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Cascade® Attitudinal Research Method

“Cascade is a multidimensional roadmap of the human mind.”

-  Paul Kass, Raychem.

Since its development in 1982, Cascade®, the proprietary attitudinal research system of Hamlin Harkins, Ltd. has delivered a complete solution to the research needs of more than one hundred of the world’s leading companies including: Apple Computer, Chrysler, General Electric, IBM, Intel and Phillips Corporation.

Results from Cascade® have earned Hamlin Harkins, Ltd. two awards for its contributions to organizational research.

The Cascade® attitudinal research system was designed to deliver a complete solution to these — and many other client organizations — seeking to attain key strategic goals related to corporate identity, product positioning, market research, employee attitudes, change navigation and corporate communication.

Two vital characteristics set Cascade apart from all other research methods:

  • The scope of the solution can address any research challenge.
  • Cascade’s proprietary method overcomes the pitfalls that bedevil standard research methods (e.g., focus groups and Likert scale surveys) while delivering an additional dimension no other method can: identifying the optimal message strategy for a target audience.

    For additional information, watch the Cascade video



Cascade's Comprehensive Scope

Cascade® provides a complete solution by addressing all four fundamental research needs of organizations:

  • To Attain accurate and in-depth understanding of current attitudes and opinions (rational and emotional) as they are held by members of target audiences.
     
  • To Uncover both identified and latent requirements in the marketplace.
     
  • To Develop an optimal, clear action plan for improving performance.
     
  • To Identify the best possible message strategy and prioritized path for achieving goals and objectives.

In addition, the Cascade research method is capable of delivering error-free analysis from significantly smaller sample sizes than traditional research methods, dramatically reducing the cost associated with data collection, the most onerous expense involved in any research effort.

 

Cascade's Proprietary Method

Cascade was developed by Hamlin Harkins, Ltd. to address a host of weaknesses inherent in the results of traditional research methods, including:

  • The imprecise extrapolation of gross trend data while hidden or nuanced decision drivers remain undiscovered.
  • Poor delineation of rational from emotional decision drivers.
  • The inability to track attitude shifts or changes over time.

  • The skewing of results due to positive response bias, (i.e., respondents telling you what they believe you want to hear.)

Cascade¹s proprietary method avoids these research pitfalls while delivering precise and reliable results with no built-in error through the innovative use of three key components:

  1. Open-Ended Questions with Strategic Probes.
  2. Unbounded Fractionation Measures
  3. Cascade / Peaks Scales.
 

Open-Ended Questions & Strategic Probes

All attitude research should include open-ended questions to identify key concepts that are important to the respondents. Hamlin Harkins, Ltd. studies repeatedly have demonstrated the value of using strategic probes to key questions as a way to identify rational versus emotional thinking of the respondents.

Cascade plots how respondents think on an emotional plane, (i.e., the area in which most adoption decisions are triggered) as well as a rational one, to help clients determine the most important ways to communicate with customers, prospects and constituents.

 

Unbounded Fractionation Measures

Both the accuracy and the ability to measure change over time are founded on the avoidance of any traditionally bound scales, such as Likert type or one-to-ten. Traditional scales are not useful in over time studies because they cannot uncover important shifts in attitudes among those respondents who feel most strongly about a subject.

Cascade’s use of the real number system provides the capability to use the full range of mathematical operations in analyzing results — without having to resort to compromise procedures (cross-tabs, for example) that frequently produce misleading, or just plain wrong, findings.

Cascade ratio scales assign "0" as the value for "total lack of" and "10" as the "average." There is no upper limit to the number a respondent can use in his or her answer. For example, if an individual feels the correct response is two-or-three times average, he or she can give an answer such as 23, 24 or 27.

This flexibility allows respondents to precisely rate the relative importance of different variables, so evaluations can determine how much emphasis to put on the various items of the recommended action plan.

 

Cascade® / Peaks Scales

A multi-dimensional scaling system, Cascade/Peaks Scales is the most sophisticated and powerful component of Cascade. It is non-standardized factor analysis.

While physical distance can be described accurately in three dimensions, psychological distance — which is multi-dimensional — cannot. The Cascade/Peaks Scales program provides output on the twelve dimensions which explain virtually all of the variance in respondents answers.

The program examines all concept positions (i.e. on each of the dimensions) to determine the best message strategy for moving the concept position one wishes to change (e.g., "The XYZ Widget Corporation") toward its desired location (e.g., "Prospective Widget Purchaser").

Having analyzed all relevant concept positions, the program accurately maps the "psychological distance" between the desired concepts providing the underpinnings for an effective communication strategy.

This strategy has its theoretical underpinnings in extensive communication research, which shows that messages act as forces that alter the position of concepts in the attitude space. When two words are associated in the same message, they approach one another in the space. When any numbers of concepts are associated in the same message, all of these concepts approach a common center.

Because the distances among the points in space represent the relationships among these concepts in the minds of respondents, the concepts also represent potential changes in attitude.

 

Care to Learn More

These three components of the Cascade attitudinal research method can be combined in unique ways to meet specific client needs. This flexibility provides organizations with a unique tool kit for implementing the best possible research study — in the most cost-effective way possible.

Interested in applying the Cascade research method to solve a pressing challenge facing your organization? Contact Hamlin Harkins, Ltd. today!

Christina Ellwood Testimonial - Hamlin Harkins, Ltd.





 
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