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Even when it’s anthropology for commercial/business purposes, let’s not call ‘them’ subjects, case studies, consumers, users or – worse yet – cohorts. As ethnography, design, strategy and innovation become more public about the ever-ripening fruits of their increased collaboration, let’s hear it for….people. I’m nearing the middle phase in a series of cross-Canada ethnographic home visits and I have yet to sit at the kitchen table of a subject, case study, consumer, user or cohort. In Toronto they’re men, women and children. In Montreal they’re men, women and children. And unless something’s gone awry that I missed on the news, I expect they’ll be men, women and children in Vancouver, Calgary and the Maritimes.

Sound like a picky point? It’s not. Any organization that is working (or hoping to) beyond ‘the box’ should be talking their walk which, I guess, is my way of saying that when the research firm you’ve contracted to conduct that qualitative study throws up a Power Point on the subjects, case studies, consumers, users and cohorts they’ve ‘sampled’ it might be time to cut your losses and run.

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