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Authentic ThinkTank

First up was Thinktank telling us about the benefit of “authentic interaction”. They had run a self-funded project: a pop-up ‘speakeasy’ where they lured in people with the offer of a glass of wine in exchange for some conversation. Rather than holding back in the conversation the researchers joined in too, to make it a more authentic experience. Very intriguing! I really liked the idea of doing the research on the street. I keep thinking about launching Street Qual (gedit?) because I do believe in the benefits of here and now research.  
Jim Mott gave a great presentation on Material Culture research. I found this one really inspiring.  Jim is interested in putting materials at the heart of research and understanding what they do to us, what they mean to us, how they mediate our behaviour. It was quite an intellectual presentation, but  at heart of the ideas he was talking about was something simple and practical, that ‘stuff’ matters to us, and putting it at the heart of our investigation can pay insight dividends.
Nicki Karet from Sherbet sold us on the charms of kids research and her co presenter Judy Bartkowiak shared with us NLP clean questions. If you haven’t come across ‘clean questions’ before then do check out this link for business  These are the kinds of questions we should be asking in research – to reveal behaviour, motivations, to deep dive, and they all avoid post rationalisations. That’s what I call questionology!  
Russ Wilson from Truth got us doing mock groups and then helped us explore what was affecting our responses. Drawing on academic thinking (he’s recommended me a book, so there will be a Qual Street Mailer on the subject in October…) he introduced us to ideas like
  • Dis-preferred responses… which is how people signal they don’t agree/ like something when the social norm is to agree (particularly in ‘polite’ company)
  • Power relationships… how the moderator has ‘power’ in the group and people’s automatic behaviour is to defer to power
  • Expertise… when people use expert language it establishes a dominant role for them in the group which again people (often) naturally defer to
  • Reserved vs extrovert speaker styles which impacts on how much people say, and affects the others in the group
Big alarm bells went off for me, reinforcing concerns about how significant group dynamics can be in affecting responses. The secret has to be: to understand more about dynamics, to have the time to analyse what’s gone on in the group (fast turnaround groups can totally mislead) and to make time for set up, to allow for dissent and individual responses…

If you’d like to learn more about the AQR conference, or anything related to understanding people, do get in touch. And please do help yourself to the Bank of Ideas on the website!
I'm really excited to say that the Qual Street Website is 'new and improved'. Now with added sections on clients, case studies and even more articles, notes and reviews in the newly created 'Bank of Ideas'. So why not visit and let me know what you think..
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