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I was interviewed recently for What insight is ethnography delivering? (PDF). It’s a pretty clear piece, and I think we show well in it. Lots of tidbits but the closest thing to controversy is this:

Portigal accepts that while there needs to be conditions, such as a ban on any logos being worn by the accompanying client, and an agreement to undertake some basic workshop training to introduce them to the principles of field work, he is happy to bring along a member of the client’s team. “It’s the 80/20 rule: we ask 80% questions, you ask 20%. It takes them a couple of practices and then I think they can make a really valuable contribution.”

However, for O’Brien, the very thought of having a non-team member accompany out in the field is a non-issue. “We simply don’t believe in it,” he says. “The fewer people, the better. If you start crowding a room out, how is the participant going to feel comfortable? In fact, we have even lost jobs over it.”

It took me many years to come around to this way of thinking, but as our work has become more about facilitating our clients to take action and less about handing off insights, it seems right on for us. I’d love to hear what you think!


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