2 or 4 Groups?

A Point of View

David H. Fauss, M.S.M.

On September 10, 2015

Category: Business Frustrations, Careers, Employment, Getting the Job Done, Litigation Tips, Managing Employees, Small Business Success, Trial Consulting

There are at least 2 parts of the question which is the title of this post, “2 or 4 groups?”. Part 1 is the research question, and, it could be, is it 2 or 3, 4,…10, or more groups? The question is one we work through with clients when planning their mock jury/mock arbitration research. For any adversarial research method we use a minimum of 2 groups so that we have the ability to compare results. Many times, we conduct 4 or more groups on the same case and the more groups we have, the more data we have with which to work to understand the case and to develop strategies and juror profiles. We have often seen 1 group, out of 4, 6, or 10, be the 1 that really helps us get a handle on a case issue. And, that happens randomly. Thus, when working up a proposal, we often propose options to the clients for numbers of groups, often it is 2 or 4. It is probably obvious that 4 groups cost more than 2. The internal costs of more groups, including the mock jurors, are higher and our fees are as well due to the additional work required. But, the reward to the client who spends the additional money is that the results are better, in many ways. With all of that background now comes a story, part 2 of this post. Many years ago one of Magnus’ employees was waiting on a client to decide whether it is 2 or 4 groups so that she could work on the research plans and logistical arrangements accordingly. At some point, before we knew the answer to the question, she said to Melissa and me, “I hope he only chooses 2 groups…” We were speechless, but when I recovered I pointed out how her statement showed a terrible lack of understanding of how 2 versus 4 impacts our company (the difference in profits) and the client (the difference in results). She made the comment simply based on her own personal wish not to work as hard as she would have to with 4 groups. (Needless to say, her tenure at Magnus was brief.) But, we have remarked over the years that there are obviously times when we observe employees of other companies acting in this same way. It is a good thing when a client wants to buy more of your product or service! When employees fail to understand this, and to encourage it, they harm the company, and their own long term employment prospects!

Prospective clients often ask, “So, how much is all of this going to cost?” to which I reply, “It depends on how much you want to know.” This answer may, at first, seem trite, but I do not intend it to be. I immediately follow this response with an explanation of how the cost for Magnus’ services depends on many variables, most important among them, the number of groups (meaning the number of research participants) they would like to use. Obviously, the cost of recruiting and paying incentives for 20 research participants is far less than paying for 100 research participants. However, when it comes to interpreting the research results and generalizing the results to the actual trial, arbitration, or mediation, more participants provide more confidence in the accuracy of the results. There is never, I repeat, never, a time when it is desirable to conduct research with fewer, rather than more, participants. The only reason our clients choose the minimum number of groups, 2, is that the cost is less than conducting research with more than 2 groups. Some clients, who are not well versed in social science research, ask if we can just conduct 1 group, due to their desire for low budget information. We decline this request, with an explanation of the ways in which 1 group research is “bad science,” but some people still don’t get it. When attorneys are basing important litigation decisions on the outcome of our jury, arbitration, or mediation research, it is crucial for this information to be accurate, not cheap. Yes, it costs more to do things the right way, but doing things the right way is all we do at Magnus.

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