Meeting people where they live, work and socialize provides new insights and unexpected opportunities.
- 2-4 Days
- Small gifts
- Participants or Participant families
Identify whether working alongside or staying in someone’s home is feasible or desirable.
If a homestay is appropriate, identify people willing to host researchers for one to three nights in their home. Depending on local customs, level of safety and language barriers, team members can stay in homes individually or partner up in groups of two to three people.
If a two-hour immersion is appropriate, identify people willing to bring you along with them when they work or socialize.
Ask team members to join with participants in their normal routines. If in a homestay, spend time with the men, women, and children in the household to see from all these different perspectives.
The value of time spent in-context
- What people say (and think) they do and what they actually do are not always the same thing. With no intent to mislead you, people often have strong beliefs about what they do on a daily basis that differ from what they actually do. The goal of your immersion is not to correct or point out the misperception, but rather to understand the difference.
- When you put yourself in someone’s shoes and spend a few hours or days working with them, you’ll experiencing their business and activity firsthand. You may gain a better understanding of what people think, feel and need along with a sense of the barriers and constraints they face. This deep immersion will help you to design solutions with their perspective in mind.
- Working with a person for a day in his or her field, living with a family for a few days or helping them bring their products to market are ways of showing your commitment and deep interest in their day-to-day lives. Over time, sometimes many months of relationship building, people will trust you and feel at ease sharing their plans and hopes for the future.
- If a homestay is possible, you can see how participants live day-to-day. A few days spent in their home, will allow a family to become comfortable with you. After the second night, people will begin to act naturally. The understanding and empathy you gain will increase the longer you stay in one place.
- Your team should not bring elaborate gifts, food, or alcohol to participants. However, a small gift of ordinary household supplies or help with normal family expenses is perfectly fine.
Check out the following tools for assistance designing your interview: Observations Worksheet, Conversation Worksheet