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Conversations are the new research

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Presentation delivered to QRCA (qualitative research consultants assoc) at their annual conference in Atlanta, Nov 2006, as part of the AQR @ QRCA plenary session

Published in: Business, Technology

Conversations are the new research

  1. A presentation by Kevin McLean, Wardle McLean, UK Conversations .. .. a New Model for Qualitative Research www.wardlemclean.co.uk www.theartofconversation.net
  2. Introduction <ul><li>We are part of something bigger than we realise </li></ul><ul><li>Reframe qualitative research </li></ul><ul><li>Recognise our skills , raise our status </li></ul><ul><li> via ‘conversations’ </li></ul>
  3. Introduction <ul><li>Focus groups </li></ul>Fist fights Poems Brainwaves Hunger pangs Meetings Brands Prayer Indecision Trust Frowning Racing Democracy Climate change Blogs .. are all ‘conversations’ Kissing Arguing Colonialism
  4. Introduction <ul><li>What would you call </li></ul><ul><li>a good conversation ? </li></ul>
  5. Structure <ul><li>1. A short history of conversations </li></ul><ul><li>2. Communication and attitudes </li></ul><ul><li>3. Brands and marketing </li></ul>
  6. 1. A short history of conversations
  7. In the (very) beginning <ul><li>The very first conversation was ...? </li></ul>‘ John, how’d you do that fire thing, again’ ?
  8. In the (very) beginning <ul><li>Voiced utterance, plus gestures </li></ul><ul><li>Physical , social context (grooming) </li></ul>
  9. In the (very) beginning The birth of jazz © Larson Origin Usage
  10. Therefore... <ul><li>Conversations are what make us human </li></ul><ul><li>Conversations are not only verbal </li></ul><ul><li>We are essentially social beings </li></ul>
  11. Therefore... <ul><li>We learn through imitation … </li></ul><ul><li>… interacting with others </li></ul>
  12. Learning through conversation <ul><li>Socrates (469 - 399 BC) </li></ul><ul><li>Dialogues: </li></ul><ul><li>‘ extended conversations ... aimed at understanding ... through a dialectical method’ </li></ul><ul><li>Still relevant today: </li></ul><ul><li>- democracy / free market </li></ul><ul><li>- debate choices </li></ul><ul><li>- question producers and politicians </li></ul>
  13. Learning through conversation Socrates, the first QRC? going further for less
  14. Learning through conversation <ul><li>Beware the barrenness of a busy life </li></ul><ul><li>We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence is a habit </li></ul><ul><li>Wisdom begins in wonder </li></ul><ul><li>(Socrates) </li></ul>
  15. Conversations that changed history <ul><li>The Earth is flat </li></ul><ul><li>The universe revolves around the Earth </li></ul><ul><li>Europe / USA rules the world </li></ul>
  16. Conversations that changed history <ul><li>Crick and Watson discovered DNA via conversations </li></ul><ul><li>Linus Pauling tried to figure it all out </li></ul>‘ Because Pauling was so smart, he didn’t feel the need to talk to anyone’ (Watson)
  17. Conversations that changed history <ul><li>‘ (Crick) asked naïve questions .. in order to understand things. Conversations yielded new insights’ Theodore Zeldin </li></ul>
  18. 2. Communication and attitudes <ul><li>Three kinds of language: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>representational </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>structural </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>immediate </li></ul></ul>
  19. Communication <ul><li>Representational </li></ul><ul><li>dominant </li></ul><ul><li>over-reliant </li></ul><ul><li>misleading </li></ul>
  20. Communication <ul><li>Structural </li></ul><ul><li>body-to-body </li></ul><ul><li>comes first </li></ul><ul><li>under-estimated </li></ul>
  21. Communication <ul><li>Immediate </li></ul><ul><li>basic/powerful </li></ul><ul><li>pure emotion/feeling </li></ul>
  22. Communication <ul><li>“ 93% of all communication is non-verbal” </li></ul><ul><li>AGREE / DISAGREE? </li></ul><ul><li>It’s not what you say, it’s the way that you say it </li></ul>
  23. Attitudes <ul><li>‘ What is your attitude to ..?’ </li></ul><ul><li>Attitudes as: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>inside us </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>observable </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>measurable </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>immutable </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>‘ ours’ </li></ul></ul>
  24. Attitudes <ul><li>Do you have attitudes .. </li></ul><ul><li>.. or do attitudes have you ? </li></ul>
  25. Attitudes <ul><li>Attitudes as: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>made up, made to order </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>adapted/adopted </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>having a life of their own </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>part of a conversation </li></ul></ul>
  26. Conclusion <ul><li>Three kinds of language... </li></ul><ul><ul><li>representational </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>structural </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>immediate </li></ul></ul><ul><li>… are connected, all part of our conversation </li></ul>
  27. Conclusion <ul><li>We know ourselves, our beliefs, through conversation </li></ul><ul><li>‘ Quallies’ are trained in the art of conversation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>we can truly get to know people </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>if we practise good conversation </li></ul></ul>
  28. Part 3. Brands and marketing <ul><li>Welcome to the revolution! </li></ul>1950s today
  29. Markets are conversations
  30. <ul><li>Before : </li></ul><ul><li>Brands </li></ul><ul><li>Consumers </li></ul>
  31. Now : People Brands
  32. ‘ Commercial conversations’ Market research … has traditionally been about figuring out how to get customers to buy what businesses want to make, rather than helping businesses to make what customers want to buy. Commerce is going to increasingly shift away from older forms of communication … towards something that resembles a real conversation. James Surowiecki, author, ‘Wisdom of the Crowds’
  33. About brands <ul><li>Brands are not things </li></ul><ul><li>They are constructed from two kinds of networks </li></ul><ul><ul><li>internal network </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>external network </li></ul></ul>
  34. <ul><li>Brands on the internal network </li></ul>
  35. one neuron LOTS of neurons
  36. A challenge to us all? <ul><li>‘ Neuromarketing’ </li></ul><ul><ul><li>brain scans are the answer </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Professor Zaltman </li></ul><ul><ul><li>my way or the highway </li></ul></ul>
  37. A professor speaks <ul><li>‘ How Customers Think : Essential Insights into the Mind of the Market’ </li></ul><ul><ul><li>‘ Technology is revolutionizing our ability to understand customers. Insights about the workings of the cognitive unconscious ... and the neurobiology of figurative thinking, for instance, have already outdated most thinking and current practices’ </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>ie focus groups are redundant / do not work </li></ul></ul>
  38. Au contraire , professor <ul><li>‘ Herd - how to change mass behaviour by harnessing our true nature’ </li></ul><ul><ul><li>by Mark Earls (pub. Wiley, Feb 07) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>behaviour NOT reducible to brains / our unconscious but is socially determined </li></ul></ul>
  39. not just brains, our nervous system
  40. 1 2 3 4
  41. EXTERNAL (SOCIAL) NETWORK IN ACTION
  42. The point is <ul><li>Conversations are </li></ul><ul><ul><li>within us and between us </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>mental / physical, personal / social </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Qualitative research can tap into them </li></ul><ul><ul><li>when it is done well </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>inside and (especially) outside the studio </li></ul></ul>
  43.  
  44. And.. <ul><li>We know that what people say differs from what they do </li></ul><ul><ul><li>there are no guarantees </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>good conversations take us all forward </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>not just verbal (physical, emotional) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>not just in studios (out there) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>not just Questions and Answers </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Too often we have done average work, which holds us back </li></ul>
  45.  
  46. Grand conclusions <ul><li>Conversations </li></ul><ul><li>Open </li></ul><ul><li>Map on to networks </li></ul><ul><li>Build rapport </li></ul><ul><li>Between equals </li></ul><ul><li>Liberating </li></ul><ul><li>Q & A </li></ul><ul><li>Close </li></ul><ul><li>Impose a structure </li></ul><ul><li>Hinder, alienate </li></ul><ul><li>Power relations </li></ul><ul><li>Disempowering </li></ul>Q & A Close Impose a structure Hinder, alienate Power relations Disempowering
  47. Grand conclusions <ul><li>Conversations </li></ul><ul><li>Rich, rewarding </li></ul><ul><li>Space, freedom </li></ul><ul><li>Lead somewhere </li></ul><ul><li>Yield truths </li></ul><ul><li>Q & A </li></ul><ul><li>Confined, frustrating </li></ul><ul><li>Forced, feel trapped </li></ul><ul><li>Start and finish </li></ul><ul><li>Encourage lies </li></ul>
  48. By Kevin McLean [email_address] www.wardlemclean.co.uk www.theartofconversation.net TO GOOD CONVERSATIONS!

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