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Lessons from the Road – Focus Groups

November 18, 2011

This will be a shorter post than I usually write.  I’ve been traveling for a client facilitating focus groups for the last two weeks and my mind is still very much “focused” on that topic. (And well, to be honest, I’m also a little tired as I sit here at the airport waiting to fly home.)  I know I’ve shared my thoughts on focus groups before, but the last two weeks have been so insightful that I had to share more with you.

Let me start by saying, if you aren’t talking to your users about what they need –either from a support perspective or learning needs evaluation–you really must make an effort to do so.  The users I spent the last two weeks with were incredibly grateful for the opportunity to talk about how they work and how they learn.  The most appreciative group was the lawyers and we’d asked them to spend an hour and a half of their day with us.  Many came in and told us they only had about 30 minutes for us, but every one of them stayed after the end of the session to share more thoughts.

What can you learn?  Every firm is different, but I’ll share some of my experiences from this two week run of focus group sessions.  A trend that surprised me was the lawyers requesting hands-on training.   We don’t always hear that, but it was important for these lawyers.  Another trend is the rise of the PDF in the document workflow.  Many lawyers are starting to receive client document edits in PDF format with bubble comments or some other form of PDF document editing.   Track Changes continue to make document collaboration a challenge.  Most users were receiving documents with Word Track Changes and most had developed a workflow to deal with those documents that allowed them to use the internal comparison tool as much as possible.

So I challenge you to talk to a few users about how they like to learn and how their work has changed in the last year or two.  And look for more lessons from the road as I travel around and learn new things about how users work.

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