QRCA Annual Conference 2010

I’ve been anxiously awaiting the QRCA 2010 conference (http://www.qrca.org) in Philadelphia entitled ‘Innovation Instinct & Vision’. And with a title like that, QRCA was able to set the expectations rather highly. Moreover, reading through the statements of the previous scholarship winners it seems as though the QRCA was a very warm, friendly & inviting bunch of qualitative researchers. And all can say is the conference not only met my expectations, it exceeded them. To paraphrase the words of Ben Smithee (http://twitter.com/#!/SpychResearch), it was the ideal combination of education, networking and fun.
But let’s start off with the educational part. The 3 day conference was built around 4 different workshop tracks: technology, insights, techniques & professional skills. The great thing about the different tracks was that you weren’t obliged to follow all the sessions of the same track. One could easily switch from one track to another during the break. The hard part was however, since there were so many speakers & interesting sessions, to pick the one you most want to see, with knowing at the same time you will me missing out on 3 other great workshops. And it were really workshops rather than speeches.
The first one was on using storytelling and roleplaying in qualitative research. Whereas InSites Consulting already uses some of these techniques in their online qualitative research it was great to have a backbone of how to choose between the different techniques available and to even see them in action during the workshop. Kirk Bridgman (http://www.linkedin.com/in/qrckirk) has done an excellent job in providing a framework and of engaging the spectators in the workshop by making them real research participants talking about the slogan ‘As American as Apple Pie’ & making fictitious advertising campaign for hard cider. It also showed the three rules of improve theatre are the same ones that should be present in each qualitative discussion 1. Do it don’t censor 2. Say YES AND rather than NO BUT and thirdly Make your partners look good.
Another presentation that interested me a lot was the one on organizing, visualizing & collaborating: how to use design frameworks in analysis to achieve higher insights. Brianna Sylver & Cori Schauer were very eager to share some examples of how they used different design frameworks. Although they seemed rather straight forward from a theoretical point of view, everything changed when we were put to the test and handed an example that we needed to think about in small groups. This is also what’s great about this conference; you can immediately practice what you’ve learned and ask additional questions, that you may not have thought of when you heard about the technique purely theoretically.
Even though we are all in the same business, there’s a great spirit of collaboration and sharing in the QRCA. The networking part of the conference was really listening to each other, finding out what each other’s areas of expertise are and finding out how maybe we can collaborate in the future.
I won’t go into the fun part of the conference. Just send me an e-mail to found out about the cool places to dine & wine when in the City of Brotherly love. I do want to express my warm gratitude to the QRCA family who has given me a very warm welcome as a first timer and who made me feel right at home!

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