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Focus Groups


I understand the basics re focus groups but don't know how to start, who to involve, how to structure such a group, how to manage it, whether to put together terms of references first etc etc... Any suggestions?
Ellie Roberts

5 Responses

  1. Focus Groups

    Once you establish your objectives for the focus group, you could try circulating a request for interested people to become involved with it. This might mean that you get people who are not necessarily those you want eg, those without much to offer in the topic area.

    A better idea, I feel, is to identify those people who have a vested interest in the outcomes or specialist expertise you can draw upon. Ask them to join you. Be careful not to have too many on the group and try to include at least a senior manager who has the authority to progress the issues raised without taking over the group. Depending on the topic, it may be useful having a union representative (if you are unionised)and need to sell something to staff etc.

    At the first meeting get the participants to agree regular meeting times, places etc and ensure you have an agenda for each meeting so that it has direction. Try to give participants jobs eg, research topics, gather opinions from work teams or other things that will get their involvement.

    Good luck.


  2. Getting to Grips and Focus
    I personally find that focus groups, like any other group, need to have a clear purpose and objective, which then defines their identity. The purpose of pulling together the group must be clear to everyone involved (and I like the previous comment about finding those who have a vested interest)and that all are reminded that the purpose of the group is to achieve that purpose or objective, and that all are clear as well that the group will not or may not go on ad infinitum. It should then be run as any other meeting in terms of having a chair, minute taking, actions, if any. But at all times, make sure someone is monitoring the progress towards the objective so that other gripes or discontent or pet projects do not interfere.

    The group should be representative of those with a vested interest, including end users of the product or service, and their viewpoints accepted and considered as much as those who may be required to implement or create said products or services. And, as was previously stated, keep it tight. If it is anticipated that the focus group will be required over a lengthy period of time, it may be appropriate to exchange members of the group. Likewise, if the end product or service will affect a large number of individuals, it may also be appropriate to find another method of soliciting input from those who may be interested.

    If you would like to be coached through it, step by step, then perhaps a call would be beneficial for you.

  3. Focus Groups – sizes
    I believe the number for a “good” focus group is not supposed to exceed 10 people, although we use about 30. We choose across the board from all departments, all ages, all job titles, all experience, excellent computer users to technophobes. The purpose is to get feedback from them so we know we are doing the right thing. We get them to go back to their departments and poll people with our various questions/suggestions etc and get them to e-mail us the responses. We use this for rollouts of new software mainly – it is a good way to do a training needs analysis too. We usually meet quarterly when there are no big projects going on, just to keep people informed, but we might meet monthly when there a big project to check that our courses are going to deliver what people want/expect. We find lunchtime works well (free lunch quite a good carrot to dangle) plus it can’t meander on past 2 o’clock so it keeps the agenda tight!

  4. Focus Group Kit
    Sage Publications (Telephone – 020 7374 0645) have “the Focus Group Kit” in their catalogue.
    Price is around £70. ISBN is 0-7619-0760-2. Published in 1997.
    Highly recommended.
    Hope this helps.

  5. Focus Groups
    you’ll find some useful stuff about conducting focus groups in The Customer Driven Company by Richard C Whiteley Century Business Books ISBN 0-7126-8928-1


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