A focus group is composed of pre-qualified participants whose objective is to discuss and comment on a topic within a context. The Participants share their perspectives and attitudes about a topic and discuss them in a group setting. This sometimes leads participants to re-evaluate their own perspectives in light of others’ experiences. A trained moderator manages the preparation of the session, assists in selecting participants, and facilitates the session. If the moderator is not the business analyst, he/she may work with the business analyst to analyze the results and produce findings that are reported to the stakeholders. Observes may be present during the focus group session, but do not typically participate.
A focus group can be utilized at various points in an initiative to capture information or ideas in an interactive manner. If the group’s topic is a product under development, the group’s ideas are analyzed in relation to the stated requirements. This may result in updating existing requirements or uncovering new requirements. If the topic is a completed product that is ready to be launched, the group’s report could influence how to position the product in the market. If the topic is a product in production, the group’s report may provide direction on the revisions to the next release of requirements. A focus group may also serve as a means to assess customer satisfaction with a product or service.
A focus group is a form of qualitative research. The activities are similar to that of a brainstorming session, except that a focus group is more structured and focused on the participants’ perspectives concerning a specific topic. It is not an interview session conducted as a group; rather, it is a discussion during which feedback is collected on a specific subject. The session results are usually analyzed and reported as themes and perspectives rather than numerical findings.
Who Should Attend?
Anyone who intends to lead a variety of focus groups, project meetings or working groups and wishes to become more effective at guiding people to solve problems and make decisions.
- How does qualitative research fit into the overall research scheme and how can it be used most effectively
- Determine which qualitative research techniques are most effective for your project including pointers for using in-depth interviews, ideation sessions and other qualitative techniques
- Pointers on determining how many groups, which participants to invite, which cities to select and the appropriate moderator
- How to create and use an inference ladder to design qualitative projects Typical costs and fees
- How to create a discussion guide
- Sequencing of topics and questions
- What should and shouldn’t be included in a guide
- The inverted pyramid approach
- The four main stages of a discussion guide
- How to elicit responses
- Questioning skills – direct and nondirect questions, probing, the why question and how to avoid it
- How to avoid asking biasing questions
- Unconditional positive regard and other moderator management skills
- How to develop quality communication through a series of groups, including effective listening skills from behind the one-way mirror and debriefing
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