We started off by exploring some of the current assumptions underlying qualitative research practice and how these can both help and hinder the way in which we work together with clients. We then moved on to explore alternative qualitative models and what these would mean in practice.

It soon opened out into an interactive session where the participants talked about the role of ‘internal’ workshops to help define strategy, prior to conducting ‘consumer’ research and the value of workshops after, or instead of the presentation, in order to help clients to ‘own’ and act upon the knowledge gained.

A more open approach to research was mooted, in which it was seen as a process, rather than an event, i.e. research methodology that evolves as the project progresses. We talked about research as an intervention; one that inevitably creates change, and how this is particularly pertinent when researching within organisations.

We also covered how a shift in the way we view qualitative research -- from a methodological perspective, an event driven, pre-defined sample structure, etc., to a more client orientated, process-driven, organic activity -- will require a different business model. This may also have implications for which budget it fits into, how it can be categorised, how we charge for it.

It was a good, lively session, with a variety of different views expressed. People were not backwards in coming forward, and since the main aim was to encourage clients to become more aware of AQR, its activities and interests, I think we can safely say that we succeeded.