Ethnography stands out in a survey
The principals of the Product Development Group, owners of the Stage-Gate registration, published the lead article in Visions (a PDMA publication) this month. It was a survey of firms about their most used and most effective “ideation methods”. [I will probably return to this article in more detail in a later posting.]
Overall there seems to be serious problems with the survey including an odd definition of VOC techniques and susceptibility to bias. The authors highlighted the quadrant where methods were both most used and most effective. If you believe, as I do, that survey participants desire to:
- Make themselves look intelligent
- Tell the researcher what he/she wishes to hear, and
- Tell some truth,
in roughly that order, then the most used – most effective quadrant may not be that interesting. Who wants to tell a questioner that “I spend all my time and money on focus groups but they aren’t worth a d—.” It quite likely is true but it doesn’t make the subject look particularly smart.
I would find the little used, but effective quadrant to be the most interesting. The authors did not make that available, but the less-common used extensively, highly-effective quadrant MAY point us in that direction.
Ethnography was the clear outlier: less than 15% of respondents used it extensively but it was rated as the single most effective technique. (And it was labeled correctly as a VOC technique.)
Of course there is a bias risk here too: ethnography may be a fad; it may have a cult of followers who have to believe because they are spending their time and money in an unusual way…
But maybe anthropology deserves a look!