The Kaizen Partnership is a social business based in London who carry out community engagement across a wide range of projects projects in regeneration, education, employment, housing and the social care field. I have previously participated in their excellent one day Open Workshop on Community Engagement.
In most consultations it is a good thing to include some form of focus group as part of the methodology. But there is a fundamental problem with focus groups that is as follows: in general, only a very certain type of person will attend. The customary response to this fact is to widen that group by use of straight out bribery – free food, gifts or other incentives. This in turn has the result that the focus group may well be attended largely by people who are interested in the loot, not the discussion. These are serious limitations on the reliability of the information coming out of most focus groups.
… So, in response to these issues, we have pioneered what we call “street focus groups”. Just as it says on the tin, it is a focus group discussion, held on the street – with no bribery and no incentives, beyond the conversation itself.
… And it works. It works really well.
This is an exciting new technique that we now use in all our consultations, and it means we can effectively have lots and lots of focus groups, with different sorts of people, in different sorts of places. These street focus groups last from between 15-30 minutes and cover a range of questions, in a semi-structured process. We may talk about just one aspect of the project or cover several – it really depends on where the conversation goes.
Read more on the Kaizen Partnership blog about Kaizen Street Focus Groups, and let us know if you try this (or already have done).