It is not square!
Several readers have pointed out that I seem negative on Focus groups. They are correct and there are two primary reasons:
- In a former role we were innovating with the help of customer input. We hired a consultant. Using an expert moderator and focus groups with our users the consultants managed to bring useful input and innovation to a halt.
- 40 years of academic research (e.g. VOC) shows that group innovation efforts such as focus groups and brainstorming kill ideas and totally eliminate the most creative ones.
However in the name of fairness, I must share this video that shows the power of an expert focus group moderator:
Here’s a three-year-old article about firms who have benefited by eliminating focus groups and the moderator-charlatans.
haha – nice video!
At a conference I recently attended, we had several brainstorming sessions devoted to finding ways to improve the grant we were all on. An expert moderator rotated between several groups, and I always felt like he did more harm than good. In one instance, a constructive conversation was beginning, but it didn’t fit the format that had been imposed on us, so he actually stopped the discussion to reimpose the format. By the time he’d done his damage and moved on to the next group, the idea was gone.