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Conversations and interviews
Conversations and interviews

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1.1.2 When good enough is better than perfect

So, how can you handle these complications? (To be honest, I’ve only touched on some of the ways in which we can affect the answers our respondents give us.) It is tempting to think that we must aim for some sort of perfection in our interviewing techniques and, indeed, some books on research methods appear to aim for that goal. In a practice-centred inquiry, however, perfect interview technique is less important than getting timely and relevant information. So, for example, waiting a week for the perfect context for a formal interview with a senior colleague might well mean that important and urgent action is delayed unhelpfully. There is a real possibility that aspiring for the ‘perfect’ will obstruct you in achieving a ‘good enough’ result. I’ll say more about how to achieve good quality inquiry later, but for now, as you undertake a practice-centred inquiry, you will need to judge whether the upside of getting quick information is worth the downside of that information being flawed. This is one of those areas where keeping good field notes is vital, for you can record your sense that a colleague’s comment might have been influenced by the way you asked the question.