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Abbott Research

Five Ways to Improve Your Qualitative Projects

light bulb wrapped like a grocery item1. Think small

Qualitative is not projectable. It is about human truths. Think Shakespearean soliloquy: one memorable voice expressing lived experience. A small project is better than no project. A few in-depth interviews are better than many short ones.

You can do iterative or extended communities with smaller numbers. Collaborate with your qualitative specialist and you can figure out clever ways to get things done on a tight budget.

2. Do less

The more you jam into any given qualitative research event (QRE), the faster the whole thing has to move in the actual moment. One more concept to test, one more topic, can we just quickly look at this video? Can your researcher do it? Yes. Why, then, are they objecting? They are objecting because the magic happens when no one is rushing. Do less and you will get more.

3. Focus more

If you are spending your time tweaking the discussion guide, having surfed over the objectives, you are focusing on the wrong end of this particular horse. Your researcher can contribute more when they have maximum clarity on what you need to know, why, and what you will do with the insights.

4. Slow down

You know how your mom always said: “Stew is always better the next day”? The same is true for analysis. I’m a big believer in spending time in immediate team debriefs. But if there is more time available for analysis before reporting, that extra cooking time can really add flavor. You don’t always have the time. But when you do, seize the chance to slow down and think more.

5. Get out there

You will learn more about people by getting into their world than you will in the office. There are lots of ways to do that, some complicated, some easy. Video self-ethnography is one of the easy ways, a great tool to take you on a journey. You don’t need to sacrifice the chance to get people into a traditional setting – you can do both.

So that’s the path to insight hunting: think small, do less, slow down, stay focused and get out there.

Portions of this material were previously published in Vue magazine.