ome in, come in, welcome!” beamed Mary as she ushered me i n t hrough t he door. “You got here just in time!” I was relieved, as I had been under strict instructions to come a good half-hour before the others were due to arrive. “You really don’t want the participants to see you beforehand. That would be really bad form.”
I had just joined the product development division of one of the large retail banks and had been invited to watch a focus group. I had never heard of a focus group before, and had no idea what to expect. My work colleagues assured me it was the best way to get real feedback from real customers about new product ideas.
Mary led me through a door into a small room. It was completely dark, except for the light shining through a huge plate glass window that took up a whole wall. Mary pointed to the window. “See the room on the other side? That’s where the participants are going to sit. And Steven is going to facilitate the whole thing. If there is anything you want to tell him during the session, just let me know and we’ll bring him out.”
A few minutes later, eight people trudged into the room and sat down at the table. They looked remarkably