Bridging the Qual/Quant Divide

Concern with “big data” have dominated conversations in the past few years. What does “big data” really means? What constitutes “big” versus “small” data? How does “big data” lead to real insights? The promise of data hasn’t played out as planned and we are starting to see a rethinking of how it should be used. […]

Coffee: When Simple Things Change Everything

I, like many people, start my day with a steaming cup of coffee. When I was younger the process of waking up began with a book, the newspaper, or occasionally a pad of paper as I reflected on something that felt meaningful at the time. Today, my coffee is taken with a shot of news […]

Fire, Meat, and Spring

Spring is a celebration of life, warmth, and sunlight. It ushers in outdoor dining, drinking, and cooking. It’s time to brush the remaining winter detritus off the barbecue and throw masses of meat on the grill. It is also a time to ponder the notion that cooking over an open fire is an ancient ritual. Traces of […]

Moderating vs. Learning

Let me state that I am not a moderator. I am an ethnographer, an anthropologist, and a strategist. And while both moderators and ethnographers speak to people, they are not the same thing. This isn’t just a matter of semantic difference, it is at the heart of how practitioners execute their work and how they practice their […]

Reveling in BBQ: Dining Out and Ritual

I am in smoked meat paradise this week. Kansas City is perhaps the focal point of this marvelous cuisine – whether you’re a fan of Carolina or Texas styles, KC is a defining setting in the near-religious sects that defined American BBQ. There are places where it is served by waiters in white jackets and […]

Insights in an Age of Emotion

When historians look back on the early years of the 21st century they will note a paradigm shift from the closing years of the Information Age to the dawning of a new age, The Age of Emotion. Now, there are those that would argue that in a period defined by prolonged economic ennui ROI is […]

Does Size Really Matter?

Sample size is a fixation in research. We fret about it, argue over it, and generally have very little to back up the relevance we ascribe to it. Rather than thinking about the outcomes and goals, we get hung up on the n, sometimesusing it as a weapon to bolster a preconceived belief rather than […]

Where The Data Beasts Lie

Since the mid-nineties, the story about IT has been that the “New Information Economy” would give way to vast gains in productivity and creativity. We’ve been told that if we simply implement ERP, CRM, etc., our marketing efforts would be smarter and more efficient. But after 20+ years that is not exactly the case. The […]

Planning Basic Field Observation

When I’m sent to a setting, be it a country I’ve never visited before, be it digging through someone’s cupboard, watching them plan their next vacation, or cooking dinner with a family I’ve never met, one of the first things I do is think through how I will make sense of the environment and how […]

Food, Sex, Guilt: How Marketing What We Eat Needs to Change

Eating has always been closely linked with courtship. All species, including our own, seem to be involved in this mating gamble with food as the bait. Equally, food and sex are generally closely linked. Biologically, they are physically linked in the limbic system of the brain, which controls emotional activity. Many of the words we […]