Elicitation methods

We routinely use a broad range of different elicitation methods for different purposes.
We don't use interviews, questionnaires and focus groups very much, because those methods aren't able to access the various types of semi-tacit knowledge properly, and they're worse than useless when dealing with truly tacit knowledge.
The diagram below gives a brief overview of the different types of knowledge. Our full framework of knowledge types contains several sub-divisions of each of the three main types below. Interviews, questionnaires and focus groups are only able to access explicit knowledge consistently.
We've written in more detail about this framework, and about choosing appropriate elicitation methods, in this article, which contains references to further resources.


Methods tutorials:
Card sorts: For finding out about people's categorisations. Easy to use, and efficient.
Critical incident technique: Using a key incident in the past to uncover critical issues.
Hard case technique: Using a difficult case from the past to uncover problem-solving strategies.
Idea Writing: A simple, efficient way of eliciting explanations, goals and classifications.
    Laddering: For eliciting goals, explanations and  classifications. (Download)
Likert scales: Best practice in using Likert scales and Likert-style scales to gather quantitative data.
Observation: Seeing what people actually do, as opposed to  what they tell you or think that they do.
Questionnaires : Best practice in using questionnaires, and in knowing when to use them.
Reports: Using people's accounts of their own, and other people's, actions to access semi-tacit knowledge.
Scenarios: Systematically using "what-if" cases to explore possibilities.
Structured Observation of the Environment: A simple but useful way of assessing office spaces.
Task analysis: Using systematic observation to gain insights into reasoning and behaviour.
Think-aloud technique: An invaluable way of gaining access to a person's reasoning in real time.
Timelines: A way of recording activities systematically and quantitatively.