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 […]

Triangulation: Validating Research and Strategy

One of the central problems we run into when discussing research finds, particularly when we’re using those finding to give strategic direction, is having the research’s validity called into question. I’ve talked over the years a fair amount about the idea of triangulation, but I’ve rarely summed up what it means. Here’s my take in […]

Obsessing Over Bias

Recognizing and understanding research bias is crucial for determining the utility of study results and an essential aspect of decision making in marketing. Research plans that lack clear mechanisms to minimize bias are unlikely to be viewed favorably and the end results dismissed. But what are the rules for qualitative research studies? Whenever I am […]

Finding Balance: Data, FIeldwork, and Creativity

There is perhaps nothing new about the ongoing battle between data and qualitative work, and the influence they have on creativity and design. Data is everything, creativity is dead vs. the argument that creativity is paramount and data is a distraction. Neither position is true, though there is some truth in each argument. The goal […]

Experimenting With Ethnography

Ethnography means many things to many people these days and heaven knows I’ve spouted off about that topic on more than one occasion, so I won’t go down that path again (at least not for today). But there are underlying currents in how people define ethnography that seem to be representative of a larger degree […]

Co-Creation and Managing What Matters

Co-creation has become a central theme for brands and innovators over the last decade, and rightfully so. The idea of collaboration in a postmodern world where information and opinions reach millions in the blink of an eye is a necessity. But what do we mean when we talk about co-creation and is it the panacea […]

Ethnographers vs. Moderators: Know What You Are Buying

The other day I was speaking with someone about ethnography and was informed by the person in question that she too was a “moderator.” She, of course, practiced ethnography, such as it is, and informed me she had been “moderating ethnographies” for years.  Yes, it made my skin crawl. Not because someone was crossing disciplinary […]

Art, Video and Client Acceptance

When we conduct qualitative research it is inevitable that we have clients who choose to dismiss what we have to say.  More accurately, there are people within the organization that have, for a host of reasons, made the decision, consciously and subconsciously, to find any excuse possible to reject the finding.  The question is what […]

Client Buy-In: Selling Results Before Methods

As I’ve written about before, “ethnography” is a loaded word for many people, including clients. It is presented as everything from in-home interviews to mall intercepts to participant observation.  And while I am an unquestionable advocate for defining in terms of participant observation and the kind of deep-dive research that involves far more than just […]