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Lesson # 1: Trust your own judgment
I wish there was one book, one resource, one website that could answer my questions about research design, moderator guide development, recruiting, which interventions or projective techniques to use. I wish there was one place I could go to look for how to analyze subjective data in an objective way. I wish I knew what to say to a client who is making requests that he/she cannot see are unreasonable and impossible to meet in a qualitative environment. But no such resource bank exists. I have had to learn to trust my own judgment – to do what I think is best, usually right in the moment. Sure, sometimes I call a colleague to check out some things. Sometimes I look on the Web for information, or scour my old files for how I solved a similar problem in the past.
I have learned that to trust my own judgment, I have to ask myself questions since ultimately my answers will provide a path on which I can walk. Here are some of the questions I ask myself as I move through a project:
Over the years, I have encountered the same problems more than once. I have had to create some solutions. I had no one to ask…I looked to see what would be best for all parties – and I trusted myself – stepped off into the unknown on faith and just kept walking.
PROBLEM / ISSUE
|Client has 14 concepts to test – not willing to give any up…wants respondents to see all 14 – to do it right will take 3 hours.
All we have is two hours and really that nets down to 100 minutes of actual research time because of the need to manage group dynamics.
|Client has enough Qs for a 120 minute group but only wants to spend 90 minutes with each group so that three groups can be done in a day||
|Should I eject this respondent or keep them?||
I promise to write more on this topic in a later blog!
|What happens if the study purpose changes while in the field?||
One of the nice things about getting older is knowing that wisdom comes from experience. When I led my first groups in the late 1970’s, my knowledge came from sociology and psychology books as well as from watching more experienced moderators. I made a lot of mistakes, which taught me well. A New Age guru said in the 1980’s, “Do more of what works and less of what doesn’t and that equals success.”
I am living proof that he was right! Here are six lessons on what I have learned after leading 6,000 focus groups – roughly one lesson every 1,000 groups is how it has averaged out.
Lesson 1: Trust your own judgment
Lesson 2: Put everything in writing
Lesson 3: No one remembers the last group you led – you are only as good as your next group
Lesson 4: Maintain research rigor not research rigidity
Lesson 5: Laugh early – it will all be funny later
Lesson 6: Learn to expect and embrace change