What does ‘agile online qualitative research' mean?

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Tom Woodnutt

Founder, Feeling Mutual

April 04, 2022

The phrase ‘agile qualitative research’ is too often just a proxy for ‘quick and dirty’. This misses the point.

To us, ‘agile qual’ is less about speed per se and more about cadence. It should mean that the researcher aligns their fieldwork, analysis and reporting (format and timing) with the client’s (and / or agency’s) development schedule - so that they are in synchrony.

The concept of ‘agile’ comes from developers who wanted to take a more iterative, experimental approach to building software. Rather than trying to craft the perfect design and then build it, they instead broke the task down into chunks, launched ‘minimal viable products’ which they develop through a series of ‘test and learn’ cycles. This relies on close collaboration and a free flow of insight and learnings between stakeholders.

To us ‘agile online qualitative research’ means embracing these principles and applying them to how research is gathered, interpreted and shared with clients and their agencies. Our agile online qual projects will typically involve the following:

  • ITERATIVE: We stagger reporting across fieldwork through ‘feedback loops’, that use tech such as online whiteboards, allowing client / agency to act and comment
  • CHUNKING: We chunk research objectives into the most strategically relevant parts, ensuring we explore the emotional context behind them all. The order in which they are explored maximises the validity of the findings.
  • DIVERGENT: We allow multiple interpretations to co-exist (rather than seeking to oversimplify the story to a single ‘truth’ prematurely) - taking on views of all parties
  • CONVERGENT: We end up with a clear, independent, evidence-and-expertise-based recommendation to suggest the best way forward

Online and mobile qualitative methods make it easier to generate and share, contextually sensitive, multi-media insights. They can be fed more efficiently into agile workflows and lend themselves to iterative, multi-phased studies.

If you want to explore how we can shape our research processes around your business frameworks, teams and developmental processes, please get in touch.

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