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Annual Conference Reporter on the Scene: FG BnB!

Posted By Brooke Bower, Thursday, May 21, 2020

Annual Conference Reporter on the Scene: FG BnB!

Presenters: Abby Leafe, New Leafe Research and Laurie Tema-Lyn, Practical Imagination Enterprises

Summary

At the 2020 QRCA Annual Conference, presenters Abby Leafe and Laurie Tema-Lyn asked all of us “What happens when you bring the sharing economy to the world of research?” Turns out, a lot of exciting things! Throughout the session, Abby and Laurie creatively (and practically!) presented how we can use alternative venues for conducting qualitative research such as AirBnB and Peerspace and how to ensure that a project is a success once the right space is identified.

The engaging session provided real world instances of this method. Both Abby and Laurie utilized their own experiences using unique spaces to conduct qualitative research throughout, including an instance where an LA mansion proved to be the ideal setting for three days of focus groups and client innovation sessions for a start-up client on a budget, leading to development of a pipeline of new product ideas, some of which are now in the marketplace. As they pointed out, not everything is sunshine and roses when utilizing these spaces. Both Abby and Laurie highlighted some hard-earned learnings about how to avoid problems and ensure our sanity when working in a new space that may not be set up for our research.

Key Takeaways

Non-traditional locations can be great for the right project. The project should have a very specific reason for choosing a non-traditional venue and all logistics associated with the venue need to be explored and planned for. The general elements to consider include:

  • How to get there: for clients, respondents, and the researchers.
  • Comfort: what is needed to make the research comfortable and is there enough privacy for the structure of the research.
  • Technology needed: can be the biggest factor to consider.
  • Budget: sometimes non-traditional locations can be a cost saver, but researchers must think through everything you need to bring that might be in a traditional facility,  i.e. multiple types of creamer, buying easels/office supplies, bringing in snacks and meals, staffing the location to have a facility manager.
  • The intangibles: the ambiance fit for the project, your gut feeling.

If all of these are considered and it is a fit for the project, the right place can help stimulate creativity and engage the mind in different activities, communicating to clients and respondents it is not business as usual!

A key tip from both Abby and Laurie was to thoroughly prepare the clients and respondents for the venue. Overcommunicate about it. Write a letter to the respondents introducing yourself as the moderator, telling them about the purpose of the research and why it is being held in the non-traditional location, and how to get there with special parking instructions.

Aha Moment

The fun, non-traditional location can strengthen the depth of your connection with your client as it takes you out of the standard business setting (i.e. debriefing in a luxury LA mansion by the pool after the respondents have left!). This presentation really broadened my mind and encouraged me to think more creatively when I am looking for research venues!

Final Comments

The topic of this presentation was creative and provided fresh ideas to re-energize research projects!

QRCA Reporter on the Scene: Brooke Bower, Independent Research Consultant

Tags:  focus groups  human behavior  Humanizing Research  market research  marketing research  mobile research  Moderating  outreach  QRCA Annual Conference  QRCA Reporter on the Scene  Qualitative Methodologies  Research Methodologies  research methodology 

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Meditation and the Art of Moderating

Posted By Regina Szyszkiewicz, MA, Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Meditation and the Art of Moderating

mindfulness

Handling Tough Moments

Imagine you are seated at the head of a conference table and you open a focus group discussion asking participants how they feel about their health insurance plan. And the first person who responds says she does not like her plan because she received poor care that led to amputation of her leg. And imagine you still have 90 minutes to go and you don’t want the group’s energy or the discussion to get derailed. What do you do?

This actually happened to me about 15 years ago. I was personally shocked and momentarily caught off-guard by the comment. But I managed to connect with the participant, acknowledging what she had just shared. I proceeded to uncover what others had to say — which included more typical responses of being happy or unhappy due to cost or access.

In the end, the group was successful and the client obtained the desired insights tied to the research objectives. I felt fortunate, because I knew it could have gone a different way.

we are only human

We Are only Human

As moderators, we have to keep our cool. There are many things we need to juggle during a live focus group or interview session. We need to multi-task: asking the questions, managing participation, keeping track of research objectives, watching the time, etc.

During sessions, we never know what will come. Things might not go as planned: participants may arrive late, first-time client observers may want to add questions that are off-topic to a discussion guide that is already packed, someone may become ill in the group, etc. We need to be able to respond mindfully and wisely.

To ensure participants feel safe, secure, and comfortable, we personally also need to feel the same. When we have an off day, we need to find a way to get our energy centered and grounded.

meditation to the rescue

Meditation to the Rescue

There are things we can do to become present with ourselves so that we can be present with others. Having a self-connecting routine or ritual prior to beginning an interview or focus group is a good start.

I find daily meditation and yoga practice to be an invaluable self-connecting training. I can more easily find the mental and emotional space to make wise choices in the moment. I am also better able to have compassion for others and myself.

In fact, I have found meditation and yoga to be so beneficial in my life and career that I became a certified yoga instructor 15 years ago! (I now teach a community yoga class on most Saturdays as a volunteer.)

meditation

Some self-connecting tools to explore:

Author Bio:


Regina Szyszkiewicz, MA, of Ten People Talking loves qualitative research. She is a master moderator who has conducted over a thousand qualitative sessions. Regina has deep experience in both in-person and online qualitative methods. Regina received her MA from the University of Illinois in Applied Sociology / Market Research. She served on QRCA’s board from 2016-2018 and currently serves as a co-chair of QRCA’s Online Special Interest Group.

www.Tenpeopletalking.com
https://www.linkedin.com/in/reginaszyszkiewicz/

Tags:  Moderating  QRCA Digest 

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Moderating vs. Facilitating: What’s the Difference? Can You Do Both?

Posted By Bruce Peoples, Tuesday, August 20, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Moderating vs. Facilitating: What’s the Difference? Can You Do Both?

A few events in my career journey triggered the exploration of facilitating as a business opportunity and value-add for my clients. First was a breakout session at a QRCA conference where “facilitating” — vs. “moderating” — was brought to my attention. The second was when a client called me on a Sunday to replace his facilitator on Monday, to facilitate a session with R&D, sales, and marketing. With so little time to prepare, I trusted my instincts and experience as a moderator and let it fly… and suddenly I was a facilitator! It was a productive session — the client called me back for another session, and later to do consumer focus groups — and my curiosity was piqued to learn more.

Core Elements: The Same

I attended a three-day training session in facilitation (much like those offered at RIVA or Burke) and was pleasantly surprised to confirm that these two disciplines have much in common. The core elements of moderating and facilitating are the same: there is a gathering of people with something in common; there is a purpose behind the meeting; and there are desired outcomes. You guide the discussion in a thoughtful manner by providing structure and process.

Perhaps the biggest commonality is putting together an agenda — what we call a discussion guide — based on the client’s objectives and desired deliverables. Like a focus group discussion guide, much attention must be paid to the flow of the meeting and to the activities that will generate robust discussions.

 

Many of the exercises you utilize for qualitative can also be used for facilitating meetings. These might include:

Key Takeaways

  • Brainstorming
  • Developing lists and gathering, sorting, and ranking ideas
  • Breaking out in small groups
  • Mind mapping
  • Perceptual mapping

Facilitated meetings are usually longer – a half day – and therefore benefit from energizing exercises interspersed throughout the session.

 

The Differences: Participants, Output, and Achieving Consensus

One key difference between moderating and facilitating is the participants. Focus group participants have no skin in the outcome; you will never see them again. Facilitated participants have to work with each other. A facilitated meeting may have colleagues from different functions (R&D, marketing, sales) and at different levels of authority (managers to vice presidents). When the meeting is over, they have to work together to achieve common goals. Their strategies and tactics – their jobs – might be affected by the outcome. I ask to conduct a few brief interviews of participants from different areas prior to the meeting to get a feel for the situation, personalities, motives, and issues that might arise.

Another difference is the output: in a focus group, the outputs are insights and determining their implications and developing recommendations. In a facilitated work group or work team meeting, the output is often an action plan that determines what, who, how much, and when. The action plan should be understood and agreed upon by all participants. In other words: achieve consensus, which means participants can live with the decisions that created the action plan and support them.

Two issues you’ll address more often when facilitating a work team than moderating consumers are resolving conflicts and achieving consensus. Marketing wants that new ice cream now; manufacturing can’t make it until next year. Your approach is somewhat intuitive and not much different than if moderating – but requires more attention and care. Things you’ll need to spend more time on include clarifying the issue, understanding its root causes, ensuring everyone understands the issue, brainstorming pros and cons, and ultimately utilizing techniques to rank or prioritize.

Projects and Meetings Where Facilitators Add Value

Facilitators can add value to a lot of different projects and meetings, but common types are:

  • Innovation: Brainstorming to create new product ideas.
  • Process improvement: This might include flowcharting a process, identifying roadblocks, and developing solutions to clear those roadblocks.
  • Strategic planning: This might include a market situation assessment, SWOT analysis, and developing the outlines of a new strategic plan.
  • Data Analysis: Sharing, analyzing, and assessing a lot of data from a variety of sources.
  • Planning and executing a new product launch: The output is often an action plan.

 

Implications for You

If you are a good moderator, should you seek out facilitation opportunities? Yes! You already have many of the skills, resources, and experiences to successfully facilitate work group meetings. To pump up your confidence before jumping in, seek and find some formal facilitation training. On your first projects, get a partner to help plan and execute.

Market Thyself

Put together a one- or two-page brochure (PDF is fine) highlighting your capabilities – and this can include moderating. Then network your way to generate awareness. Many of you work with research managers at large companies. Let them know and ask them to share your capabilities with their colleagues in other functions, such as marketing, sales, R&D, or HR.

About the Author:

Prior to becoming a qualitative consultant, Bruce Peoples worked in brand management, channel, and customer marketing for several well-known brands in different industries including Hanes and Jack Daniel’s. Bruce has been a QRCA member for about a decade now and utilizes a variety of methods to help his clients solve their marketing problems, whether they be consumer or business-to-business related. Bruce was trained in moderating at RIVA and in facilitation at Leadership Strategies.

Website

Tags:  Facilitating  Moderating  QRCA Digest  Qualitative  Research Methodologies 

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