I love writing discussion guides. Certainly, there is that “blank slate” moment, when you’re just not sure where to start. But then you begin jotting down new ideas, slapping sticky notes onto the wall and rearranging your questions and activities to arrive at a wonderfully logical discussion flow. So finally, the first draft of your discussion guide is complete and all is well with the world — or at least some parts of the world.
With today’s focus on laddering up to the more emotional layers of sentiment, a series of creative activities, projective techniques and homework assignments can be a great way to obtain the rich data you’re seeking. But sometimes, an activity that takes you to new heights in one market will sink like a lead balloon in another. (You want us to do what?!!)
There are no hard and fast rules, but it stands to reason that some individuals, professional categories and even entire countries can be more creative than others — and/or willing to share their creativity. In some markets, asking participants to do homework assignments is akin to pulling teeth — it’s just not as successful or even doable everywhere you go.
The best advice?
1. Before you draft your discussion guide and have committed to homework assignments or really fun exercises that have worked well in one instance, talk to your moderators and recruiters in each country you’re studying. They’ll have a good notion about how well your technique will work with the particular participants you’re trying to assess.
2. Don’t just hope that your group or interview participants will be creative. Hedge your bet by including screening criteria for the personality types and/or specific capabilities you’re seeking during the session (drawing pictures, taking photos, etc.).
3. If your research partners put the kibosh on your fabulous ideas, ask for alternatives based on what you’re trying to achieve. Challenge them to help you get what you need. Levaquin