Interviewing is, by definition, a dynamic, unpredictable and participatory activity. The process of interviewing people yields valuable information that you would not get if someone else conducted the interviews and wrote a report for you. During most interviews, a great deal of data is communicated non-verbally, through body language, hesitation, gestures, and intonation. No matter how good the researcher, it's just not the same as experiencing the interview in person. This is why the exercise is participatory - you’ll be doing the interviewing.
Knowledge is power only if you absorb it, understand it and believe it. With the researcher out of the way, the "filter" between you and your interviewees is gone. Rather, your own experience and perspective becomes the filter through which you absorb data. You can decide whether or not to believe what you hear, but you've heard it with your own ears. Hence, the value of the research derives not so much in the outcome as in the process itself.
I was part of an amazing process this weekend, working with Alan Brown of WolfBrown. 15 or so of my cohorts and I interviewed 44 donors about their motivations.
It was commissioned as part of an intended end product by the San Francisco Foudnation and East Bay Community Foudnations' Fudn for Artists program. magnes was a grantee and we got META/DATA by Nomi Talisman up through this program!!
Deeply fulfilling, very educational -- some real life-lesson stuff.