Fresh Squeezed Ideas is a boutique, Chicago-based research firm that helps its clients solve problems with innovative methods. Their researchers are avid Rev users and leverage our transcription service to streamline their workflows. With expertise in behavioral science, anthropology, strategic foresight, and business design, Fresh Squeezed understands what makes people tick today and studies the future to design for better tomorrows. WIRe+ webinar sponsors Rev sat down with Fresh Squeezed Ideas Chief Strategy Officer Elizabeth Frank, and Innovation and Foresight Strategist Ariana Lutterman for an interview. We covered how their research methods have changed since going remote, how transcripts help their analysis, and insights uncovered during their recent research into parent-child relationships. The following interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Elizabeth Frank: In some ways, going remote has changed everything, but in other ways, it's actually been a fairly seamless transition for us. Thanks to technology, we can do work across a very large geography without the challenges of travel.
Zoom is a very obvious platform that everyone is using more than we ever imagined we would. But we're also able to leverage things like tech-based whiteboard solutions. For both primary research and co-creative work we do as a team, we need a large whiteboard space in order to be able to ideate and expose respondents to different stimuli. Every project is different, but I’d say we've certainly evolved both the design and the way we think about approaching research.
Ariana Lutterman: I think the move to remote has helped with people's openness to thinking about and discussing certain things. With foresight or thinking about problems that involve the future, it can sometimes be really uncomfortable for people to get in that headspace. They think, “Oh, that’ll never happen.” But now, people are seeing that our current present isn’t a linear thing that’s going to continue at this same rate. So I think people are much more open and willing to get into that uncomfortable space.
Plus, technology allows us to run these types of events with dozens of people from all over. We wouldn't necessarily get all those people into a room for the same amount of time otherwise. Of course, there are considerations — when you have dozens of people on a video call, how do you help people have intimate one-on-one connections and conversations in that space?
AL: I think energy is the most important part in keeping a workshop engaging. You need to make sure you have people who bring excitement and make people feel like adding value to the workshop. I think we have definitely learned a lot as we go. During workshops, we have a lot of amazing research that we want to immerse people in. But we try to not actually present at people for longer than 15 to 20 minutes, if we can help it, and to break it up as much as possible.
EF: The other thing that we've done — and that Ariana does really well — is just encourage people to get their hands dirty and engage with the platform. It gets rid of that intimidation factor quickly. Also, it’s just important to have fun, to make sure you get people laughing. Yes, some of the work we do is serious, but some it is extremely light and enjoyable.
EF: Transcripts provide us with something that we can analyze and pull quotes from. We make broad use of quotes — we use all of the insight and language to bring texture to our research. There is nothing like the layering in of quotes to bring a piece of research to life. A transcript is this snapshot that takes you right back to a discussion or a moment of insight, and I would say it really makes our deliverables come to life in a magical way.
AL: They’re also great for facilitating collaboration asynchronously. I don’t have to be in every interview to get real insight from it. We have so many projects going on, but with transcripts we have that ability to share, very quickly, a highlight, an insight, a validation.
And for foresight specifically, that validation is important. Foresight research can feel very abstract to people, but having a quote that validates something and how somebody feels about it is a big add. That’s not an abstract thing — it’s grounded and there are emotions attached.
AL: We had a client who had given us a challenge, and our first point of work is always interrogating that challenge. Saying, “What are the assumptions inherent in the problem statement they've presented? Are we really answering the right thing?"
In doing that, we realized that parent and child relationships were very important to our client, but that’s not one-dimensional. There is no single parent-child relationship. We knew we would find different solutions and could get really creative, if we broadened our challenge point.
EF: There were a lot of assumptions that could have made the project head in a fairly linear direction. But we unpacked and challenged everything, and rebuilt the notion of the parent-child relationship in a way that was much more nuanced. It’s not just that COVID has changed everything. It’s more that the intensity resulting from people being at home together has revealed things about relationships that perhaps were not at the forefront of people's minds.
Primary research was definitely a huge part of this project, but there was also a lot of work done in terms of looking at trends. We saw what was happening across a bunch of different categories and industries, so we could explore this parent-child relationship in the context of knowing what was going on.
EF: We've become dependent on technology in ways that we never would have imagined, but at the same time, people are craving tactile experiences. You have this push to be really, really progressive from a technology perspective, but you also have this need for human beings to unplug and find moments to be together.
AL: Looking at that digital whiplash was really interesting. We also looked at trends subverting what we think of as the traditional parenting mindset — like things being very neat versus very messy. Now, for better or worse, people’s mess is on display. People see that we’re all messy humans, that people don’t have to be perfect parents. I think there’s a desire there to let some of that go.
EF: The other thing that's interesting is that parents who might have assumed that their kids were needy or dependent on them saw their children in a new light. You saw parents realizing the resourcefulness and the power and the brilliance of their kids because they were engaging with them in really, really different ways. And so, there's this newfound, two-way respect that we observed going on: both the kids going, "Wow, my dad's pretty cool because I actually get to see him doing his job and cooking dinner while he's on two different Zoom calls."
AL: I always try to remember that the people I'm talking to are ultimately the experts in their own lives and their own experiences, and my job is to let that come through. So I go into research not as the expert but as the collaborator, and see it as more of a co-creation process.
EF: My advice would be, don't be afraid to bring your humanity, to be yourself in the way that you approach your work. I think it actually makes it more compelling, and lets you create some amazing connections every single day.
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