Listening is a subject that we take seriously at Nobles Research. Insights come by way of listening. Without listening, it is impossible to obtain understanding. I once wrote, if a focus group took place and no one listened, did it really happen? Well, it might as well have not taken place. Yet as I work with clients, sometimes I see empty back rooms and unused FocusVision sessions.
One of the ways to get more out of the research is to listen better, to be present in the moment. It is a challenge to get team members to attend research, and even if they are there in body, it does not mean that they are present in mind. It amazes me how often people are occupied by answering emails, participating on conference calls, and schmoozing their boss while the research is taking place. However, there are ways you can encourage more listening participation among your team.
Recently I was conducting a series of focus groups for a new idea. At the start of a round of research, there was this wave of optimism on the client side. However, group after group of respondents from a range of target audiences rejected the idea.
In my career there have been occasions where an idea we were researching was a loser and somewhat affectionately termed a “dog.” If you work in the market research industry or in product development long enough, you will certainly see your share of them.
Just recently I had a potential client contact me about a research project. We briefly discussed my capabilities and what he wanted to learn. A few days later I received an email suggesting some activities to do in the group, and he wondered if they would be good to use. This inquiry caused me to pause for a moment because I could not answer his question, as his research objectives were not clear. I could not assess whether or not the activities would be beneficial as clear goals for the research had not been established.
So, I sent him an email requesting his objectives for the research. I also thought since these were not clearly articulated, it would be good for his team to discuss them, so everyone was on the same page. Finally, I knew this would be critical for the ultimate success of the project.