How Effective Are Focus Groups In Your Organization?
written by: Suba Lakshminarasimhan
• edited by: Jean Scheid
• updated: 9/10/2011
Organizations use focus groups while making big decisions like introducing new products, reorganizing the operational structure and re-engineering the key processes. Through this article, you will learn important tips on reporting these findings.
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Familiarize Yourself with the Group
Focus groups are one of the most important business research strategies you can use in your organization. Normally a group of eight to twelve people gather to discuss the important happenings in the organization. Planning the entire process efficiently before conducting a focus group is very important to achieve what is intended. If you are the moderator you will need to understand and learn how to conduct a focus group. Build a rapport, familiarize yourself with the team and the objectives by reading the profiles of the group members and other related documents. Develop ground rules for the focus group and, most importantly, remember to follow them sincerely. Be a role model and lead the team. Make sure you have a note taker or a recorder to take down the notes during the entire session. Use feedback forms or handouts while conducting a session to gather the quantitative data. Arrange for accessories like notebooks, pens, pencils, water well before starting the session. Inform the team in advance about the venue, time and date so no confusion occurs in the beginning of the session.
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Taking notes is an important step if you want to report group findings appropriately to management. Once the notes are taken, arrange them in the order below. With prior intimation to the members, you may also choose to tape record the entire session.
Name and brief information about the participants, place, date and time
Objective of the focus group
Key questions discussed and relevant responses from the group
Key issues discussed and responses from the group
Any particular issue unanswered
Remember to highlight the key points shared by the participants. You can use them as ‘quotes’ in your presentation.
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Create a Layout
To start the process, create a layout with titles and subtitles for both a MS Word document and a PowerPoint presentation.
Qualitative Outcome: The qualitative outcome is the result of the analysis done on the notes taken from the session.
Highlight the comments that directly impact the objective and decisions
Create/Edit titles / subtitles based on the highlighted comments
Quantitative Outcome: The quantitative outcome is the result after analyzing data from the handouts / feedback forms
Collate quantitative data for analysis
Create/Edit titles / subtitles based on these results as well.
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Collate the Information
As a first step, create a MS Word document detailing all the information gathered during the one to two-hour session.This will be very useful to analyze the findings appropriately.
Prepare a PowerPoint presentation based on the information you have collated in the Word document. This will help you cover the happenings from the entire session and not miss any important decisions made. The PowerPoint presentation should cover the objective(s) of the focus group, key information discussed, results and the required changes proposed.
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Analyze the Qualitative and Quantitative Outcomes
Once you have the quantitative and the qualitative data, it is time to analyze the same. There are various analysis methods like a Logical or Matrix analysis, Ground theory, Quasi statistics, Micro or Event analysis, Metaphorical analysis, and a Hermeneutical analysis are available for analyzing the qualitative data. Create a graphical presentation by analyzing the quantitative data collated from the handouts.
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Prepare the Report
Once you have analyzed the quantitative and qualitative data and finalized the focus group findings, focus on creating the report. Use a layout prepared earlier and start with the Word document. Write all the relevant information under titles and sub titles. The report should start with the information about the focus group, continue with the topics discussed and complete with the proposed changes. Use at least one accurate quote made by the participants under each of the titles and sub titles.
Power proofread the reports and edit the contents as necessary. It is advised to use a senior member of your team to proofread the reports. Make sure the reports are error and mistake free. Typos and poor grammar will spoil all the hard work put into reporting the focus group findings. Sometimes, reading a printed document will help to proofread the contents. If so, print the document to proofread the contents.
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Present Focus Group Findings to Management
Keep the Word document as a base to create your PowerPoint presentation. Use the pre-designed layout to begin your presentation. Add the key background information about the participants. Remember to use the important points and the highlighted quotes from the handouts or feedback forms. Highlight the key issues discussed, focus group findings and suggested solutions. Make use of the graphics, charts, pictures wherever possible. A free sample of a great PowerPoint presentation can be found right here on Bright Hub.
Prepare your presentation well so management is convinced about the proposed changes and approves them at once.