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Hello! This month something for client-side researchers, something for research practitioners…
A Book to Read if you work in business:
Humble Inquiry by Edgar H Schein

Humble inquiry is a book about asking questions. I was attracted to it because I thought I could learn more about how to ask good questions, and I did, but in an unexpected way…

The book focuses on how businesses run, and it develops the idea that in the West, in particular, we are task and status focused. In business, people are told what to do by their leaders. Whilst this kind of hierarchy has its benefits, it also sets us up to transmit ideas, and often stops us from receiving them.

Humble enquiry, is simply the process of remembering that we need to understand what’s going on from all team member’s point of view. It’s a mode of listening and asking which enables the questioner to see other people’s perspectives. In other words, it’s identical to the stance a researcher takes in an interview, but used in everyday working life.

What struck me was how little researchers use ‘humble enquiry’ once they have ‘done’ with their interviewing, but they should. First, when analysing findings both with colleagues and with clients, and secondly in the presentation and dissemination of the findings themselves. We can only know if the insight we are delivering is useful through humble enquiry. We need to develop better ways to present findings with humble enquiry at its core.

Qual research (at least on Qual St.) is increasingly using bulletin boards and on-line communities to help us get close to customers ‘lived experiences’. I often follow up this approach with detailed face to face interviews in order to understand more deeply what’s going on in people’s lives.
With all this individual data comes the difficulty of developing coherent insight that goes beyond reportage to make sense of all this difference and detail…
I've noted down the analysis process I use - hope it's useful!
1. Analysis before, during and after

a. Before
I read around the topic to help me figure out what I might be looking for. I was reading about social influence in a reason study, and I applied the thinking there when I was developing the discussion guide - adding in questions on affiliation...
b. During
Particularly where a project happens in stages, I think through what I’ve heard and seen so far, and then figure out a set of analysis questions I’d like answers to in the next stages of research...
c. After
There are several stages to doing analysis once the fieldwork is over…
2. The after process:

a. Listening back: tuning in and noting down…
At this stage I go through notes, transcripts, respondents' posts and interview recordings. I try to absorb it all, and whilst I’m going through the materials I generate post-it notes as random thoughts arise. Jotting down these thoughts allows me to park them and move on with the rest of the detail. Sometimes I make lots of video clips at this point as part of the client's video library.
b. Think
I take time too to just think about what I’ve been reading, playing around with ideas in my mind as to what I think the answer is. I do this walking, jogging and in the shower. No kidding.
c. Discuss
I really value spending time in conversation going through the detail of the research with other researchers. In a 'prep' session I believe there should be time set aside for free flowing ideas… as well as going through the detail of what happened in all the individual sessions.
e. Think and discuss with the client
Next I start to work out some key big ideas that will form the basis of the report (the story outline) and then talk them through with the client to see if they are what is needed.
f. Start to plan the structure of the debrief
I often simply ‘visualise’ the structure, but it’s good to write down a plan too. At this point I also edit video clips, and work out how I am going to present ideas visually – I think I probably leave this a bit late in the process!

g. Write
I try to only write at the point I know what I’m going to say.
h. Review
I try to leave aside time to review what I’ve written and refine it – often the client or other researchers help here too with fresh eyes.
I’m very excited to be doing a pro bono project with Vicki Raynor this month, exploring how parkrun can become more accessible for visually impaired runners.

I've been to the Insight Show at Olympia and enjoyed catching up with clients, fellow researchers and suppliers.  Do get in touch if you want to hear more about the new agencies that impressed me.