Click on the Thumbnail to see the film.
Doubts about qualitative research in its traditional forms continue to gather pace. Here, in a cutely executed piece Coca Cola take a swipe at traditional processes – among them qualitative research. If you look more closely though, it is a particular form of qual that they criticise, namely “qualitative testing of scripts, an increasingly outmoded and irrelevant tool.”
Some colleagues have reacted nervously to this, perhaps wondering if it’s another brick in the growing wall of doubt about the usefulness and validity of our practices.
However, if you carry on, a few seconds later, you’ll hear enthusiastic avocation of a qualitative technique that can be used to ‘expand the creative potential’ in idea development. This turns out to be collaborative workshops with consumers, a qualitative experience if ever there was one, and is based in Coke’s idea that ‘consumers produce more brand stories than we (Coca Cola) do, so let’s move towards genuine consumer collaboration.’
This is co-creation if ever I heard it, and whether you carry it out online or via workshops is a choice. There are distinct advantages and drawbacks to both routes. In my recent paper, I define qualitative research as the study of subjective experience, it is not – and never has been in my view – a method for establishing likes and dislikes or eliciting opinions about material that consumers have no stake in. This kind of script testing work arose in the first place as big organisations back in the 80′s and 90′s established their own marketing departments and needed a handy tool to hold their ad agencies in check and provide fuel and ammunition for discussing agency recommendations with the consumer’s voice included. As I tell in the paper, this quickly became an industry standard practice and for many years many quallies lived off it, myself included. But we have found out since that it is of questionable validity and many of us have changed our methods.
We started co-creating in 1991 to resolve just this methodological issue. Glad to see Coca Cola catching up at last!
For what its worth, my own view of this film is that using a visualiser to tell a story is fine, but this story is far too processy, full of detail and jargon such that at the end the table of ‘tools’ being recommended looks overloaded and extremely crowded. I suspect its like that in real life as each of the techniques and their proponents struggle for supremacy.
This week I want to offer you a copy of my latest paper, published in the International Journal of Market Research, Volume 54, Issue 3, this month. Called Working in Depth it provides what I hope is a comprehensive description of the value of face to face work – and the principles underpinning it – derived as they are in my practice from the European schools of psychology, rather than the American: in particular from Gestalt and Existentialism.
My approach is essentially about enabling the whole person to be present in the session: if you like brief, snappy expressions, I would some it up as: “People before Products”.
I believe that many of the over-simplistic and plain wrong findings we get from formulaic ‘Question & Answer’ sessions arise from the fact that we only have 20% of each person in the room. We already know how tricky it is for everyone to get in touch with and express their real motives (see the work of Kahneman & Tversky), but there is a real opportunity to accomplish that if we set up a safe environment for in-depth work where people can join together to explore less obvious and less noble reasons for their choices and behaviour. Without a safe place where people have time to look inward, such in-depth work is impossible.
Here, without more ado is the paper! Please email me and let me know what you think – good or bad!
Hardly any of us realise that there are as many types of listening as there are of speaking. We are familiar with the ideas of tones of voice, but not with its equivalent – tones of listening. Yet we all know whether and how someone is listening to us or not within seconds!
In Facilitation 1 we tackle this issue of listening in depth with a series of exercises which practice different ways of focusing your listening and different ways of giving accurate feedback to those you are supposed to be listening to. This movie is about Accurate Empathic Listening – a key skill – and an underdeveloped one – for insight workers and qualitative researchers.
In the May issue of the International Journal of Market Research I explore this issue in more detail, lamenting the rise of ‘scientism’ or pseudo-science and its invidious effect on our practice. Have a read of the article if you will – and post a comment!
We’ve all been there: the evening is late, the second group is halfway through and the energy is gone. Both the moderator and the group are running on Auto-pilot. A new stimulus/test concept is introduced and there is a sense of random choosing in the responses. There is definitely a feeling of inauthenticity in the replies. People are being polite – just!
The group in the video tackle this and come up with suggestions for re-energising the group. The two I like best, because they work best, are getting people to change places which literally ‘breaks’ the set territoriality of the group and asking people to speculate about what other people they have met in the group might think about the ideas.
This latter works well because people will be nervous and excited about commenting on other group members – and the others themselves will be engaged lest their reputations (in the form of their opinions) are misrepresented. This slightly ‘anxious’ edge re-energises the session.
The group in the video are a talented and enthusiastic group of young researchers from 2cv. Thanks to you all!
Where shall I start? This is one of the most common misunderstandings of qualitative procedures. It tells both of the quantitative (how much, how many?) orientation of many buyers and practitioners – and more fundamentally in group work – it demonstrates the failure to take the group seriously! It is part of what David Rennie, a brilliant academic commentator on qualitative process calls, “Dragging the chains of positivism along the corridor of qualitative inquiry.” Well put David!
I’m going to tackle the quant. thing first. No matter how many people said or didn’t say something in a qualitative study it has no statistical validity if you try to generalise it to National or Regional or Demographic levels. It may have face validity and be a jolly useful insight that happens to scale up, but it is no test for the frequency or universality of the idea across large populations at this early stage. However, although every sensible client and researcher knows this, it still emerges as the question people have to ask, because they don’t know a language for better questions. It is a failure of the qualitative industry generally to inform and teach our associates better questions to ask of us.
There are hundreds of things we say just because – well – it’s our turn, we’re due to speak, we’re feeling left out. These remarks are likely to be based on winning formulae we’ve used before – which have got us us noticed, past a sticky moment, allayed our inner critic etc. In other words, we say them because we always say them when we’re feeling the need to say something in a situation where we’re trying to do well and must compete for attention with others! Groups are full of such utterances and they exist to promote norms and comfort among participants – not to describe deep-felt feelings or motivations about your brand or product. Because of this, stuff that lots of people say or agree to is likely to be among the least significant of all the things they say. In my experience the really telling remarks are those that stand out from the others!
Insight nearly always emerges from things you haven’t heard before, or things said in a way you’ve never thought of before. It does not reside in polite, safe, normative remarks unless these serve a deeper purpose for the brand or service.
Sadly, the ‘how many of them?’ criterion leads us to focus on the remarks driven by the need to norm as the most significant when they are neither significant or really about the product or service at all!
There is, however, a much more serious problem underlying this: what I call ‘the failure to take the group seriously’. Nearly all of us, practitioners, clients, psychologists alike really harbour the notion that the group is actually a collection of individuals whose statements can be aggregated or counted to generate an analysis. But what if the group can be considered as an entity with character and personality in its own right. And that the people in it, for the time of the group, are parts of a whole? In other words that the voices in the group are sub-personalities of the group personality and that this is in truth the aspect of the group worth attending to. How did it feel to be with this composite person? What parts of this person did you meet (sub-personalities)? What feelings came up in you, the facilitator whilst with this ‘person’? Could these have been feelings travelling around the group? If you had to offer a sensible explanation of this feeling, how would you explain it?
As well as feelings, there is usually a tone of voice that the group ‘finds’ after a while. If you have too intensive a topic guide, this tone of voice is likely to be dependent – waiting for the next question. Such tones are flat, polite, take-it-in-turns in form and resemble people giving answers on a questionnaire in form. As moderator you can encourage spontaneity in tone and content by setting challenges for the group which it cannot solve by normative processes. We teach these challenges in our Breakthrough Psychology Course.
I think this is such an overlooked area in our practice of qualitative research that I will return to it soon.
Please click on the thumbnail to play movie.
This is our first movie from the recent Facilitation workshop pilots. Here we can see participants receiving feedback from other group members about what works when they are in front of the room. Many of us do not clearly know what our great qualities are – especially those we take for granted – and this exercise is a way of getting in touch with the things about you that are appreciated by others.
With these qualities that show up every time you show up, you do not need to be afraid that you don’t have the right capabilities for the job!
“The word is not the route to the psyche. In the beginning was not the word, but the act.”
Jacob Moreno is the founder of Psychodrama, the use of theatrical performance and staging to re-enact events and circumstances from life. Trained as a doctor in Vienna 1912-1917, he rejected Freudian theory while still at medical school. In his autobiography, he writes that he told Freud after a lecture that he gave: “I start where you leave off. You meet people in the artificial setting of your office. I meet them on the street and in their home, in their natural surroundings. You analyse their dreams. I give them the courage to dream again. You analyse them and tear them apart. I let them act out their conflicting roles and help them to put the parts back together again.”
Starting in 1921 he began experimenting with drama as a way of treating psychiatric patients in groups. He founded The Spontaneity Theatre which used improvisational drama as a means of treatment.
In the 1920’s he also developed a set of ideas which he termed Sociometry – a research method for looking at the social structure of groups which involved Sociograms illustrating these structures. Moreno moved to the USA in 1925 and held position at Columbia University. These ideas are very useful in group work.
- Humans are not just biologically determined (as Freud thought) but have a spiritual side and are influenced by their social context. “He did not believe in Freud’s model … Freud came from biology, Moreno was inspired by the great religions of this world. Freud was atheistic. Moreno was not.”
- He emphasises the importance of creativity and spontaneityin human life. Children have a lot of these things but they get squashed. Life produces constraints, society demands conformity, and therefore people get mired in habitual ways of responding where their spontaneity is stifled. He believed that therapeutic intervention should have the aim of enabling people to reconnect with their spontaneity and thus allow them to:
- be more integrated as people
- be able to respond more flexibly and creatively to new situations, and in the way they lead their lives
- Psychodrama as an intervention is designed to bring these aims about. He developed a range of techniques within Psychodrama such as role reversal and empty chair (before Fritz Perls).
In Zerka Moreno’s words (in an interview with Victor Yalom Ph.D. on psychotherapy.net)
“The easiest way to think about [Psychodrama] is ‘the mind in action’. Instead of talking about your concerns we say ‘Don’t tell me. Show me! Showing means to act it out … it helps you to express yourself in a new way .. a way that life doesn’t usually permit [in order to] make you more integrated.”
“We’re all broken and need to become more cohesive, more integrated from within. Through the catharsis of integration, we become balanced, within and without.”
You can find a download of this summary here: Psychology on a Page 11: Psychodrama
By far the best thing if you want to experience this style of work is to do one of our Action Techniques Days.
If you have done a lot of focus groups you will have developed your own style or way of working. What was once a frightening procedure – being expected to contact and direct a group of strangers in a productive inquiry – may have become so commonplace that you have created and adopted a style that is as easy to slip on as a well-worn jacket.
To do this, the psychological mechanisms of adaptation (getting familiar with) and trial-and-error mapping will have been your allies. Put simply, you try stuff out, expand what works and contract what doesn’t.
Expressed in a diagram it looks like this:
You can click and drag this diagram if you find it useful, it is developed from work by Chris Agyris, at Harvard. Chris is a thought leader in the area of learning organisations.
Like many mechanical analogies & process diagrams it’s very comforting; a bit like the Tube Map. In this map stuff happens, it either matches (the inner path) or mismatches (the outer path) your expectations and you adjust accordingly. “Simples!”
But of course, with our appreciation of the idea of both Foreground and Background (see Top Tips for Researchers 8: Tapping the Unconscious where I introduce these ideas) that are always present in communication we can ask: ‘is it really like that?’ Let’s explore the Background for a moment. I will offer some experiences from my own Background voices to get us started. Whether I liked it or not, these were the kind of thoughts and concerns that were always with me:
- “It’s a long journey to this venue. I haven’t left quite enough time…am I going to make it?”
- “I have spent all day working on Project X – and now suddenly find myself off to do groups in Project Y. I am out of touch with the topic – and tired.”
- “This group seem subdued. I wonder is there something the matter with them – or is it me?”
- “I don’t like that bloke’s tone of voice. He seems very aggressive. I wonder if I’m going to have trouble with him.”
- “I didn’t get a look at who is in the viewing room. It seems noisy in there. What’s going on?”
- “There’s a silent chap with arms folded in the corner. How am I gonna draw him in?”
- “They’re paying a lot more attention to the sandwiches and wine than they are to the topic.”
- “I was late and it looks like they already got acquainted. There’s a group going on already. What’s it about?”
- “…the lady there reminds me of my ex!”
To be honest I had absolutely no difficulty in generating the above flow of ‘Background voices’ from my memories of focus groups. I could have continued to write down many more. The important thing is to notice that these are all Projections – mental states that arise from a sense that: ‘there is danger here, what shall I do about it?’ Some of them are anticipatory Projections – being stimulated by guilt or anxiety that you’re not up-to-date or engaged with the project sufficiently. Others seem to arise more directly as Projections based on interpretations of who is there and what is happening in the room. Notice and describe your own versions.
They are, what’s more, perfectly natural thoughts. You are being paid to do this, you have made promises or commitments to your sponsor, you may be observed by hidden viewers who have their own Background agenda, the topic may seem slight or technical or dull, the recruiting may be faulty or unrepresentative. Any or all of these things might be deemed your fault. If some members of your audience are against doing the project they will be projecting problems and faults onto the situation anyway. You may be easier to ‘kill’ than their favourite copy-lines!
From the outside you may look calm, relaxed, confident, cool and collected but I guarantee you that these Background voices will be present. If you don’t even notice them, then they are running the show unconsciously. Make no mistake about it, this is a stressful situation – and one in which you must not show that you are stressed. You have to act grown up and as if you know what you’re doing!
Notice how you’re feeling reading this if you are a moderator. Don’t you wish all that ‘negative ***t would just go away?
So what can you do???
Golden Rule One:
“Before you can moderate anybody else – you need to moderate yourself!”
How do you do this?
Start by noticing your background voice. Notice what it is saying/feeling. What tone of voice does it speak in? What associations do you have with that tone?
Don’t try to stop your Voice. Listen to it, I guarantee that it will run out of steam after a while! It’s natural to be nervous when you face uncertainty.
If it persists tell your story of this project to yourself. How did you come into it? What are the events and feelings that lead up to today? Then, notice that your story seems to suggest certain inevitable consequences – you’ll mess up the group, nothing important will come out, you’ll get stuck in the analysis, the recruiting will be all wrong, the videos won’t work, all of the above. These thoughts are absolutely no different from the kind of concerns that anyone about to embark on a high level of performance has. But they are just catastrophic fantasies. If you weren’t nervous, you wouldn’t be alive to the project.
Own your projections – see reality. Do this in the group by noticing your assessments and judgments of the people present, your voices about any folk who might be ‘viewing’, your judgments of the flow of topics and conversation. Be alive to all of these being an integral part of your moderating experience.
Share the voices or biases that persist with a colleague or client or someone you can trust, even if you have to edit the tale a bit not to seem too paralysed or neurotic! The point is that anything you resist persists and you need to get it out into the open where it can’t undermine you from within. There will be particularly frequent and troubling Background thoughts and beliefs that pop up. They will be based more on your childhood experiences in groups (at home, at school, with mates etc.) than on what is happening here and now.
Notice what your ‘Governing Variables’ in the Background are. What do you believe about yourself in terms of the impact you have on others, or the manner that you conduct yourself in public semi-structured situations
Golden Rule Two:
“You cannot be unbiased! What you can do is know your biases. Know thyself as the Greek bloke said.”
Please don’t waste time trying to make yourself a ‘blank sheet’. If you make yourself flat, it will almost certainly have the effect of flattening your groups. If you create too much silent presence people will become inhibited by your lack of affect and acknowledgment. You are the leader of the room; people will copy you whether they admit to it or not.
Golden Rule Three:
“Create space within yourself to allow others to make an impact and to be known by you!”
You can begin to see how in the presence of your own Background voice and all the details you need to attend to in the process, finding the space to let others in might not be as straightforward as it seems. Just because you are sitting there quietly, it doesn’t mean that you are allowing others in. You might be simply in the thrall of your demons!
You need to create this space and we do this by what we call ‘Accurate Empathy’. This process is one of those taught in the Facilitation module of our Advanced Practitioner’s Course, but in essence it means conducting a go-round in the opening of the group where people are invited to introduce themselves in terms of something that is important to them at the moment. Once they have spoken, it is your job as moderator to summarise and reflect back to them as clearly and non-judgmentally as you can what you heard them say. You will find your own form of words but you might try:
“Thank you, I heard you say that…(make a summary of what you heard).”
“Thank you, if I can summarise what I heard….is that right?”
“Welcome to the group, if I can recap on what I heard you say, it’s…”
If you do this, in spite of the Background voice and all the pressure to get on with the Brief, your people will arrive and so will you. You will be a big step further in making contact and creating an atmosphere of authentic, genuine value in speaking and listening
We have used Reframing as a tool many times over the years and I remain interested in new examples that I hear about which strike me as useful. Today I heard from my wife about a Community Psychology Group in Newcastle. One of its members, Joel Yoelli, has come up with a fascinating reframe using the idea of Accidents.
In brief, there is a growing tendency for vehicle accident victims to receive some form of psychological therapy as part of their recovery. We know that CBT and EDMR and other therapies can be effective at lessening the grip of trauma from car crashes and the like.
Joel has neatly extended this ‘accident’ metaphor from accidents with vehicles to accidents with people. The idea is that people are traumatised by accidents with people just as they may be by physical collisions. I think its really helpful.
Alex’s Salmond’s proposed referendum question – “Do you agree that Scotland should be an independent country?” – is hopelessly biased because it is asking people to positively agree, not to choose from neutral options. It is well established in countless studies (Solomon Asch’s is the classic) that humans prefer to agree and say ‘Yes’ rather than disagree and say ‘No’. Mr Salmond’s question fits into this bias beautifully as it requires a ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ answer.
Saying ‘No’ can make us seem negative and confrontational and that is risky.
A neutral question would contain two choices: “Should Scotland remain within the UK?” and “Should Scotland be an independent country?” with a box against each. The voter would be invited to put a cross against one or the other. To preserve even greater neutrality, you could have a third box which offered ‘Neither of the above” for those who did not know or wished to abstain.
[Adapted with thanks to Robert Henderson, London]
Can you keep the warm-up down to 5 minutes?
How many times did I hear that request? It is one of the most common misunderstandings of group process to assume that you can cut the warm-up to the briefest of introductions and then proceed with your topic guide as if your participants are really there!
If you were sitting in a group of strangers in an unfamiliar setting about to embark upon an encounter that you hadn’t seen the agenda for, how much of yourself would you have readily available to put on show?
I would be pretty scared, at the very least nervous, and cautious about coming forward. If I were a participant, quickly I would appraise the moderator – the person in charge – and then my fellow members, looking for a friendly or attractive face, decide a strategy (“I’ll take my turn but not go first/make a joke whenever I can/talk about my kids/try to figure out what they really want/look at my knees/feet/coffee/play with my mobile/fiddle with my collar.”)
A whole bunch of displacement activities and mild evasions. Keeping most of themselves hidden. Avoiding awkward silences but not breaking any boundaries or norms.
Into this shy, nervous, occasionally impulsive gathering you must start to ask the questions you have agreed with your client – who may be watching you, while talking to friends and colleagues (about you?) behind the glass – with a glass of wine in hand.
Because it is so unregulated, so lacking in encouragement and invitation to come forward in that first few minutes, it is quite usual that one group member is more outgoing and forward than the others and gets the approval of the moderator for livening things up in these early moments. 30 minutes later this forward person has become a ‘dominant respondent’ and won’t shut up. Dominant respondents are only 10% driven by dispositional factors: the other 90% is the result of poor group process.
If you do the first twenty minutes differently you will never be bothered by dominant respondents again – or even if the odd unquenchable tongue-wagger shows up – you’ll know exactly what to do. See the Top Tip 10 Next Week.
Self Consciousness – and why it matters to insight seekers
We are very different when gripped by emotion from times when reason dominates.
Most of us go to considerable lengths to present a reasonable – and reasoning – self to others. Special circumstances for allowing emotion and unreason to dominate are available but carefully boundaried – sports fans in all their regalia, music concerts, services and rituals which mark transitions or passing on.
The tool we use to govern and monitor this presentation of ourselves in everyday life is self-awareness.
There is a uniquely human form of self-awareness called self-consciousness. This is the basis of our capacity both to fit in with others and cultural norms, but also to transcend the immediate situation and live in terms of the possible.
This in turn constitutes the basis of psychological freedom. It means that the future is not the past, but a place of possibility.
Self-consciousness arises as we start to distinguish ourselves from others in infancy and is increased when we acquire ‘theory of mind’ – the knowledge that other people are conscious too and that their worlds might be similar to ours in some respects but different in others. As we grow in years self-consciousness is moderated by cultural norms and lessons we are taught by experience and education.
By the time we are adults we have a veritable dictionary of modes or practices that we use to moderate the self we display. We continually update this dictionary if we are smart, but may choose to become ‘fixed in our ways’ either as a conscious strategy or as an unconscious defence against disappointment.
You will have your own opinion of how you are seen by others. The way you are perceived may also vary between the different groups you find yourself in. You might be the life and soul of the party at home, yet very quiet among strangers. You might make your workmates laugh ‘til they cry, or be someone who pursues their work quietly. You may have all these characteristics yet play them differently from time to time.
The important point is that self-consciousness is the filter through which everything you do, say and feel is passed and moderated. There is hardly a moment, except when securely alone in the most intimate parts of our homes, that we are free from this filter: ‘what will they think of me if I do or say that?’
For the insight seeker, this applies to all meetings and encounters where you are in search of insight. Everyone has their filters in place – especially among a group of relative strangers, where you do not know your status or have control of the agenda. This is a recipe for caution and carefulness.
It is this fact, that we are all already moderated by self-consciousness that has led us to create micro-cultures where the standard norms do not apply when we want to gain insights. It has also made us quite suspicious of attempts to standardize, stereotype or assign traits to people. People are deciding their comportment based on norms, culture and minimizing risk or maximizing effectiveness. It may not reflect their true desires or intentions at all! We are all actors.
This text is downloadable as a pdf here: Self-Consciousness
Whatever you think of Tony Blair, in terms of technique the work we did for him in 2005 was a unique piece of insight work. So much so in fact that this work with its innovations in understanding the use of personality in political markets has made its way into the American Annals of Political Science and – even in the UK where Blair has been demonised – the paper was nominated for Best Paper at the MRS Conference, 2006.
People have short memories and have forgotten that 54% of us supported military action in Iraq in 2003. There is a very British tradition of gung-ho militarism that tends to fade as the real life-and-death consequences of war play out on our screens and papers. We are still not averse to the odd bit of Johnny Foreigner bashing provided we can convince ourselves that right is on our side.
My purpose in making this paper available here is not to condone or castigate Blair and his administration. It is to make the insight work that helped him recover his standing in the run-up to the 2005 election available to students of qualitative technique – particularly Two-Chair work which, under Nicky’s direction – was fundamental to this project. As far as I know it has never been used on a national issue, before or since.
Download the Paper here: Reconnecting the Prime Minister, 2005
Treat yourself to a book by this eloquent and deeply human man! His contribution was primarily as a thinker - drawing together political (Marx), psychoanalytic (Freud), theological and sociological ideas. Has an interest in the economic and cultural roots of personality – not just the biological and personal (c.f. Freud). Very close to being an ‘existentialist’. Respectful yet critical of Freud, whose thinking he regarded as contradictory and limiting. I am indebted to Nicky Forsythe for her brilliant summary of this complex thinker, below:
Fromm’s key ideas are:
the importance of freedom of will and independent action:
- using our own reason to establish values rather than adhering mindlessly to received values
- he believes we are hugely influenced by our class, culture, biology and personal history BUT we have the capacity to transcend these influences. Did not believe in determinism, which sets him apart from both instinctivists like Freud and positivists like the behaviourists
with freedom comes uncertainty, isolation, alienation and bewilderment. We are inclined to avoid these through one of three means:
- authoritarianism – doing what we are told by a person/system
- automaton conformity – merging with the prevailing mores of our society; adopting conventions – e.g. being a ‘fashion victim’ which is a horizontal counterpart to authoritarianism
- destructiveness – attempting to eliminate others – or yourself
The kind of tactic we use depends on our family culture. He talks about three kinds of families:
symbiotic families where some members of the family are ‘swallowed up’ by other members – typically this takes the form of children becoming the reflection of their parents’ wishes. This happens a lot with girls in traditional societies
- leads to the authoritarian escape
withdrawing families – Type 1 a more recent type which has evolved in Northern Europe over last 200 years. These families are prevalent wherever merchants became an important layer of society – essentially they are the bourgeousie
- parents very demanding of children
- perfectionism – living by the rules – is encouraged
- children expected to succeed & meet high standards
- leads to destructive escape – this is internalised until circumstances like war permit its release. We saw an outburst of children’s reaction to these pressures in the outburst of destructiveness in the recent London riots. It is clear that many of those taking part could not live according to these pressures & ideals
withdrawing families – Type 2 the modern family where children are considered the ‘equals’ of parents; parents want to be their kids’ buddies; children turn to peers for their values. The ‘modern, shallow, TV family’
- leads to automaton conformity
Fromm believes in what he calls the ‘social unconscious’ – unwritten rules dictated by class and culture which affect the way we think and behave. We aren’t even aware of these influences and may think we’re acting according to our free will when we aren’t. He identifies 5 orientations within this social unconscious:
- Receptive orientation. People who expect to receive what they need and are passive in their orientation. People with this orientation are found at the bottom of any society: slaves, serfs, welfare families. We might call this ‘benefits culture’. On the positive side they are accepting and optimistic; on the negative they are submissive and wishful.
- Exploitative orientation. People who expect to take what they need through coercion. Prevalent in upper classes – aristocracy, colonial powers. On the positive side, assertive, proactive. On the negative side, aggressive, seductive, coercive.
- Hoarding orientation. The emphasis here is on accumulating and keeping. This orientation is prevalent amongst the bourgeousie/middle classes and is exemplified by the Protestant Work Ethic. On the positive side, these people are economical, prudent and practical. On the negative side they are stingy and unimaginative.
- Marketing orientation. This is the orientation of modern society. The emphasis is on selling. A big emphasis on packaging and advertising. Preoccupation with things looking good – my family, job, education. On the positive side, this encourages sociability, purposefulness, being enterprising. On the negative side it gives rise to shallow, amoral, childish thinking and behaviour.
- Productive orientation. This is the ‘healthy’ one! These people do not shirk from freedom and responsibility. They value being rather than (as in all the other orientations) having. In the productive orientation you are defined by your actions not by what you have, you prefer reason to rules and freedom to conformity.
You can download a pdf of this summary here: Psychology on a Page 10: Fromm
With the previous two posts on Gestalt and Rogers I have started to focus in on the psychologists who have most influence on my contemporary thinking and practice. Another such is Otto Rank, the first non-medical practitioner of psycho-analysis.
Like many of Freud’s followers, Rank’s perspective on our nature and the developmental steps that shaped it differed from Freud’s – and on a topic that was central to Freud, the importance of the Oedipal Conflict in shaping our personality.
Rank believed that the influence of early experience made its impact long before the Oedipal period (usually said to last from 3 to 6 years). Rank cited the Birth Trauma as the experience that did most to shape our character. The essential effect of birth was, to Rank’s mind, the creation of something he called separation anxiety, the shadow of which followed us throughout life:
“Life in itself is a mere succession of separations. Beginning with birth, going through several weaning periods and the development of the individual personality, and finally culminating in death – which represents the final separation.”
We are then, to suffer ‘separation anxiety’ from birth against which we struggle by seeking to merge with or relate to others. This anxiety takes shape as a creative tension throughout life around whether to seek new untried paths or to follow tried and tested routes (e.g. products we’ve bought before) or simply to mimic others.
To summarise, we can reach a sense in Rank’s early thoughts of human life lived between the competing desires, on the one hand to separate, to individuate, while on the other to merge and surrender to the whole, to fall into the arms of another or our community. The point is that both these desires are present in the moment. This also translates to an orientation to time and process:
‘…the fear of both going forward and of going backward”
(Rank, 1929–31, p. 124).
When we translate this thinking into work and everyday life we can sense this intra-personal dilemma for ourselves, almost without exception in any moment of doubt or anxiety. Shall I go forward or backwards here – adopt a progressive approach or rely on ideas I have used before? Shall I go it alone or band together with others for support? At any moment then, in any choice, the creative tension between merging (or repeating known patterns) and individuating (striking out on a new path) must be a core influence on personal, professional and consumer decisions. For me it is vital that we encourage participants to explore the role of goods, services and brands in negotiating these issues – and arrive at a considered appraisal of where the community stands in weighing the ‘individuating’ or separating, versus ‘merging’ or joining properties of any brand now and in future.
I have visualized this tension here, which will appear if you click on this link: Creative Tension, after Rank
You can download a pdf of this summary here: Psychology on a Page 9: Rank
The core idea of Gestalt psychology is that a whole or ‘gestalt’ is perceptually primary rather than a secondary quality that emerges from its parts. This ‘whole’ seems to represent the innate way in which we experience things. Related to our Course and to our approach to psychology generally is the idea that phenomena or objects are perceived as ‘figure’ and ‘ground’. Hence the classic illustration above:
Which do you see first, the vase or the faces?
This is a similar principle to that of Foreground & Background that we use to illuminate the overt and covert parts of everyday consciousness in our practice and Courses. The important thing for us is that Background and Foreground do not exist independently of each other. They are in constant relationship and together form what the Gestaltists called a ‘Weltanschauung’ or world-view. This ‘Weltanschauung’ forms the blueprint for our actions. As Carl Rogers neatly puts it: “Behaviour is basically the goal-directed attempt of the organism to satisfy its needs as experienced, in the field as perceived.”
You can see immediately that any inquiry hoping to lead to an understanding or prediction of our actions – if it fails to account for the existence of Foreground and Background – and their interplay – is likely to be inaccurate and unreliable, simply because it fails to apprehend the reality of the way we experience the world.
So, creating an inquiry process that allows the emergence of Foreground & Background is crucial. Next, we need to check the prominence of aspects of these two parts – we need to ask which is critical in driving behaviour in any given circumsatnces? This notion of prominence bears relation to the Behavioural Economists’ idea of Choice Architecture: the similarity is the idea of a way in which perceptions are arranged that leads to preferences.
The ‘Gestalt’ is not an easy thing to explain: everyone experiences the beauty of a summer evening, or the wonder of winter snow. But these things are not easy to report or take notes on. Somehow, ‘white flakes falling’ doesn’t do it justice – even though it is accurate in a sense.
The rush to generalisation is common across many fields of inquiry: it simplifies the world and gives an impression that you know the facts. An illustration is a famous joke made in earlier days by psychoanalysts about their clients: it goes: “If they are early, they’re anxious; if on time, they’re obsessional; and if they’re late, they’re hostile.”
It is easy to sneer at these kinds of statements and claim not to be party to them, but most of our attempts to explain or understand run the risk of making too simplistic generalisations about things that are related in a complex manner. Starting with the whole rather than the parts often leads to a more realistic solution.
Here is a pdf: Psychology on a Page: Gestalt
There is simply no place for the dominant respondent in a well facilitated group. It shouldn’t happen. But it does. The reason it happens is due to many things:
- In the first minutes of the group, people are nervous – some react by keeping quiet, others by ‘blurting’. It is quite usual that one group member is more outgoing and forward than others. If the moderator does not deal with this immediately, it may be interpreted by the talkative one – and the group itself – as tacit acceptance that this person will occupy first place in the pecking order and will speak first on every occasion. These things happen in seconds at the start of a group.
- Another reason is that forming procedures have not been handled right. Under pressure from the brief, it is far too common to barge straight into the topic. Very often the product, service or advertising makes it into the room before the people!
- Due to the lack of invitation and participation, a democratic level playing field has not been created. No emphasis has been put on the importance of including all views in the conversation and that the moderator will support and seek out anyone trapped in silence by nerves or shyness. Even if the moderator has done a two-minute spiel, talking about how important everyone is – he has not demonstrated that – and respondents will respond to what he does, not what he says.
- Another factor is the lack of listening – and lack of attention to listening in the group. If people think that their job is to speak, then those who are interested in power and status will be hard to stop – after all that seems to be the way Brownie Points are gained here. Not only that, people will not actively listen to others. They will simply wait for their turn to speak. This can be overcome by doing an introduction process in which everyone has to introduce someone else, after listening to them in a paired conversation for a few moments.
- Social loafing is common in focus groups. Make no mistake, your participants know they are being paid for their time. There is a professional transaction underlying their attendance. Some people like to do as little as possible for their money! Some moderators too!
- Production blocking is another regular feature and can be heightened by verbose types. Some quieter members will feel ‘blocked’ by the interruptions and rapidity of the responses from the eager, talkative members. This will drive them further into the background and they may need the moderator’s support in coming forward.
- Groups that are too topic focused and full of questions will lack affect (emotional depth). Such groups are hard to listen to for everyone, energy flags, responses become routine, process dominates and everyone wants to get to the end. In these circumstances a group can feel grateful to a dominant mouthpiece – at least he keeps the thing going! Make sure activities & pace are varied and that people get to be themselves in several different ways during the group.
- A group member might feel that they have genuine, unique, in-depth experience or knowledge of your topic. You have to make a judgment call on whether to allow this kind of ‘dominance’ – based as it is on larger capability. It will have effects on the feelings of the other members, but you can ameliorate these by thanking them for their listening and asking for their input immediately afterwards.
How to Set Up the Group
Introduce yourself NOT THE TOPIC, and let the group members know that you will ensure fairness, equality of opportunity and inclusion in the session. At this point people should precede products! If you are nervous about dominant respondents – or have an anxious client behind the mirror who worries about this – say something like: “I am keen to hear from all of you and will challenge you if you take up more than your share of space to an extent that prevents others. I understand that people get carried away and I will step in if that happens too much. I won’t allow bullying or overtalking or cutting off other people’s heads to make yourself look taller.”
Next you need a go round to give everyone an equal opening to speak – preferably on a subject that is important to them – like ‘what is the biggest thing in your life at the moment’ – rather than small talk about products or usage. This ensures that they arrive in the room – as themselves, not ‘users’ or ‘lapsed users’ or ‘potential users’.
Here is an example, following on from the remarks above:
“Having said that, I do want you to feel free to share your thoughts and feelings and for us all to have the chance. Let’s practice now, by introducing ourselves to the group by talking about something that’s very much on your mind today. It doesn’t have to be about the commercial topic, I’ll brief you on that in a moment. I will go first to give you an example of the kind of thing I mean.
Then the moderator introduces h/herself at the level that h/she wishes other people to share themselves. Model the kind of behaviour that you want in the group. You are the leader, others will follow you. Being a table rasa (blank observer) will frighten people and flatten your group. Also, make no mistake about it, you have a duty of care to these people.
Once people have brought themselves to the room via their introductions you should set the Primary Task: ‘we are here this evening to….’ And give the group some information about the activities and styles of work you anticipate. Also give them reassurance about time. ‘We will end at…’ They will be worrying about it even if you are not.
Now you’re ready to go. It is twenty minutes or so into the session. Rock on.
In the second video on Action Techniques we show the ‘Blindfold Game’. This is another example of the techniques we will be teaching people how to design and use on our Advanced Qualitative Course.
The point is that in the information age it’s possible to be just as in the dark as at other times. People are so dependent on the Internet & call centres for information that it can be difficult to find out what other user’s experiences are really like. It’s easy to forget that websites and call centres are biased in the sellers interest, and that in high-cost services like insurance, healthcare or education, processes are not just complicated, they are complex because they rely on so many individual elements coming together over time. Thus predictability and reliability are hard to ensure – they can only be guaranteed by putting yourself in customer’s shoes to notice the effects that different circumstances have on customers. Then you can build services to allow or compensate for them. This is particularly important in services that deal with misfortune, like insurance and healthcare. In education you can witness each year the massive ‘clean-up’ operation – known as Clearing – that swings into action due to misfortune in students A level performance.
Action Techniques like the Blindfold Game help to train staff to grasp the bigger picture of customer experiences and what it takes to serve them.
In our second look at the unconscious mind for insight workers we think about a human being, full of vulnerabilities – as well as potentials – and ask ourselves what role would make sense for an unconscious mind in such a creature?
Above all, you would want to preserve its life, its existence. This must be a primary process for without this life there can be no person. This simple fact shapes an unconscious mind that, whatever else it might come up with, must be conservative, attracted to reliable solutions, routes and routines. Thus the unconscious favours things it has ‘seen’ before, it favours the usual route to work, the brand of biscuits you’ve already tried, the people you know and the tried and tested idea. This explains how you can do familiar things like driving home without thinking.
It was under the influence of Jung (see here: Psychology on a Page 2: Jung) that our notion of the unconscious took a turn towards the mystical, ephemeral & unknowable, while at the same time the Behaviourists (see here: Psychology on a Page 4: Behaviourism) proposed an unconscious that was animalistic, instinctive and unknowable in a different way. I believe both of these ideas are inaccurate to a considerable degree (though contain ‘grains of truth’ that we will explore further) and have created a popular idea of the unconscious an unreachable, impenetrable place – when in reality it is in view at every moment.
My own view is that the unconscious is made up of symbols, all of which are represented in language (for language is after all the structure of thinking as well as of communication). Its building blocks are words and its structure is grammatical. As we shall see over the next posts, these words are not simply sounds, but each one is attached to an image, a set of associations – and the uncomfortable examples of these are repressed or hidden from the view of others and ourselves.
The results of the experiments described in the link below are unsurprising if you’re following these posts about how the unconscious mind operates.
The next time your great idea at work elicits silence or eye rolls, it might pay to think about this reaction. This research indicates that people don’t know what a creative idea looks like and that creativity, hailed as a positive change agent, actually makes people squirm. We found this out very early on in our co-creation work and from this generated an orientation approach that would help participants overcome their unconscious rejection of novelty. You must model and adapt such a process if you don’t want the ideas you are evaluating or generating to be automatically rejected!
Many of us have formed the impression that the unconscious is deep below the surface, invisible, unknowable, out-of-reach – a bit like the huge mass beneath the water in the picture.
This is simply untrue. It is present with us, intruding, dancing in and out of sight every moment of the day (and night!)
It is visible in body language, gestures, tone of voice – as we all know from trying to figure out what others mean/intend towards us. But it is also present in language, all of the time in virtually every sentence or phrase we speak.
The relationship between the conscious and unconscious is much more like that of two voices, a foreground voice (consciousness) and a background (unconscious). This is clearly illustrated in the moebius strip you will find here: Foreground and Background in communication
So how do we get in touch with it in an active way that engages the group?
You can do this early in a session like a meeting or focus group by speaking about the idea of foreground and background voices – where the background is both the little voice ‘speaking’ in our heads and the significance that we attach to ordinary statements without realising it – while the foreground is what actually gets said.
So let’s say you ask your group members to go around telling each other their names and one fact about themselves. Let’s imagine two responses you might get:
“Hello, my name’s Ian…and I love walking!”
“Hi, I’m Marie and I’m into fashion, big time!”
These are terribly short and apparently small pieces of information. However, they are much more potentially revealing of unconscious processes than at first meets the eye. This is because before choosing the topic of walking or fashion, Ian & Marie will have momentarily rehearsed a whole set of other things they might have said: e.g. ‘I love home-cooking’, or ‘I have more colds than anyone I know’ and so on. The key point is that they chose the things they did – out of all the things they could have said – in order to present something about themselves that they wanted others to be conscious of. To do this not only have they deleted some things they might say, but they are hoping to evoke certain associations and popular meanings by their choices. However, they may hardly be conscious of what they’re doing themselves, but the group will ‘hear’ both the words and some aspect of the unconscious intention.
So, to touch or tap the unconscious, the interesting follow up remark is not: “Tell us what you like about walking/fashion.” BUT: “of all the things you might have said to this group of people, what made you choose walking/fashion?”
Allow that it might not have been a deep reason, or even if it was it may be too early to reveal it in an introduction, but what you have done by asking this is to bring into the foreground the presence of the background – and show how it shapes and determines what we say in line with our motivations and wishes. It is also possible that Ian & Marie may have chosen this information in order to avoid other, less comfortable, less normal tit-bits. So, after checking in with Ian & Marie with “of all the things etc.” ask the next two group members, “I’d be really interested to hear one of the selections that came up in your mind that you chose not to say to the group.”
Be sure to normalize and praise every piece of information yielded and to enforce safety and acceptance in the group so that no-one is shamed or sneered at, and then go on to ask the next two members: “We’ve gone this far, it’d be interesting to ask you to share one of the things you would have been more reluctant to put out into the group. Are you willing to have a go at that?”
In this way, even in the first 10 minutes of our session we are working with background unconscious material and bringing it to light in an interesting and innocuous fashion. I guarantee that your group will be fascinated by this style of working, and that you have already created permission to delve into the unconscious intentions of the group at any time along the way – providing that you update the group’s permission and deal sensitively with the material.
This is the first in a series of videos that show more dynamic (active & expressive) techniques in action. On our Advanced Qualitative Course you can find out how & when and how to set up Tantrum and other Action Techniques in a group session.
Clearly, it is not easy to do this kind of thing in a crowded, over-furnished fake sitting room, such as you find in the typical viewing facility or recruiters home. But if you have chosen a setting for your group that will allow more expressive, free-form work, this is a wonderful exercise for unleashing desires…often revealing deep unmet needs.
The exercise in the film took place among a group of 70 participants and as you can see, everyone is having a go in their own way. It was this exercise that produced the unreasonable desire to “travel the whole journey on a magic carpet, or failing that, in a bed.” The project was British Airway’s 21st Century Flying innovation workshop, involving passengers and staff.
In 1997 this seemed impossible, but now you can take a comfortable limo to the airport with Virgin Upper Class, not quite a bed but the next best thing and nearly every major airline has fully flat beds in business class. Unthinkable at the time, but Tantrum helped it emerge into the world!
I am very proud of the difference that these innovations have made to countless journeys.
Have you got a couple of seconds? Have a look at the pictures above. They are all designed to capture or hook your attention.
I hope one of those grabbed you. By the way, it does not matter if they turned you on or off – what I’m trying to do is stimulate your fast archaic loop for processing that bypasses the cortex (which you must have returned to if you’re still reading!) and engages the autonomic nervous system – the one that controls heart-rate, pulse, feelings…more instinctive, automatic processes if you like.
The point here is that by engaging this by-pass we put your emotions more in control of your responses. Your feelings are now plugged directly into the stimulus – and will be influential in generating a response. That’s why sex sells. As does the power of ‘free’ (see Dan Ariely’s, Predictably Irrational). Nowadays there are more and more books that speak about the huge role of the unconscious in driving decisions, choices and behaviour. Here are links to just two of them:
In an era of shorter attention spans, where unconscious process are often in the driving seat, the hook becomes an all-important mechanism. The hook is the means by which you attract attention it is also the gateway to sustaining attention. In the images above the third ‘hook’ – the falling man picture – is designed to create an element of surprise and wonder – what will happen to the falling man? It also creates a dilemma and the mind does not like unresolved dilemmas, so is tempted to follow them through to resolution – and does this through active fantasy, “I wonder what happened to that guy?”
So in a world that is increasingly full of information, capturing attention is critical. It is inevitable that as the amount of information grows what will decline is the amount of attention given to any particular piece – so you need to know what captures people’s attention and why.
The hook is the most powerful device used in television programming and advertising to gain and sustain the viewer’s attention. In the hands of a master like Jimmy McGovern (who writes ‘gritty’, realistic British drama), there is a clear formula – which in condensed form also applies to television advertising and online content. This formula is not expressed anywhere as a theorem, but in reviewing the most successful TV dramas and commercials of the last twenty years I have noticed that the ‘hook’ must be employed within five minutes of starting the programme – within seconds if it is a commercial.
There are several types of hook and they vary between the sensory hooks that seize our attention because they are outside of normal experience, and the underlying deeper motive or part of us that the lure attempts to hook. We will deal with three stimulus variants first:
1. The shock – this is usually some quite spectacular or unexpected event, like the world falling asleep in FastForward, the battle on the beaches in the first minutes of Saving Private Ryan or a killing in a crime show. The engaging nature of the shock results from the adrenalin rush or excitement that it causes. In commercials, shocks are less serious, more bizarre or unreal, like the city-wide roller-coaster in the Barclaycard Contactless commercial or the flash mobs in airports or stations in the T-mobile campaign. The shock both hooks you and stimulates your adrenalin which in turn focuses your attention.
2. The puzzle. It is usual for the shock to give rise to the puzzle – and for the puzzle to be the means by which attention is sustained. Puzzles leave the watcher wondering – what, why, who, how – questions that demand resolution. It is the success of these elements in holding our attention – the shock leading into the puzzle, that make crime shows the world’s most popular entertainment.
Two interesting forms of puzzle that have contemporary value are
- The technological puzzle – a conundrum that can only be resolved using scientific and technological procedures of the highest order – many of us are endlessly tinkering with these as we try to improve our skills in surfing, streaming, downloading etc. This type of puzzle is the basis of the CSI television series.
- The paradox – here the essential hook lies in the contradiction between truth and falsity – an obvious delight for the participant, providing the paradox is ultimately resolved. What is the answer? Which are legitimate clues, which red-herrings?
3. The Competition. Who will win? Who will be best? How would I do facing these tests? Could I beat these people? Nowadays, the reality TV shows – like X Factor – in which people start out as beginners and are rapidly transformed into ‘stars’ draw the highest audiences of any TV show in the land. As you will notice as you read below, the competition plays straight into both regressive (Play) and progressive (Power) motives.
Now coming onto the deeper motivations, there are four main areas where things hook us:
1. Seduction – something is so attractive and desirable that you are magnetised and held in its sway. This can be a person, a product or an idea. It’s easiest when its straightforward sexual attraction, but you will notice that many other things are either associated with sex or presented in such style that they seem sensual. Lighting and camerawork can make a car look sleek, cool and sexy.
2. Power – the most progressive hooking mechanism is the suggestion that you will be in some way increased should you buy the product or service. It will enhance your image, your speed, your appearance, your prestige or status. Since so much of our society is preoccupied with status and standing, having more power – even if only by association – is no mean thing.
3. Comfort – more regressive in approach, these hooks usually rely upon memory or familiarity, prior knowledge or interest. Sentimentality is often a key ingredient. We all have our favourites, things we are drawn to automatically – because we are fans, because we have invested in earlier episodes or versions, because there is a lot of hype/media interest, because we know that all our friends are also using or watching the same things. One of the wonderful things about the comfort hook is that it involves minimum effort!
4. Play – again, appealing to the regressive, more childlike part of us are the appeals to play. Often these involve a large component of active fantasy as we can see in commercials for video games or new programmes/movies.
We all inhabit a world where people are increasingly setting out to hook or engage our attention. The consequence of this fight for our minds is that we have engineered increasingly sophisticated defences. The most direct of these is Studied Inattention. Its partner is rebuttal.
Contemporary opinion suggests that marketing and advertising has less power because of the diversification of channels and platforms. My own view is that this is often an excuse for work that has a low or inaccurate appreciation of hooks and/or motivations.
Please click on the thumbnail to watch the video.
As the co-creative work for airlines with passengers and staff increased in the late nineties I was proud and delighted to be asked by Singapore Airlines to help with passenger and crew co-creation for the cabin of the new A380.
In the video you can see passengers speaking about their desire for a seat and a bed. Underlying this were several deeper desires. The first we expressed in our analysis as the wish for a ‘gradient of intimacy’ so that your space on the aircraft, like your space at home would progress from public to private areas. Also under the guise of ‘configurability’ (one of the consistent customer wishes for their seat/space on board) we uncovered the three essential ‘ways of being’ that passengers adopted in long-haul flying – you can think of these as ‘office’, ‘restaurant’ and ‘couch’, or more ergonomically as work, rest and play. These suites add a fourth zone, the most intimate – or bedroom – to the configuration.
As the airline gathered confidence after the delayed maiden flight of the A380 in 2007, they started to bring the idea of moving from public to private space in your own area alive with copy like: ‘even the most private areas have been created with you in mind…and when you’re ready to sleep a fully flat bed equipped with a flush mattress appears’ – thus acknowledging passengers desires for a transition from a seating environment to a separate sleeping space – and subtly hinting that this bed is not the seat flattened out with all its crevices beneath you! You will see this executed in a more confident in-house video in the second of SIA’s promotional films in the short clip.
It came to pass that Big Talk – our co-creation method – found particular acceptance in the ‘imagibuilding’ of passenger experiences in the air. I will post more videos of passengers’ visions shortly.
Thanks are due here to Mac Andrews and Nicky Forsythe, my brilliant partners in all of the early co-creation programmes. Couldn’t have done it without you guys!
Wendy’s wonderfully clear and intriguing introduction to Behavioural Economics. Well worth a view!
You will find a link to Wendy’s site on the right hand side of this page. I will be publishing my own take on Behavioural Economics during the next weeks.
Here is a review of our Brand Research Conference day on June 9th. Written by Judie Lannon, it is clear and informative as she always is. If you’re interested in the latest in brand research have a look and I’m sure the speakers would love to hear from you.
Some thoughts on the ethics of market research and where I stand.
This is a pigeon in a Skinner Box. These were the kinds of boxes used in the early behaviourist experiments where the rules of Stimulus > Reward and reinforcement schedules were worked out. Something you may not notice and which has got conveniently forgotten is that this pigeon is standing on a grid through which electric shocks can be administered. Yes, in early days Behaviourism was as interested in punishment as reward. Could you get more work from reward or punishment or from a cunning mixture? There has always been a chilling lack of compassion behind this kind of ‘investigation’. Who knows to what ends unscrupulous people might put the insights from this kind of thing.
Lest we forget, there is an ethical issue underlying the use of control procedures to do experiments on living creatures. You would not be able to use these Skinner Boxes now without producing public outcry. Nonetheless there is a growth in the attempts to use controlled experiments with matched samples on human subjects. The most common of these are the Random Controlled Trials of pharmaceutical development, where one sub-group is given the new medicine while the others get a placebo or an existing remedy.
Should the new medicine prove helpful or harmful, it could be advantageous or disastrous to be in the experimental rather than the control group. But you do not know which you are in when you sign up for the trial – or whether the people running the trial will let you know if there are problems or benefits emerging. If it is a drug for treatment of Stage 4 cancer, will they switch you to the new medicine should it work to grant you extra months of life? Even if they don’t do it during the trial, will they give it to you when it is approved for being willing to take the risk? Will they hell.
For these sorts of reasons, it becomes more difficult to recruit samples for RCT’s and more and more unemployed, vulnerable and desperate people take part – and more trials are done in countries where regulation is lax, help is cheap or the press uninterested. In defence of RCT’s you can argue that they are a potential step along the way to better health for human beings.
What’s this got to do with market research you say? Well, with the new enthusiasm for Behavioural Economics or experimental social psychology as it is properly called, there is a willingness to enroll groups of subjects in controlled tests where one thing is compared to another to see which condition or stimulus produces the desired behaviour (usually purchasing or adoption). Usually you do not inform the ‘respondents’ (MR speak for subjects) of the conditions or variables in the experiment. To some extent these experiments rely upon naïve subjects.
In this and other market research techniques, the treatment of people as experimental subjects is alarming. Another such area is the growth in use of invasive brain scanning technologies like MRI and EEG’s to see which area of the brain ‘lights up’ when we show people a product. My own family has endured more than 30 EEG procedures – and watched the doctors struggle to make sense of them – to the point where the only decipherable readings were obtained from sleep EEG’s (readings done when the subject is asleep). The idea that Market Researchers can ‘read’ these immensely complex encephalograms is frankly, ludicrous.
Common MRI side effects are:
Not to mention the anxiety that naturally accompanies the prospect of exposing your body to huge magnetic fields. I can understand that someone with a suspected tumour might be willing to submit to these procedures, but for the sake of trying to figure out how to optimize packaging or press advertising? Are we really that desperate to make a sale? What about our community and looking out for each other?
We have been here before. Following on from Skinner, social scientists became ready to fabricate conditions under which people could be tested in ever more extreme settings. The Milgram experiments in 1963 famously encouraged people to deliver electric shocks to strangers, following the instructions of ‘experimenters’.
In 1971, in the Zimbardo Prison experiments, students were allocated the roles of prisoners and gaolers, to explore the emergence of evil or brutality:
In this project, so caught up did everyone become in their roles that the experiment had to be abandoned to prevent real damage and lasting harm:
“Playing the roles
It was only when one of his colleagues intervened that the experiment was finally stopped. In total it only lasted six of the planned 14 days. Young men previously found to be pacifists were, in their roles as guards, humiliating and physically assaulting the ‘prisoners’ – some even reported enjoying it. The ‘prisoners’, meanwhile, quickly began to show classic signs of emotional breakdown. Five had to leave the ‘prison’ even before the experiment was prematurely terminated.”
What is my point here?
When you start to think about people as subjects in an experiment or game you quickly lose sight of them as human beings. This leads to what Fromm calls objectification – a state in which people are mere representatives of a larger group of people – a sample. In market research these subjects are objectified as consumers. They show up to your sessions not as Billy and Sally but as users or lapsed users. Often behind a mirror, joking and sneering sit a superior group, representatives of the producers. The viewing room is notorious for disrespectful, mildly drunken behaviour.
You might ask why does big business want to pay for these and other experiments in market research? The answer is that business is endlessly searching for means of control and influence over populations. It wants to find the DNA of choice, it wants to be able to move you irresistibly to its desired end, whether product, investment or service. And it doesn’t much care who you are, only that you comply.
I don’t suggest for a moment that market researchers and business executives are wicked or unscrupulous people. It’s more invidious than that. It is an adoption of investigative standards that is driven by cultural norms. We can do these procedures, we can measure behaviour, map brains, see nerve activity in the clinic or hospital, so why not use them for better business? Everyone else is doing it, so what’s the harm?
The point is surely that their use in clinics is for the benefit of the patient, the intention is to improve his or her well-being. In Market Research the point is to find out how to influence people to sell them stuff. One is surely a noble cause, the other is venal.
I believe there is a better way. That’s why I invented co-creation in 1991. I had had enough of sitting with ‘respondents’ in fake suburban living rooms, I believed in making the agenda open and transparent, the invitation clear and specific – to create together for the betterment of everyone involved. That’s why I don’t like viewing rooms or spying on people for commercial gain. That’s why I won’t lie or pretend to people that things are any way other than they are – because that enrols me in colluding in deception.
Co-creation was not some fancy technique or cool process: it was invented to restore a democratic, consensual, level playing field between producers and their customers. It was developed to use dialogue, empathy and co-invention to excite and engage everyone. My hope was that by standing in each other’s shoes both sides of a potential transaction would become more engaged with the other, become more social, more appreciative of each other. I still cherish that hope, though the re-emergence of the experimenters disguised as Behavioural Economists and the enthusiasm for this kind of experimentation among market researchers scares me silly!
What do people do when they put aside their professional roles? What do you and your mates do on the way home from a match or a party? What level of debate do you usually reach when watching the X Factor? What sells newspapers and magazines?
The answer to all of these is one word: gossip.
We love to chat with no holds barred about the things that piss us off, excite us, amuse us and just intrigue us. Much of this chat is superficially critical – a kind of offloading of judgments, assessments, opinions. But its real role is more profound, it generates a kind of creative commons where everyone’s input is welcome and irreverence rather than compliance rules the roost.
We have, of course in our wisdom, largely banished gossip from focus groups and qualitative research. It threatens to be too irreverent, critical and judgmental and we are worried that members of the public will pour cold water on anything given the chance. Just as you and I do!
Yet in gossip, what we really notice and pay attention to is revealed. Our envy, desire, status anxiety, drivers – both to fight and flee – are all apparent in five minutes gossip and you don’t have to ‘probe’. You only ever really have to probe if people are scared or indifferent – more often the latter than the former in market research.
So, how can you use the Power of Gossip to illuminate your work?
Here’s how. Set up a Gossip Game in the group. Here’s an outline of how I might do it.
“Let’s start with a well-known figure who polarizes opinion. Someone who has both fans and foes. Let’s take Bono of U2. Who is willing to represent him as fans, who as foes? Let’s have a couple of minutes each way. We’ll let the foes go first!”
“OK, we’re talking about salad dressings. I’d like to divide the group into two, four of you to discuss salad dressings as fans for a couple of minutes. The other four to listen and be ready to express your criticism of salad dressings in response to the praise of the fans. Don’t worry fans, you’ll get a chance to get your own back on the critics once they’ve done their bit.”
Here’s another method. Print off Mastheads from newspapers like the News of the World or the Sun and invite members of the group working as pairs to write headlines or stories about the product or service as they might appear in the Sun/NOW. They can search Google for images to go with their story. We only need the headline and the first couple of sentences of the story.
The point here is that this is emotional material, there is a freedom to express emotional positions without fear of looking bad or stupid.
The fact is that these may not be committed opinions, but they are social & cultural tropes – and so say a lot about the underlying opinions and judgments we hold. In a way, these games with gossip allow a group to reverse the process whereby they are invited to comment on an endorser or presenter associated with a brand. This kind of endorsement is obviously done to sprinkle stardust on a product, but allowing people to gossip about it will show you your product’s strengths and weaknesses quicker than anything.
We often want to maximize the appeal of the brand/person/service we’re working on. Giving people rational measurements like scales or discussions drives satisficing, not maximizing measures. Gossip is, by its very nature a maximizing activity. Everything gets exaggerated, good and bad – and in the exaggerations the true attachments or problems with the brand lie.
For those interested in the growing use of co-creation, I can genuinely claim to be one of the originators of this method. Since 1991 I’ve been running such sessions for a variety of organisations on different topics. I will post one of the British Airways case histories soon. Our pathway to this technique are described in detail in ‘Breakthrough Zone’, published by Wiley’s in 2003.
If you have the time, here’s a link to a Slideshare presentation I gave to an International Journal of Market Research audience in 2010. There is a sound track to the slides which will play in sync with the presentation. There are a couple of silences in the soundtrack. These last no longer than 30 seconds, and happened while I was doing something to demonstrate points with the live audience.
If you have any questions or would like to know more, get in touch. You are welcome to download the slides and I have copies of the audio track if this is your field or an area where you’re building your skills.
My tip today is: don’t probe or pressurize people to provide reasons or justifications. They’ll just make stuff up to satisfy you. This is known as ‘confabulation’. Instead, take the pressure off, open things up, don’t pursue! How would you like to be ‘probed’. Sounds like the dentist!
To get a better sense of the ways in which we deceive ourselves have a look here: http://www.spring.org.uk/2007/11/10-piercing-insights-into-human-nature.php
I am amazed by the amount of poor and unhelpful process in focus groups – and process that flies in the face of our increasing scientific knowledge of how choices are made. Much of it stems from the early ideas of psychodynamic psychologists like Freud and Jung that the psyche is a bit like an iceberg, with only a little showing on the surface while much is hidden beneath. From this the idea of probing surely emerges, what if we could poke about beneath the surface to find out what’s there?
This leaves a lot of researchers busily seeking tools or techniques to dig deeper. The favourite is the question: “Why?” Unfortunately this is usually both unhelpful and leads to false attributions. We know for sure that people don’t want to appear thoughtless or irrational in front of others, so they make up a reason that satisfies the questioner.
Look at the beautiful iceberg. You could say the white bit represents conscious mind and the larger part beneath the surface the unconscious. It’s true that more and more research shows that much of our decision-making happens automatically, within the unconscious, and so it is important to think about how to reach these more hidden areas. But if you think for a second about how Freud and Jung went about it, they created settings that were as pressure free as possible and just asked people to talk about what came to mind. They did not pressure or probe people, they realised that matters of importance would surface if people were free to raise them in the manner and pace that suited them!
So, my favourite ‘probe’:
“Could you please say some more about that?”
My tip this week is this:
If you are to get the most out of an inquiry or study, become immersed in the phenomenon you are investigating. More particularly, see if you can begin to reflect upon & empathise with the significance that it has in everyday lives. Do this particularly if the product or service you are exploring has little attraction or interest for you in your life.
Everything I have ever worked on has had such significance, it’s just a matter of letting yourself be open to experiencing it. It’s best to start this process long before the fieldwork actually begins. Get yourself some experience of buying, using, chatting about, taking the mick out of, finding some friends who love/hate the thing you are about to explore.
Take this on as a ‘way of being,’ not just a mere data collection exercise. Become someone who is embroiled in the laundry and all its related activities. See if you can take the automobile you’re hired to investigate for a test drive. If it’s an insurance product, get a quote and while you’re doing so, ask what the most useful and the most irritating aspects of that experience are.
Many of the products or services that qualitative researchers are asked to explore are ordinary, everyday things. Such things, although you personally may not use them, constitute significant small acts for their users and it is the researcher’s job to get under the skin of these acts in order to appreciate their weight and significance in the lives of others. Their significance will always have some psychological value too – from products that remind them of their mum or dad to those that offer hope for their children. Things as apparently commonplace and dull as washing powder and toothpaste can command this sort of significance.
It is often in the territory of ‘small significance’ that you will find the clues that can best help your client, whether h/she was prompted by strategic or tactical reasons to do the research.
The key to discovery is letting go. Once you have formed your group or team, you need to set them free on their journey with whatever brief(s) and resources you plan to make available. This need to let go is one reason why I have focused so much on disinhibition in my group work – hoping to let go of my own inhibitions as well as everyone else’s!
Last time I talked about tips for evaluation. This time we’re talking about discovery projects where you are setting out to uncover things that haven’t been found before. Such projects might have innovation as their goal, or to update and catch up with changes in attitude or behavior due to time or new arrivals in the market place.
If you are briefed to discover & innovate, then the diagram below gives you a strong sense of the ideal shape of your research sessions. As you can see the major part of the session is devoted to opening up or divergent thinking which is very different in shape and nature from the kind of control-oriented work you might do in an evaluation group.
Here the forming part of the group or session is crucial, you are going into unknown territory with strangers so you need to be able to count on each other. Although this ‘unknown territory’ exists in an urban or suburban comfortable room or viewing facility, or perhaps a hotel meeting room – don’t think this doesn’t mean people won’t be anxious – they will. And so will you! Whatever you do don’t adopt a ‘nonchalant’ or devil-may-care attitude as if you were a complete expert, which almost certainly covers nervousness – and is likely to create mimicry in the group as they copy you, the most powerful person in the room!
Here is the shape of the Discovery Journey with key markers along the way:
If you have difficulties interpreting this on-screen you can download a pdf of the discovery diagram here:
We will return to the Phases or stages in this journey in future Tips, but notice if you will similar journeys of your own, where you have opened yourself up for new experiences. Going on holiday is a favourite [although if you’re a worrier like me, you may have packed everything but the kitchen sink!] Think of a time when you took things as they came, tried out some new stuff and went with the flow: that’s the kind of headspace to employ if you’re leading a creative journey.
More on what all the phases involve soon!
Now we focus in on the heart of breakthrough psychology, the idea of abnorming – born out of my eventual realisation that no theory, no matter how cool, could explain all that we are.
This is the key reason why I’ve bothered to learn about so many of the great ideas in psychology – and to keep them in my back pocket. You never know when they’ll come in handy!
Let me know your thoughts!
My Tip this week: get your groups arguing. Read on and you’ll see why.
If you have a set of alternatives to evaluate its likely there are two main question you’ll want to answer: which is strongest and why?
There are any number of ways in which one thing may be stronger than others, but we know that liking is a key attribute of preferences that lead to purchase. In many years of market testing Unilever have established this attribute’s importance. They have also shown that ‘likelihood to purchase’ is strongly correlated with buying in the real world – so you want to ask your respondents: ‘which do you like best?’ and ‘which would prompt you to buy?’ Of course you’ll do this in the words that work best for you but my advice is to keep it simple!
Next we come to the question of ‘why?’ If yours is a qualitative project, almost certainly some degree of diagnostics will be expected of you. Here the science and the state of our knowledge suggests that our respondents are much less likely to know why they chose one thing over another than they think!
Of the ten seminal papers on this site, 1,2 6 & 7 are relevant to this issue of awareness of our own ‘reasons’.
So, what should we do? The answer to this kind of methodological question is often to be found by questioning your own daily practices. How do you and your family reach decisions about prefrences in daily life? In my family it is almost always by discussion and argument, in which one side (even if only one side of your own mind!) presents its arguments against the other and they battle it out. We try to stop short of outright fights!
In my experience modern focus groups might do a bit of discussing – if there’s time, – but almost never any argument. This is for two main reasons:
1. There is a fear of argument and dissent in groups – that this activity would make the respondents uncomfortable – and more importantly, might make the moderator and the clients uncomfortable too.
2. Rhetoric, or the skill of argument is unfashionable in this empirical age. We are not taught how to argue in a civilised manner – and thus argument often appears uncivilised!
This is where Breakthrough Psychology comes in handy. One of the key techniques of abnorming (the founding principle of Breakthrough psychology), is called the Flip. To do it you just flip what is normally done on its head and do the opposite. So, if most groups don’t argue, we must find a way to use argument – and everyday life is actually packed full of it – in our groups or interviews.
How do you do that? My experience suggests that making it into a game is the best way. To do this you divide your group up into 3 teams, two trios and a pair (for a standard 8 member group – vary numbers if you have different size groups). Each trio chooses a different route from those you are evaluating and has five minutes to come up with a ‘pitch’ to the other group members on why this route works best for them. The pitch must be no longer than a couple of minutes. Then, once the first trio has done its pitch, the second trio goes on, pitching another preferred route using their arguments.
The point of this is that in order to ‘pitch’ something, people have to grapple with the original, turn it into their own words, extract what is of value from it and also what it means to them. It is these two elements meaning and value that will give you the best diagnostics. They also have to practice condensation, another crucial ingredient of evaluation work – forcing us to summarise virtues.
The remaining pair + the moderator form an audience and create a score out of ten for each pitch. That score can be linked to some attribute if you wish, like true to the brand, strength of appeal, whatever your client is trying to understand about the value of the routes. Or they can just comment on their experience of the pitches without scoring if you prefer. I recommend getting the scores!
Whether you end up focusing on one preferred route or more in your report/analysis is up to you and shaped by your brief.
Try this out in your next focus groups or post a comment with any questions you have and I will try to answer them.
This fourth video starts to tackle the conditions needed for creating depth in contact with people. It is in my view an illusion that you create any reliable real contact by venturing straight in to what may be twenty or more questions to strangers about their lives! I think that Relationships are the Source of Results and that at least one third of our time should be spent creating and building them!
My tip is:- think clearly about whether you are being asked to evaluate or discover. And then structure your sample and method accordingly. They are journeys through different landscapes and need different tools and tactics. Just as you wouldn’t use or pack the same bag for a business trip as a holiday – so you need to pack your methodology differently for these two journeys!
I’m sure many of us are grateful and excited to do the evaluative stuff, but it is not in my view the natural strength of focus group methods.
Why do I say that? It’s to do with the nature of the discourse. In any evaluative project the discourse must be sourced in comparisons. Is this better than that? Is this the right direction for this brand or service? Is the logo clear? Is the message on target? Is this more relevant/up-to-date?
Once you create a comparative frame, it’s hard to be sure in your groups who is comparing what with what. Everyone in your group or sample brings a different frame of reference to the topic and quite often the stimuli have at least 5 or 6 parts, so they are complex and symbols & language are often mixed together.
Most importantly, the people in your group are more likely to be influenced by you, the moderator and the other group members than the stimulus material. It is almost always of more importance to each person what the other people think of h/her than to be accurate about the stimulus or their opinions.
Additionally, if the group has dived straight into examining the stimuli and there has been no practice of working with difference or disagreement, the group will regress to the safest norm – and so choose a safe option. Not because it’s better for the brand – but it is better for the group. They feel variations on a sense of unity, comfort in agreement, sensibleness and that they have got their job done.
In my experience, the question lingering in the debrief of such exercises is often:
“How many people actually said that?” If this question is bubbling about, I think its nearly always a sign that quantitative methods might have worked better to resolve the ‘which is best?’ issue.
That doesn’t mean that evaluative work is a waste of time, far from it. It is essential to hear customers or potential customers working with the vocabulary and personality of the brand, and this can reassure clients and/or stimulate creative. I think though, that to get the best out of this type of group/depth, you need to include the possibility of disagreement and argument since this is the very framework you are using to assess. If it only comes at the analysis stage you will be left with having to guess! I will give you a tip on how to work with difference and argument next week.
Do you have any cookery books covered in creases and stains, where some pages are untouched while others fall out when you open the book or are missing altogether?
I do, and so was touched and delighted when someone invented one page, laminated recipe cards in ring-binders that you could stand up in the kitchen as you cooked.
‘Psychology on a Page’ is my version of cookery cards for facilitators and insight-seekers who want to have quick access to great ideas & theories without wading through 200+ pages or a long course.
The first, ‘Freud on a page’ launches next week.
We haven’t got the laminates yet, but if you like these we could collect them together and publish them in a ring binder, complete with piccys and stuff!
Let me know if they’re useful!
This is the second video in my series. Click on the Thumbnail above to see the film.
This one lays out some of the important ‘socially constructed’ boundaries that face any facilitator. These boundaries determine what is permissible and what is not in each level of encounter with other(s). Inevitably the position and strength of these boundaries varies with different people. Some are much more personal, others more professional. Some have a well-developed public persona (entertainers or entertaining people for example), while others do not.
To make contact with people – and to explore things at some depth – you need to be able to cross these boundaries readily and without creating offence.
The unacknowledged existence of these levels is, I believe, one foundation of the idea of ‘talking at cross purposes’ where you want to explore something in more (or less!) depth and your group or interviewee seems to be missing the point. It’s helpful to practice these transitions if you want to reduce the amount of time you’re out of synch with each other – in your personal & private relationships too!
It was in the area of structure that we favoured the idea of co-creation and developed the principles and techniques for abnorming. I had long believed that people’s potential was determined more by the circumstances they found themselves in and their pathway towards those circumstances than by their innate creativity or intelligence. I don’t believe that either of these two capabilities, much favoured by experts & elites are fixed qualities that have been doled out in rations between us! There are just too many examples of people accomplishing exceptional things (often in exceptional circumstances) for any other explanation to make sense. Not just exceptional good things either: if you read the coverage about the policeman who ‘truncheoned’ Ian Tomlinson to the ground, you’ll find his creative interpretation of Mr Tomlinson’s ‘aggressive behaviour’ quite imaginative and his mixing of ‘towards’ with ‘away from’ equally inventive. The policeman said under oath that Tomlinson was approaching the police line aggressively, while the video shows him walking away.
I suspect too, that in the Courts of Justice there is an epidemic of everyday lying that illustrates huge resources of creativity and confabulation available to the ordinary man when the chips are down!
I will return to the damning ideas of special talents, elites and ‘gifted’ people again as I discuss our experiences of Breakthrough Zones in future posts.
We must also take up the topic of everyday lying and distortion so well demonstrated by this video and the policeman’s story. What if lying – or at least confabulation (making up explanations/rationalisations on the spur of the moment) – is the standard procedure in ordinary focus groups and interviews? Surely that means that for many clients getting the ‘reportage’ of what was said in the session is the booby prize!
To return to our theme: how could we create the sort of circumstances in which accomplishing the exceptional became the norm?
From years of brainstorming and facilitating new ideas sessions, I had discovered the faults of brainstorming methods: I found myself in agreement with the synopsis given by Keith Sawyer in his excellent, ‘Group Genius’. Here Keith outlines the three reasons why brainstorming groups are less creative than impromptu groups (called Nominal Groups in the classic Osborn study):
- Social Inhibition
- Production Blocking
- Social Loafing
I will return to each of these – and what you can do about them in the Tips section. In summary, you may be starting to gather that I think that many of the conventional ideas about human beings and what happens to them when they get together are simply wrong. To test the validity of any widely promoted idea (like intelligence, talent, expertise) you need to consider who benefits most from these ideas, allow for the experimenter effect and include the value of the ideas in maintaining the status quo. Each of these three ideas appear to limit the potential for the rest of us when compared to the best of us. We can thank reality TV for beginning the process of dismantling these shibboleths.
Have a lovely weekend!
Over the next year its my intention to publish 100 tips that I have found useful in the practice of qualitative research, co-creation and depth work of all types. I think we are lacking a forum for sharing the intimate tools of our trade – including all the frustrations, disappointments and difficulties we meet along the way. I hope that others from our professional community might join in the conversation – posting if they will not only reactions to my suggestions but also good ideas of their own.
As early as 1988, I promised I would get off the road, give up the nights spent in unfamiliar homes, viewing rooms, hotels and in the company of strangers. Yet in spite of efforts to change direction, modify my practice and do it differently, I have come back to trying to understand what makes people tick (and hence what makes me the person I am!) over and over again. This is the central journey of my life, and I have spent my career pursuing it. Apart from the mysteries surrounding my own childhood, if I look back for the source of this fascination I can recall a childhood passion for detective stories and trying to figure out who was the culprit, the motive and the plot. Sherlock Holmes was a hero of my youth! There are other more intimate sources to this story and, perhaps, if I find a curious audience I will recount them in more detail.
It is, I believe, important for practitioners to know why they are in the room with others, engaged on journeys of discovery, for if the motive is only money it will get tougher and tougher to endure the double-day working (daytime + evening), the endless travel and hotels, the tension of being ‘viewed’ by clients, critics and peers and the effort to make an intervention that goes beyond reportage.
This last is a key point: if we are merely to report what people said, you can see that the days of truly interactive, face-to-face qualitative are numbered, for why should we not just collect people’s opinions gathered in a ‘room’ online? I am a big fan of online qual work – especially done in the community style – but nothing can match the face-to-face encounter for the skills of building empathy and permission to dive beneath the superficial to explore what lies beneath.
I will publish the first of the 100 tips next week.
Although I am the storyteller, the story is not mine alone. It is born from the thousands of people who have given me their time, their opinions and their feelings across 29 countries in nearly 40 years – on topics ranging from toothpaste to athlete’s foot, from tax dodging to thoughts of dying.
Without them, I could not have honed my craft, such as it is, and I would not have had the privilege of watching them uncover insight and the impact it had upon them.
From windy wet nights in Northern Cities, to sunny days in Singapore and Sydney I have gigged again and again. I have never missed a group or an interview, although I once was swept off my feet by the power of the wind in a snowstorm in Edinburgh, carrying an art-bag which acted as a sail to lift me into the air. Another time I left the results on the train and cowered for days wondering whether to come clean or hightail it to the badlands. One night in Bristol I listened to a woman tell a rapt group her recipe for roast Badger. I hope you don’t want it; I have forgotten everything except the unusual fact that it contained Flora margarine – the proper subject of the discussion.
This is my first blog and the very first post. Over the coming weeks I will do my best to share with you what I have learned in all those years and hope you will join me in talking about these matters, sharing your own tips or advice and creating a community among those of us who form the frontline of the insight business.
Every week I will post a new video, talking about some of the topics that matter most to me. I will also accompany these with pdfs of the text and slides so that you can use them for study or in projects or contact me about them if you want to. Nearly all of this is original material as far as I know.
Each week will follow a similar structure. I’ll tell you more about that soon. I hope you enjoy the Blog and look forward to hearing from you…