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If you work in new product development or have participated in maintenance projects, then most likely you have used either the focus group or the brainstorming technique. The brainstorming technique is used to produce ideas and increase creativity. For example, after you’ve defined your problem and are looking for the different solution options, you gather a few folks from your project team (mostly the development team) and ask them about what they think a solution could be. The result of these gatherings could be ideas/solution that are obvious, or the so-not-obvious-out-of-the-norm options. Brainstorming is a way to ensure that your organization remains innovative.
Focus group can also be used to gather ideas; however, focus group goes a bit further.
For example, focus group is used after the development of a prototype, in order to get an idea of how the market will respond to certain features of the solution.
During a focus group, you are looking to gather the attitudes (in forms of comments and feedback) about an idea, a solution or even a process. The participants of this meeting should be outsiders; meaning folks who are most likely to use/consume to product. The result of a focus group would be the answers or feedback you’ve gathered during the meeting. This feedback can be compiled and organized by themes to present to the sponsors.
Here are the main differences between the two techniques:
Improve existing ideas
A need to solve a problem
A need to study an existing idea, solution or process
Idea, solution or process exist
Number of participants
6 - 8
6 - 12
Can be homogeneous or heterogeneous
Person running the show
Knowledge of topic of discussion
In depth knowledge of topic of discussion
Develop criteria for evaluating and rating ideas
Create a discussion guide and moderator scripts
Nice to have
Restrict time to produce ideas
1 – 2 hrs
1 – 2 hrs and sometimes over several days
Type of questions to ask
Progressive closed-ended to generate and build on ideas
Can be open-ended to generate qualitative data or closed-ended to generate quantitative data
List of ideas combined to form themes
Report of findings
- bullet list of information learned
- comparative analysis between to solutions
- summary of response collected for each question
posted @ Wednesday, June 22, 2011 1:12 AM by Linda Erzah, CBAP
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