Focus Groups and Workshops

Focus groups and workshops are separate techniques that involve getting a group of people together for a purpose, but the emphasis in each case is different. A focus group is generally intended to gather people’s reactions to a specific product, service, or situation, while a workshop may be convened for a wider variety of reasons.

Both techniques define an objective, establish a place, time, and procedures to be used, identify participants and roles (sponsor, moderator or facilitator, scribe, SME or other participant, and possibly timekeeper), conduct the discussions and other work, document the results, and follow up on any identified communications and action items. In both cases the organization will (presumably) take subsequent actions based on the insight gained.

Focus groups are often conducted to gauge the desirability or positioning of a new or existing consumer product, but this doesn’t always have to be the case.

Both techniques can gather a lot of information or accomplish other goals in a short period of time, because face-to-face interaction can enhance communication and understanding. Potential downsides include issues of trust, availability, factions, and other issues.

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