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Annual Conference Reporter on the Scene: Superqualitative! Using Your Skills Beyond Marketing Research

Posted By Janet Standen, Thursday, April 18, 2019
Updated: Wednesday, April 3, 2019
Annual Conference Reporter on the Scene: Superqualitative! Using Your Skills Beyond Marketing Research

SuperQualitative!

Foster Winter, who is Managing Director of Sigma Research Management Group presented stimulating ideas for opportunities to leverage typical qualitative skills into new arenas to all in attendance at the 2019 QRCA Annual Conference. The presentation provided an opportunity for qualitative researchers to expand thinking into new and future directions. Winter’s presentation included video testimonials and interviews of professionals who are utilizing their qualitative skills in new careers including urban planning and training medical professionals. For those who are thinking about new directions for their business, the case studies and the ensuing discussion helped provide a dialog for expanding ones' current practice or developing a new business model. For those just starting out, he provided a broader platform for thinking about a business model.

Key Takeaways:
The core skills of great moderators have many different and diverse applications. Their usefulness abounds! From using them to help train doctors by acting as a patient dying of a disease, to moderating mommy and baby groups, to managing interactive community outreach sessions, to facilitating internal project team meetings, to interviewing interviewees for high level jobs, and more. The skills translate well to any environment where empathy, thinking on your feet, reacting quickly in the moment to evolve the conversation, and where interacting as a human who is staying on track while listening and empathizing with the audience is needed.

Putting it into practice:
I know, like many in attendance, I will be looking further into broader applications to apply my moderating skills.

A-ha moment:
There can be many audiences and target segments that can benefit from qualitative skills, it’s important to take the opportunity to explore how we all can expand our field and practice.

There's life after being a qualitative researcher, and many ways to enrich the diversity of projects as a qualitative researcher!

Judithe AndreQRCA Reporter on the Scene:

Janet Standen

Scoot Insights
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/janetstanden/  
Twitter: @SCOOTInsights

Tags:  QRCA Annual Conference  QRCA Reporter on the Scene  qualitative research 

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Design Thinking – Beyond the Breakers

Posted By Liza Carroll, Wednesday, April 17, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, April 16, 2019
Design Thinking – Beyond the Breakers

Design Thinking

Depending upon the source, Design Thinking (DT) is key to innovation in everything from consumer goods to complex social systems, or it’s an overhyped workshop package. Having first been introduced to the concept at QRCA’s 2019 annual conference, and with the idea that others reading this blog might also be new to Design Thinking, I wanted to share more about it. Design Thinking is meant to place those who seek to engage in innovation – often diverse stakeholders – into an uncomfortable space. It should move people past their own biases so they can understand customers’ real needs, and design solutions that work.

The five steps of the process are most often introduced graphically on brightly colored hexagons: Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype, Test. Activities in the first two steps live in the problem space, and the last three are in the solutions space.  People who understand the ego-threatening implications of these steps point out that practitioners must be willing to manage controlled chaos in seeking the path to making something great.

design thinking

Design Thinking is demanding.  Yet, it is often sold as a quick fix and its core essential stages skimmed. This is why it is disparaged by some designers and others close to it. Consultancies and companies seeking commercial success without committing to authenticity may champion superficial workshops. Some using the process try to make Design Thinking overly linear, misunderstanding the untamed nature of the creativity that lives within its DNA.  

The first step – Empathize – has the most relevance to qualitative researchers — but can also be the most often snorkeled-over by those who don’t have the training or the gear to dive deep. “Empathy is hard!” notes Annette Smith in Is Design Thinking a Silver Bullet for Consumer Research. She explains what we all know better than most: “The ability to empathize without imposing your own cultural values and preconceived notions on a consumer is just not easy to do.” Add cultural difference to the equation, and empathizing is, of course, exponentially more difficult.

Jon Kolko addresses criticism of DT in his article, The Divisiveness of Design Thinking.  He asserts that the real work required during the Empathy step might conceivably be exchanged for 2-hour ‘subject matter expert’ interviews; but in taking such an approach, you may only gain a scratch-the-surface understanding of the business needs at hand. Kolko also examines breakdowns that happen in the other Design Thinking steps. In summary, anyone planning to take on the enormous job of leading others through the process would have to have the ability and experience to guide people toward dramatically reframing a problem by asking more interesting questions and to facilitate rich, meaningful collaboration. I recommend reading Kolko’s article to gain a much deeper introduction to the topic than provided in most introductory articles that stick to defining the steps.

design thinking

Circling back and thinking about Design Thinking’s qualitative heart, it’s interesting that just this month there was a post in the Qual Power Blog by Patricia Sunderland titled When Ethnography Becomes a Joke. In her post, she explains the difference between valuable and degraded ethnographic fieldwork, the methodology that is, as it happens, key to Design Thinking’s Step One – Empathy. Sofia Costa Alves, in her presentation Discover and Deploy Design Thinking described the careful ethnographic work that underpinned the Design Thinking activities she led with participants who were holders of diverse roles in a corporation during her facilitation experience in South America.

Being introduced to Design Thinking, what it can yield when done courageously, and also the ways in which it can be used when thinking “out of the box”, has been a wonderful learning experience. If you would like a list of resources I found valuable for gaining some understanding of Design Thinking, feel free to let me know in the comments or email me at lcarroll@rdteam.com.

Liza CarrollLiza Carroll is Consumer Insights Manager at RDTeam, Inc.

Tags:  design thinking  QRCA Digest  qualitative research  Research Methodologies 

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Annual Conference Reporter on the Scene: Go from Facts to Truth with Neuroscience and Storytelling

Posted By Judithe Andre, Thursday, April 11, 2019
Updated: Wednesday, April 3, 2019
Annual Conference Reporter on the Scene: Go from Facts to Truth with Neuroscience and Storytelling

Facts to Truth

Summary:
There is no one thing more powerful than the power of a good story. 

Ask someone a direct question and they'll try to give you an honest answer. But have them tell you a story and jewels will emerge that will be surprisingly illuminating. Professional storyteller and CEO of Story Strategies Lisa Lipkin shared her storytelling experience at the 2019 QRCA Annual Conference. Lipkin shared original storytelling techniques for extracting emotionally honest information in a safe and effective way and how to interpret those narrative responses.

Key Takeaways:
At the most basic level, humans are hardwired for stories because our brains thrive on wanting to know, “will this information help me survive?” When we share information, e.g., what we as moderators tell respondents or clients and what we hear in return, the information gets translated neurologically in ways that are undoubtedly powerful, although, not fully understood. We do know, however, the benefits of storytelling are multi-fold. Lipkin shared that storytelling promotes healing, increases dopamine and decreases stress levels. If we tell an emotionally-inducing story, not only are we the storytellers producing oxytocin, but so does the listener. Storytelling creates a neural coupling affect that results in greater connection and resonance between and/or among listeners.

Tips and tricks for delivering and eliciting stories:

  1. See the story in everything. Every object and person, even the most mundane of things has a story. We may have to stare at things for uncomfortably long periods of times, but staring long enough will reveal the story.
    Tip: Have respondents use the things and objects around them to tell their story.

  2. Fact is not the truth. Never start your presentation to a client by stating what the important facts are. Instead, consider what fascinates, compels and/or moves you the most, and start with that.  Due to neural coupling, if you are not engaged or moved by the story, nor will your audience be engaged.
    Tip: The key to compelling delivery is to start with the emotion and it can be a totally random emotion but make this the core story, then follow with the facts. Let the facts hang on the core or the emotionally punchy story for more impact.

  3. Know when your chapter is over. Be mindful of your audience and timing so that you know when your story has run its course. Listeners and audiences will know if the storyteller is not being authentic
    Tip: It is important to regularly recharge emotionally to ensure your storytelling stays effective.

     

Three specific techniques to help with eliciting stories from your participants: 

  1. Ask them where did they play as a kid?  Have them be very specific as they answer.
  2. Use objects. E.g., tell me the story about your accessory. Objects are vehicles that allow participants to not know that anything is being expected of them so that they can share deeper nuggets of truth.
  3. Use the invisible. For example, hand an imaginary box to your respondent and ask her to reach in and take out any object that was precious to her grandparents. Asking the participant to speak about her grandparents and not herself helps remove the direct association to the respondent; allowing her to be more honest. This approach almost always, and subconsciously, reveals what is ultimately truly meaningful to the respondent.

Remember: There is no one thing more powerful than the power of a good story. 

Putting it into practice:
I really enjoyed the session and appreciated Lipkin sharing her experience with all of us at the conference. I thought the elicitation tips were spot on and will incorporate them into practice.

A-ha moment:
We are all neurologically wired for a story, so let's start telling stories.

There’s no way to prepare for what we are going to hear, but as moderators we have to release some control and trust that these questions will go somewhere and lead to some very insightful information and jewels! 

Judithe AndreQRCA Reporter on the Scene:

Judithe Andre
Verbal Clue Qualitative Research

Tags:  QRCA Annual Conference  QRCA Reporter on the Scene  qualitative research 

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Annual Conference Reporter on the Scene: Marketing Technology + Human Insights = Untapped Opportunities

Posted By Daniela Rubio, Thursday, April 4, 2019
Updated: Wednesday, April 3, 2019
Annual Conference Reporter on the Scene: Marketing Technology + Human Insights = Untapped Opportunities

Marketing Technology Tools

Summary:
New technology vendors are popping up every day offering CMO’s marketing automation tools that promise ‘smart data’ and improved analytics. For QRC’s these emerging technologies can provide new opportunities to provide services and expertise that augments this data. Lisa Horwich of Pallas Research Associates took attendees of the 2019 QRCA Annual Conference through how AI (Artificial Intelligence), ML (Machine Learning), BI (Business Intelligence) and other parts of the Marketing Technology (MarTech) stack are transforming the market research industry.

In her session, we explored how these tools are being used, and most importantly, their limitations. Marketing technology does provide businesses opportunities for greater return on investment (ROI) and growth, but they don’t do enough to provide human insights. This presents an important opportunity for us, qualitative consultants, to not only utilize these technologies, but share how our qualitative service offerings will enhance our customers’ marketing efforts.

Key Takeaways:
As of 2018, marketing departments spent as much as IT departments on technology solutions. Marketing technology is selling the promise for ROI in a fast and more efficient way, including Real-Time Analytics, Business Intelligence, Artificial Intelligence (translation, speech recognition, decision making), and Machine Learning (the capacity for an algorithm to learn and improve its performance and output). All these tools provide solutions that help understand customer journeys in a more personalized way, increase customer retention and loyalty, and increase customer lifetime value.

These technologies also allow having multiple touch points of data (for example, if a customer is using a specific website through their mobile and then switch to an app but then decide to browse on their computer.  While all these technologies are promising “better, faster, cheaper” results, there are some big limitations that for qualitative consultants presents an opportunity. The most important of these opportunities is that big data can tell you the WHAT in a very specific way, but the technology is not developed yet to explain the WHY behind those insights to marketers. Horwich presented these additional limitations (L) and opportunities (O) for qualitative consultants:

  1. (L) Decisions are made solely on data --> (O) Use the data as a launching point for deeper qualitative analysis
  2.  (L) Existing data is not predictive enough --> (O) Create and maintain communities to identify predictive behavior
  3. (L) Need exponentially more content --> (O) Assist in narrowing target messaging
  4. (L) Insufficient 'training' data --> (O) Provide personas and other descriptive metrics to help 'train' algorithms
  5. (L) Lack of 'domain specific' attributes --> (O) Create feature lists to describe the data
  6. (L) Dimensionally inhibits predictive modeling --> (O) Help narrow down number of variables with human insights.

Putting it into practice:
Learning what these technologies can bring to the table and identifying where my qualitative expertise fits can help anyone during a sales pitch!

A-ha moment:
Despite how we have learned to utilize it as a resource, Google does not have all the answers!

What we do as qualitative consultants is incredibly valuable for business growth. Understanding the technological capabilities and their limitations are key for us to improve our sales pitches and present where our value lies to our clients.

Daniela RubioQRCA Reporter on the Scene

Daniela Rubio
The Intercultural Studio
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/danielarubio/

Tags:  QRCA Annual Conference  QRCA Reporter on the Scene  Qualitative Research 

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When Ethnography Becomes a Joke

Posted By Patricia Sunderland, Tuesday, April 2, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, April 2, 2019
When Ethnography Becomes a Joke

Joke Ethnography

It may or may not be news for readers of this blog — but for at least some clients, ethnography has turned into a joke.

For a number of years, we have witnessed a diminishing appetite for ethnographic work among commercial clients. Competition and challenges from new methodologies are understandable and to be expected. Yet an undercurrent of “we do not want to do ethnography because we tried it and we did not get anything out of it” has been unsettling. More troubling, a few months ago a client put it more bluntly: “No. Ethnography no way. It’s a joke around here when you mention it.”

Ugh. How could the methodology that I learned as an anthropologist and built my career around in the world of qualitative research have become a joke? And even more importantly, what must we do to retrieve ethnography from that dustbin of bad jokes?

Rejuvenate the Basics

Without simply sounding a conservative cry, one thing we must do is go back and ensure that we always deliver on the basics of solid ethnographic work. Ethnographic work seems to have been undergoing a process of lightening in which observation alone, a person alone, or even the word alone will suffice.

Observation and Conversation

Ethnographic fieldwork– as imagined and pioneered by founders such as Bronislaw Malinowski – was never simply about observation. The observational component was coupled with participation, as in participant observation, as well as linked with conversation, interviews, and quite simply put, talk. Observation without any window into what is going on in a person’s mind and heart while they are doing whatever they are doing is anemic at best. Frequently it is also off-base. A key to comprehension in ethnography, as in much qualitative work, is understanding a person’s point of view.

In January 2019, Rachael Lawes provided an outstanding webinar, “Honing Your Ethnographic Eye”. Drawing from discourse analysis, one of the key points of her presentation was the importance of attending to defensively designed statements in speech, for instance, when a person frames what they are saying as “simply stating a fact.” A pre-emptive defense such as this may indicate that the person may feel insecure about the point they are making and/or they may feel that others are likely to argue with what they are saying. Obviously, it is important that we listen – carefully – and not only observe.

Persons and Contexts

Also, while it is an ethnographic basic to understand a person’s point of view, the assumption is not that a person stands alone. When we do our ethnographic work, one of the strengths we can bring to the qualitative research table is to situate a person’s viewpoints and behaviors within a macro-societal as well as meso-social context. This can mean that rather than just studying the person, our unit of ethnographic analysis can and should be the household, the friendship group, the workplace, the family, and/or any social grouping that makes sense for the question and issue at hand.

Injecting Serious Analytic Soul

Beyond being sure to include both conversation and context as part of our ethnographic research, injecting serious analytic soul into the work is also definitely on order. One factor that seems to have fueled the jokes about ethnographic work is the handoff of ethnographic work to junior and client DIY teams. Unfortunately, what can and often does go missing in this handoff is the analytic component.

In much current commercial ethnography, it is almost as if the importance of the analysis has been forgotten. There is a tendency to take ethnographic work as if it is a case of “what you see is what you get.” But, of course, what one sees is filtered by the mind. And while ethnographers must strive for an open mind in order to grasp the point of view of others, they also bring every bit of experience, theory, and knowledge to their encounters and their own mental processing of the data.

For instance, a number of years ago, colleague Rita Denny and I worked on a new product study centered around home organization. The company’s goal was to develop new home storage products. As I observed and talked with people about how they organized items in their homes, it became obvious that spatial orientation (e.g., up versus down; vertical vs. horizontal) was providing critical cues. Items that were “up” were considered more organized than those that were “down.” Items that were vertical were considered ready to use; horizontal or flat signaled “in use.” Items that got stacked were packed. The photos below help illustrate the point.

vertical hanging
Vertical hanging on the door – an organized way to keep items that were ready to be taken out of the home.
vertical hanging
Vertical files keep papers ready as a resource and what must be done next is kept in front.
vertical hanging
A briefcase kept up off the floor seen as neater and more organized than if on the floor. Also kept in vertical orientation.

laying flat

laying flat
Lying flat is a signal of “in use” as with a book lying flat on a surface next to the bed (vs. vertical on a shelf, which is “ready for use”). But flat also often leads to “stacked,” which then quickly leads to “packed.”

 

This spatial insight would not have been as possible without the benefit dof having once read Lakoff and Johnson’s Metaphors We Live By. Lakoff and Johnson examined the way linguistic metaphors organize the way we think about and experience the world. Good moods, for example, tend to be described as “up” and bad moods in terms of “down.” And for the purposes of this example, think about the phrases “picking up” and “cleaning up.”

We need to be ready to bring our analytic minds to the table as we perform ethnography. This is the real value of doing ethnography in business. When we make analysis central to the task, we are able to deliver serious and often breakthrough results. Inductive analytic insight provides ethnography its serious point of differentiation versus other methodologies. Analysis with attention to language and the larger social world (not only observation and the individual) has the power to move ethnography far beyond the realm of jokes.

Patricia Sunderland, PhDPatricia Sunderland, PhD

Patricia Sunderland, PhD, is founder of Cultural Research and Analysis, Inc.. A specialist in the ethnographic, cultural and semiotic analysis of consumer worlds, Patti is also co-author and co-editor of two award-winning books in anthropology and commerce: Doing Anthropology in Consumer Research and the Handbook of Anthropology in Business. She splits her time between New York City and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.


Tags:  Ethnography  QRCA Digest  Qualitative Research  Research Methodologies 

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2019 QRCA Annual Conference: “Charting Your Best Course” – So much more than a slogan

Posted By Annette Esquibel, Friday, March 29, 2019
Updated: Wednesday, March 27, 2019
Annual Conference Reporter on the Scene: Step Back to Move Forward: Developing Customer Journey Maps

2019 QRCA Annual Conference: “Charting Your Best Course” – So much more than a slogan

Annette Esquibel is a 2019 QRCA Young Professionals Grant recipient. First launched in 2014, the Young Professionals Grant helps advance promising young qualitative researchers’ careers by providing access to networking and educational sessions via a free pass to the QRCA’s Annual Conference plus a one-year QRCA membership. Visit qrca.org/YPG to learn more.

I came to the 2019 QRCA Annual Conference with diverse experiences, an interest in qualitative research, a love of people, and a lack of direction.  I’m not going to say that attending the 3-day conference at the end of January magically fixed all my professional woes, but I will say that it gave me the resources, a community, and a direction that I had been looking for.

Before attending, I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I had undergone a career pivot a year before and had been feeling my way through the research world largely on my own. Don’t get me wrong, I had been networking my booty off, attending workshops, getting certifications and generally making a name for myselfbut it turns out I had siloed myself into one small niche of the research world without realizing it.  Luckily, during this time, I met Janet Standen, an amazing qually and big advocate for QRCA who encouraged me look into the upcoming conference.  Boy, am I glad I did! Participating in the QRCA Annual Conference opened my eyes to the abundance of opportunities in the qualitative research world. I was able to find more in terms of a network, career directional opportunities, and resources in three days than I had found in a year of searching on my own.

Annette Esquibel Meeting

Using the Young Professionals Roundtable to learn from each other's experiences and strategize solutions. Photo by Annette Esquibel

Annette Esquibel Meeting

Another “a-ha” moment in the works courtesy of genuine and ample networking opportunities. Photo courtesy of Babbletype

The conference was chockfull of diverse learning opportunities: 

  • Conference Sessions: There were a variety of conference sessions focused on five themes: honing methodologies, expanding thinking, refreshing convention, building business, and tackling technology.  There were sessions that could be of value whether you were a novice or expert, and with videos and materials from each session available after the conference, you didn’t have to worry about missing out on something incredible. 

  • Roundtables: Presentations not your thing?  There were also multiple small group and roundtable sessions to participate in. The Young Professionals Roundtable, called The Young Professional Exchange: Career and Life Hacks to Super Charge Your Growth, may have been my favorite learning opportunity. Recognizing that my peers face similar concerns and issues in our professional pursuits was reassuring and I gleaned actions from the solution-focused discussion that I am still applying in my day-to-day.

  • Case Studies: Tired of only hearing about things in theory?  Then the case studies presented by the Qually Awards finalists were for you!  With a real-world challenge set, these researchers presented pitches of creative, thorough, and diverse methodologies. 

  • Exposure to Tools & Vendors:  The marketplace was always an interesting place to spend a break.  Seeing all the tools and vendors that are available to us as researchers on exhibit was very helpful in figuring out the most effective way to work. 

  • Structured & Informal Networking: Last but certainly not least: the people! As a Young Professionals Grant winner, we were given multiple scheduled events to get to know each other. And what a great group of professionals to be a part of.  I also learned a ton just through conversations with other attendees. Coffee breaks, meals, evenings out, and even chats in the lobby led to a-ha moments and genuine connections that are invaluable.  QRCA is made up of qualitative researchers of all walks including independent consultants, researchers at agencies and in-house researchers so there was never a lack of interesting people to get to know! Speaking of interesting people - let’s talk about the First Timers program for new conference attendees.  Ambassadors are available for all first-time attendees and help make your time at the conference more productive and less stressful. I was lucky enough to be paired with Kate Wagenlander Watson, a QRCA rockstar and overall amazing human being.  Before the conference, I connected with Kate and we created a game plan to make sure I was able to get the most out of my time in Savannah. 

The beauty is that I know attending the conference is just the tip of the iceberg.  Since the Young Professionals Grant includes a year membership to the QRCA, I have access to all the online archives of past discussions, blogs, and articles as well as current posts, newsletters and webinars. The online community is a welcome and welcoming resource that I am so excited to put to use. I am joining my local chapter as well as Special Interest Groups (SIGs) to continue building my community and engage in learning that I am especially interested in. Plus, I can continue to grow my toolkit and support this great organization through the ample leadership and volunteer opportunities available. Really, the only thing limiting how much I can be involved is myself.


An amazing breakfast for the Young Professionals Grant winners served as a warm introduction for the group. Photo courtesy of Shannon Danzy

In case it isn’t clear yet, the people are what make QRCA and its annual conference so great.  I was absolutely floored by the genuinely collaborative and supportive attitude of the members I met.  One phrase I heard that perfectly describes their attitude is “There’s plenty of room in the sandbox.” While many of my past conference experiences have been tinged by an undercurrent of competitiveness and transactionality,that was not at all the feel of this gathering. I am confident in saying that because of the YP grant, I am now a member of a community.  I have found kindred spirits that are more than willing to act as mentors and friends in years to come.  I am confident that this network will be integral in finding my niche in the wild world of qualitative research.


Comradery was abundant from the get-go with both first-time attendees and long-standing members. Photo courtesy of Babbletype

So, thank you QRCA for welcoming me into your fold and for providing the generous Young Professionals Grant that made it possible for me to attend.  I’m so excited to continue my qualitative research journey as part of this amazing community. If you are questioning the value of joining QRCA, are starting out in the research world, or would like to hear more about the annual conference and funding opportunities, please reach out! See you all in Austin in 2020!

  

Annette EsquibelAnnette Esquibel
Anthropologist turned research strategist, Annette’s global experience is based in people-centered research aiming to do the most good possible. Currently located in Minnesota, she is now an active member of QRCA and invites you to connect.

Website: ThePeoplePerson
LinkedIn: Annette Esquibel

Tags:  QRCA  QRCA Annual Conference  QRCA Young Professionals Grant  Qualitative Research 

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Annual Conference Reporter on the Scene: Step Back to Move Forward: Developing Customer Journey Maps

Posted By Farnaz Badie, Thursday, March 28, 2019
Updated: Wednesday, March 13, 2019
Annual Conference Reporter on the Scene: Step Back to Move Forward: Developing Customer Journey Maps

 

Customer Journey Map

Summary:
Crafting a customer journey – reflecting both practical and emotional behaviors and attitudes – can illuminate more nuanced marketing and product development path for our clients. In this session, Aliza Pollack of Aliza Pollack Consulting, elegantly and patiently unpacked the steps required to create a customer journey.

Key Takeaways:
There are five key steps to creating a customer journey map: Benchmark, Discovery, Synthesis, Visualize and Action Plan.

  1. Benchmark: is essentially a stakeholder's download, in order to identify who the client team is, what they already know, and how they view the issue at hand. This step can be achieved in many ways, including using stakeholder interviews, client workshops, online surveys, etc.
  2. Discovery: is finding out what motivates the customer. This step ideally involves in-depth interviews with current users, lapsed users, as well as non-users of the brand, service, or category in question.
  3. Synthesis: is about analyzing the information acquired during the Discovery phase. The idea is to use the learnings in order to put the customer journey map together in a way that helps the client the best.
  4. Visualization: is about bringing the journey map to life, often using visuals / graphics – the final output could take several forms, e.g. poster, podcast, video, etc. Aliza often uses a designer to create the final map.
  5. Action Plan: is taking the created map and thinking about how to best utilize it. This step often takes the form of a client workshop led by Aliza, where the customer journey map results are debriefed and reviewed, and the client team discusses next steps.

Putting it into practice:
After this session, the creation of a Customer Journey Map is yet another qualitative service that I can now offer my clients, and in doing so, add value to their business.

A-ha moment:
The process of creating a journey map is imperfect, in that we are trying to shore up consumer's memory. As a result, we should do whatever we can to tap into the key journey moments in real time, through utilizing research techniques such as shop-alongs, respondent diaries, ethnographies, mobile research, etc.

Aliza was incredibly generous, precise, open and good-humored in delivering this session. She was able to answer multiple questions and better guide the audience through the process, making sure that attendees walked away with a clear understanding of what it takes to create a Customer Journey Map. Thank you Aliza for a great presentation :)

QRCA Reporter on the Scene:

Farnaz BadieFarnaz Badie
The Thought Bubble
LinkedIn

Tags:  QRCA Annual Conference  QRCA Reporter on the Scene  qualitative research 

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Annual Conference Reporter on the Scene: Discover & Deploy Design Thinking

Posted By Liza Carroll, Friday, March 22, 2019
Updated: Wednesday, March 13, 2019
Annual Conference Reporter on the Scene: Discover & Deploy Design Thinking

 

Design Thinking

Summary:
During the 2019 QRCA Annual Conference, Sofia Costa Alves of Mindbrand demonstrated how to lead a full Design Thinking Process from Stage 1 of Insights Gathering to Stage 5 of Product Testing. She illustrated the process through real case studies of process in action, from beginning to end. Costa Alves provided each attendee with a toolkit template that we can incorporate into the methodologies we offer to clients.

Key Takeaways:
Throughout the presentation we saw the divergent, integral thinking that characterized the process. Costa Alves shared that there are many different ways to put the Design Thinking Process into practice – it is about understanding the consumer and problems we are trying to solve.

The case study that Costa Alves provided was a great example of how to utilize the Design Thinking Process. The first step that was deployed was to have participants write down what they found “new, interesting, or surprising” in findings from consumer visits prior to the live session. Participants were instructed to lay out their opinions with three different color Post-Its:
Green = What’s Working
Red = Need to Fix
Yellow = Meh

The key to this process is to make sure that every participant is heard. After the Post-It exercise, the information was organized into major themes and then written on blank cards. These cards were placed on the wall and the post-it evidence was put on a flip chart where the team looked for strong evidence that there was something going on. All of this information was then converted into problem statements with priority being given to the key identified problems.

The participants next got into the ideating stage of the process. For each problem, participants were asked to create four radical solutions and then started generating ideas through drawing and writing. The work was shared with the group and feedback was given by all present participants. From these steps, the teams built prototypes and decided how to test the solutions they came up with and present them to consumers.

Throughout the whole process it became very clear to me that the key to successfully utilizing the Design Thinking Process is the charisma and energy of the moderator. Through the key use of energizers, ice breakers and breaks, the moderator can keep momentum throughout the process and find success.

Postits

Putting it into practice:
Personally, after this great in-depth presentation I will be carrying the recognition of how deeply the consumer needs to be understood in qualitative research into all my thinking and dealings with clients.

A-ha moment:
I found it funny and insightful that in the case studies presented, the moderators were able to gain the participation of the executives by giving up their phones for chocolate. Finally, the solutions/prototypes were focus-grouped with consumers. I loved the idea to "create 4 radical solutions" for each problem statement and will use that in my practice.

I was excited by the sheer number of Post-Its used in the various stages of the case study. They vividly conveyed the creative thinking and collaboration that went on throughout the Design Thinking session.

QRCA Reporter on the Scene:

Kendall Nash Liza Carroll
RDTeam, Inc
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lizacarroll/

Tags:  QRCA Annual Conference  QRCA Reporter on the Scene  qualitative research 

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Theater Games in Research and Ideation

Posted By Laurie Tema-Lyn, Tuesday, March 19, 2019
Annual Conference Reporter on the Scene: Step Back to Move Forward: Developing Customer Journey Maps

 Laurie tema Lyn

Bring the POWER of Theater Games to Your Next Session!

Let me start off by saying I am not an actor, although I’ve had some theater training. I earn my living as a researcher, consultant and innovation catalyst, and I’ve been doing that for decades.
I like to bring PLAY into my work as I see the results are well worth it in terms of ramping up the energy of a flagging team, developing empathy, encouraging candid, uncensored conversations and triggering or evaluating new ideas.

Using theater games builds on fundamentals that all face-to-face researchers/facilitators should have in their arsenal. They include:

  • The ability to build rapport and have fun;
  • Creating a “safe place” so people feel comfortable expressing themselves;
  • Being able to read your group through attentive listening and observation;
  • Being willing to take a risk, knowing that there are no failures — risks lead to opportunities.

Here are tips and techniques to add to your repertoire:

  • Start with an easy game; I call this one Word Salad. It’s a new twist on the tried-and-true technique of Mind Mapping by adding a pulse — a finger snap — as you capture each participant’s words on a flip chart pad. Breathe and repeat each word or phrase that you are given as you chart. It can be a bit hypnotic. Participants stop self-censoring and by pausing a moment as you repeat the words they listen, reflect and connect. A variation is to use a Nerf ball and throw it to participants to respond. Less time for “thinking,” just gut level responses.
  • Experiment with Improvs to illuminate brand perceptions, product or service use, or to inform creative strategy or positioning. It’s good to do a bit of pre-planning to identify some people, places, things or situations that you might want to see “acted out” in your work session. Position the exercise as an experiment.Ask for volunteers and give basic improv guidelines including the use of “Yes, And…” to accept or build on their partner’s offers. Remind participants that you are not looking to them to be funny or clever, just authentic to the character or situations. After you conduct a couple of improvs, it’s important to review what all have learned.
  • Theater of Exaggeration. Try this out to spice up a concept review. You might begin in your typical fashion and then encourage participants to push the boundaries. What are the Most Outrageous Plusses or Benefits to this concept? Conversely, what are the Most Outrageous Negatives to this idea? You just might end up with some new ideas or identify problems that participants had been too polite to suggest earlier.
  • Mouthfeel: Try this out to help evaluate a name and positioning. This is an improv where participants stand up and have a conversation using a new name or positioning. I recently ran a naming session with a colleague for a social services agency. We had six names in the top tier and were trying to evaluate which were the best. One of the name candidates looked great on paper, but when I asked for two volunteers to improv it (one in the role of a crisis hotline operator, the other a client calling for help) we realized it was a bear… too cumbersome to speak when used in context. We nixed that one from the list.
  • Spontaneity based on solid preparation. These games work when you mentally prepare yourselfas facilitator, prepare your respondent team by providing clear guidelines of what you are asking them to do, and prepare your client team in advance so that they won’t be shocked or worried if you include a theater game to your discussion guide or agenda.

These are just a small sampling of theater games and activities you might bring to your next gig. I encourage you to try them out and make up your own, and feel free to get in contact with me.

Links to more articles on this topic:

 

Laurie Tema LynLaurie Tema-Lyn
Practical Imagination Enterprises
laurie@practical-imagination.com

Tags:  QRCA Digest  Qualitative  Research Methodologies  Theater Games 

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Annual Conference Reporter on the Scene: Easy to Use Theatre Games for Energy, Insights and Ideas

Posted By Ben Grill, Thursday, March 14, 2019
Updated: Wednesday, March 13, 2019
Annual Conference Reporter on the Scene: Easy to Use Theatre Games for Energy, Insights and Ideas

Moderator's Preparation

Summary:
At the QRCA Annual Conference, Laurie Tema-Lyn of Practical Imagination Enterprises took the opportunity to teach quallies new playful ways to engage research participants and clients. In her presentation, Tema-Lyn gave us the tools and the confidence to overcome the barriers of expense and the daunting nature that comes with learning new techniques and taught us to use roleplay, improv and other theater games in our work for fun, energy and results!

Key Takeaways:
There are a lot of different games that we can utilize as researchers to engage our participants including

  1. Word Salad: A finger snapping game where the moderator asks a questions and people toss in their thoughts. QRCA participants admitted that when we tested this game, they felt more relaxed, focused, less stressed and able to answer honestly.
  2.  “Yes and…”: A technique used to build on the other participants’ ideas by saying “Yes and..” We learned that it is a good idea to run this exercise for two minutes maximum and then the moderator should end the process and debrief on what was said/acted out.
  3. Theatre of Exaggeration: As a group, we were divided into two teams (i.e. one side against idea X and the other side is pro idea X) and each team says what the extreme benefit or risk of the product or service is to identify potential issues.

I left the session with actionable tips for successful theatre games including making it okay for participants to fail and laying out some rules of play. The key to the success of these tactics are to build trust and comfort among participants early so they can let their hair down. Lastly, I learned that it's important to also debrief on the methodology/process:

  • Did the client find these innovative techniques useful?
  • Inspiring?
  • Better than the usual approach?”

Putting it into practice:
I greatly enjoyed Tema-Lyn’s session and I plan to use some of these tactics in my research. Anytime a group is low energy, the Word Salad would be a great way to energize and get latent ideas out of people. Also, when groups are quiet in the beginning, a few of the improv games could be used to create a more playful and sharing atmosphere.

A-ha moment:
I realized how impactful these tactics can be as I was watching the researchers in the room test the theatre games and agreeing they actually help them relax and engage in the question being asked. 

This session was great to experience live, seeing the games in action really drove home their impact. I am excited for Laurie’s upcoming post on the Qual Power Blog post on utilizing these tactics further!

For more information check out Laurie's book "Stir it up!  Recipes for Robust Insights and Red Hot Ideas" and look for her upcoming Qual Power Blog post on bringing the power of theater games to your next session!

Ben GrillQRCA Reporter on the Scene:

Ben Grill
The Insights Grill
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/bengrill
Twitter: @bengrill

Tags:  QRCA Annual Conference  QRCA Reporter on the Scene  Qualitative Research 

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