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Brickstorming the future of qualitative research in 2025

Brickstorming

We (brick)stormed our way into Qual 360 earlier this month (not the last dodgy pun to come – be forewarned!) with our hands-on workshop in which we shared our latest haptic tool.

Joined by a truly inspiring bunch of sixty-odd qualies, our session was all about getting to grips with a methodology that facilitates participants’ active engagement through co-creation and inspirational problem solving.

At Point-Blank International, we have committed ourselves to taking a holistic approach with our research designs and to be mindful of the five senses in our work. Our sense of touch or “haptic sense making”, as we usually like to call it, has proven to be a trusting partner in this endeavour; not only as a tangible modus of communication by ‘giving ideas a body’, but also in invigorating the hand-mind connection through prototyping.

In creative group discussions and internal meetings alike, we like to engage and inspire the people we work with, to give their brains a helping hand through tactile tasks. In letting our fingers do the thinking, we move away from the cognitive zone and into a deeper and more meaningful reflection process.

Whilst scouting for new and interesting tools to support this vision, we came across LEGO® Serious Play® (LSP) – a business communication tool, developed in the nineties, designed to tackle complex problem solving.

Through the use of precisely those small bricks that helped us make sense of the world in the earliest days of our childhood, this invigorating, hands-on learning style helps us to bypass cognitive blocks and unlock tacit knowledge. By building metaphors with LEGO® bricks, we conjure meaning through story making, deepening understanding, and making the communication of ideas tangible and shareable.

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In our Qual 360 workshop we started out by introducing a very quick overview of how LEGO® Serious Play® works – introducing some cardinal rules of play and engaging participants in a couple of skill building exercises. Everyone got an identical set of Lego bricks and after an initial competition in creative tower building, we had the room ready to start building… their nightmare first date (oh, snap!). The cheeky exercise accustomed our participants to one of the key characteristics of LSP: It’s not about visualising specific concepts, but about giving abstract ideas a body, and letting your hands guide your thinking.

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After rekindling the delegates’s enthusiasm for Lego, we then split up into teams to get down to exploring a BIG question: What will Qualitative Research be like in 2025? A daunting topic that would stifle most discussion with its sheer enormity.

However, armed with just a couple of bricks and with the weight of cognitive reflection out of the way, our participants quickly started building away and whilst doing so, came up with lots of intriguing ideas:

Some of the teams focused on how new technologies and neuroscience will be key catalysts for our field, whilst others predicted that the distinction between qual & quant will disappear (with some going a little further, “Quant is dead, long live qual!”).

A lot of optimism was felt, with our diligent delegates building models representing how qual will gain a higher profile in the future. Throughout the storytelling we heard how qual will prosper in creating stronger bridges between the corporate ivory tower and the consumer and that co-creation will become the new norm.

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In the final section of the workshop, the teams spent some time pondering the uses and applications of this clever little tool in their everyday lives as researchers. We received unanimous positive feedback – it seems we see eye-to-eye on this one: Brickstorming is an excellent way to level the playing field whether in exploratory group sessions, or bridging the gap between brands and their consumers by strengthening their understanding through play.

It helps unlock feelings and knowledge lurking below the cognitive level and breaks through the verbal for that which can’t (or won’t) be said.

A huge thanks to everyone who joined us at Qual 360. We had a ball and your stories and inspiration made it a truly unforgettable experience!

PS: The next QUAL360 conference will be held from March 24-26 in Atlanta, USA. For those interested in attending, please visit: http://www.qual360.com 

About The Author

Christoph Welter

Curiosity and a sense for fine details define Christoph’s approach to life, both in and outside of the office. As Strategy Director at Point-Blank International, he is responsible for pushing the envelope in new thinking and practice with the team. He stands for actionable and people-centric approaches. Years of experience in qualitative research and planning plus an academic background in sociology fosters his strong belief in a combination of pragmatism and deep thinking.

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