Associates, Wednesday, January 31, 2018
Untitled Document

Cat’s out of the bag! I guess I can no longer pretend to be a Millennial. 

I’m just back from the 2018 QRCA annual conference (Qualitative Research Consultants Association) and I’m feeling inspired but also humbled with a touch of GenX insecurity.

This was my fifth conference — yet I’ve never felt this way before. Five years ago, the majority of attendees seemed like seasoned veterans and you could count the number of individuals under 35 years of age on two hands. This year, perhaps due to a great initiative from the QRCA to include young people via the Young Professionals Grant, there were many younger people (aka Millennials) in attendance. Their youthful presence was exciting and also a reassurance that our profession will continue to grow and thrive.

However, part way through the conference, it dawned on me that I was the middle child. I was sandwiched between two great generations each making a significant mark on the qualitative research practice. Two fantastic speakers best brought this to life: Naomi Henderson is a qualitative guru who has practiced research since 1964, and Tory Gentes is an experiential researcher sure to become legendary in her own time.

Naomi Henderson is an impressive bundle of energy and one of the greatest teachers of qualitative research. In fact, as a founder of RIVA, it’s possible she taught half of the people in attendance. The keynote speaker, Naomi presented on Moderating Effectively to Elicit, Identify and Report Meaningful Insights. She shared the skills of what it takes to be an effective moderator and, trust me, there are many. Pearls of wisdom like SQLA (Short Questions yield Long Answers), tips for avoiding leading stem questions, mirror your participants for the desired response, and don’t analyze while moderating. I was in awe of her wealth of knowledge and her ability to deconstruct her experiences in order to help elevate all of our skills as researchers.

The title of Tory Gentes' presentation, 10 Tinder Dates in a Week? In a World of Social, Who Needs Traditional Recruiting Methods?, really illustrated how our practice is evolving. Tory, an Immersive Ethnographer at The Palmerston Group, is smart, vibrant, and courageous! She inspired me to think about using social media tools to help with/supplement recruiting or just to learn about your target audience before you interview them. Tory took us through a series of case studies where she used tools like Tinder, Couchsurfing, Meetup, and Uber to find and research her participants and their environments. I was impressed by her ingenuity and the authenticity of this approach. I also learned there’s a whole world beyond Instagram and Facebook and felt like I needed to dive back into social media and see what else had popped up since last I checked.

Two generations: A pioneer and a trailblazer. One practicing longer than the other’s age. One representing the classic method our practice stems from and the other evolving it for the future. I’m squeezed by greatness on both sides, swinging between both worlds. On the bright side, I’m lucky to be learning from both. It’s an exciting time for qualitative research!

Tags:  Naomi Henderson  QRCA Annual Conference  qualitative research  Tory Gentes 

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"Numbers and Narratives" Build a Bridge, Fill in the Blanks

Posted By Laurie Pumper, Tuesday, December 19, 2017

The following post was written by Alice Greene of Campos, Inc. Alice is one of our speakers at the 2018 QRCA Annual Conference in Phoenix, Jan. 24-26; her presentation is titled, Using Data Visualization to Overcome the Customer Experience (CX) Memory Barrier. Alice's presentation is just one of many reasons to attend the conference! Register now: http://bit.ly/QRCA2018

As consumers, employees, students, and Fitbit-wearing human beings, we are being provided with more and more information every day about ourselves and how we benchmark against others—seemingly to no avail. We all know why: Data alone is never enough. But I have been obsessing about how data, in combination with an individual’s own interpretation of, or story about, that data, has the potential to unlock significant personal growth and societal change.

Let’s take the state of education in the United States, which continues to decline despite measurement of every kind. These days, there is particular panic about kids needing to develop the hard skills that will be needed to prepare them for the jobs and technology of the future, as well as the soft skills, like problem solving and leadership, that often depend on self-awareness and confidence.

A friend of mine who is a local elementary school principal sees a solution to these challenges in not only sharing students’ data with them, but in asking them to explain it, also. Knowing that students often learn best when they can relate a topic to their own experiences (known as constructivist learning theory), what kind of self-actualization could come from learning about themselves by relating their own data to their experiences? Rather than sharing discrete data points with students—test scores, attendance and awards numbers, detention and extra-curricular engagement statistics—what if we present these data back to students in a visual, time-series format and asked them to describe their journeys? How would they tell their story, and what could we learn that the data simply can’t say? What was happening at home, for example, or with friends, with teachers, with their health? Imagine if we could aggregate that unstructured data into actionable, system-wide insights—with benchmarks!

Consider the case of one boy (we'll call him Danny) at my friend's school, whose data was showing fantastic performance in his words-per-minute reading score. It wasn't until reviewing Danny's results with him that she learned he was developing a speech impediment–which was bad for Danny and producing a misleading measurement. In a powerful testament to asking kids about their view of benchmarks, as well, Danny was shown different types of stuttering and immediately identified his own. He covers his stuttering by avoiding the "Sh" sound, which he can say correctly, but it makes him anxious. He was able to articulate all of this which, the principal noted, was "pretty amazing." She added: "He is now enrolled in speech and his reading is much better." 

So, we all know that data can’t tell us everything we need, but we don’t all appreciate how it can be used to trigger memories or sharing that can, in collaboration with the person whom the data represents, fill in a much more complete story.

This idea of “numbers and narratives” holds equivalent power in the healthcare arena. What happens when we show patients a visualization of all their touchpoints with doctors, pharmacists, and facilities over the past ten years? What will they remember? How will they fill in the blanks? And how can these insights start to solve some of the biggest challenges facing healthcare today?



Tags:  customer experience  data visualization  QRCA Annual Conference 

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