Focus Groups

In Focus

LL Focus Group Participants (LLFGPs) are people who assemble to share lessons in a team-based interview format. It is practical way of conducting research to gather lessons. LLFGS may be different than other forms of focus group arrangements, and special considerations might apply.

Here are some examples:
  • LLFGPs serve as Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) and are expected to have relevant knowledge on specific lessons
  • Convenience sampling may be acceptable to obtain participants
  • Random sampling may be acceptable to obtain participants
  • Forced sampling, i.e., being required to share lessons may be acceptable to obtain participants
  • The forma of the focus group may be co-location or virtual
  • LLFGPs may be contacted after the focus group session for follow-up (without traditional research fear of skewing results)
  • LLFGPs may be part of the project team
  • LLFGPs may be sponsors
  • LLFGPs may be key stakeholders
  • LLFGPs may be individuals outside the project, i.e., to support benchmarking
LLFGS are asked about their perceptions, opinions, beliefs and attitudes towards a product, service, or result of a project. A LL focus group is typically sampled from a larger population and is frequently composed of subject matter experts (SMEs). While a focus group is classified as participatory qualitative research design, it may yield quantitative data resulting in a mixed method results.

When not to Use Focus Groups

  • When participants are not open, honest and direct
  • When participants will compete to tell their stories
  • When there is conflict among the participants
  • Individual attitude measurement is desired
  • Subjects desire to remain anonymous
  • When the group is hard to reach and joint discussion may encourage attendance
  • If scheduling participants to meet at the same time is not practical
  • If uncontrolled debates are predictable
  • If somewhat equal participation will occur from each subject
  • Coding or facilitators are not established at the appropriate level to capture comments
When to Use Focus Groups
  • Searching for a variety of opinions
  • Diversity or multi-cultural perspective
  • Looking to increase numbers of people interviewed
  • When neutrality in response appears to be an issue, group discussion may encourage participation
  • When progressive elaboration is desirable, i.e., one subject adds more detail to a comment of another
  • When the environment is non-judgmental and subjects feel free to openly share their thoughts without fear of retribution
  • When it is cost effective and subjects are co-located
  • To increase candor through the "safety in numbers" idea. "If others are willing to share their opinion so will I."
  • When subject matter is complex and answers require participation of multiple subjects
  • Nominal group technique is desirable through group vote on an issue