From “What” to “So What”
Thursday, November 17, 2011
When I explain to people the benefits of qualitative research compared to quantitative research, I tend to talk about quantitative research as being the solution when you want to know what people are thinking. Qualitative gives you a richer exploration of why people think what they do, but because of small sample sizes in qual, you cannot extrapolate to the larger population.
Then I started asking myself – “So What?” As I was designing focus group questions – I would ask “So what? Why is it important to know this?” As I was facilitating discussions – I would ask myself “So what? How does this help me to understand why respondents feel the way they do?” And most importantly, when I was writing reports or preparing for client debriefs I would ask myself at each research finding “So what? How does knowing this provide value to the client?”
Qualitative research can easily fall into the rut of just repeating what we hear in focus groups or online discussions – and so the real test of a research finding for me is if it does more than just replay or summarize the “What” we are hearing and answers the “So what?”
I always tell my clients that I don’t make recommendations. My job is to clearly outline the pros and cons or the strengths and weaknesses, but that doesn’t mean that the insights for research should just be a complicated resorting of respondent comments. It has to be a thoughtful analysis that provides insight and clarity into how the respondent groups evaluates and react to the research topic.
So – in our next project together – don’t hesitate to ask me “So what?” at the end of the project.
Posted in: Benefits of Qualitative Research