It's good to talk
Colin Rice ended up running to the AQR Field Management course, due to our ever-efficient Tube network. Would the day be downhill from here on?
As a relative novice in my current position for close to five months, my first within market research I was hoping for an informative insight into field management. Despite my rather fraught journey thank you London Underground and my fashionably late arrival, I was not disappointed.
Charlie Gower, from mobile telecommunications company 3, gave an insightful account of the client's perspective. She emphasized both the importance of research for a company looking to launch a new product, and field management's vital role in ensuring that the correct research methods are applied and that the client's requirements are always met.
Anne Hastings of ase, meanwhile, offered the researcher's perspective on project management, what is expected and what can go wrong. Both talks should ensure that I remember in my role as field manager to step back and think 'what would the client expect from me?' a bit more often.
If I had ever questioned what that role is exactly, Sally Fairall of 2cv: Fieldwork would have put me right. Communication, she insisted, is vital at all stages of the field manager's job something that emerged as the theme of the day. No matter how obvious the benefits of good communication are, sometimes we forget to practice it. I was just thankful that Sally managed to confirm that decisions I have made in my new role have, so far, been correct!
Talks from recruiters were particularly interesting. We all guess at their job and all that tends to entail, but without first hand experience it remains just that, a guess. The medical research talk from Lisa Kabouridis struck a pertinent chord, having experienced the difficulties involved with medical recruits first hand.
From medical research we moved into the realm of consumer and business work, possibly more pertinent to the group as a whole, with a talk from Debbie Tahir. Videos of the respondent perspective also proved amusing, showing how money can prove a powerful incentive to participating in market research.
Liz Sykes from Field Initiatives rounded off the day with a discussion on current research concerns, focusing on old chestnuts like escalating incentives and repeat attendances.
The course was as advertised: a guide to the basics. It was never going to be rocket science, but if it had been I, and many fellow attendees, would have been lost. For field managers on the first rung this course is ideal: friendly, informative and most of all, fun.
Research Director, Discovery
This article was first published in InBrief magazine, March 2003
Copyright © Association for Qualitative Research, 2003