Shape a proactive program
Research posture can be proactive or reactive. Tapping into planning and documenting knowledge and knowledge gaps can help achieve the shift to a proactive research program.
To establish a proactive research program:
- Use OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) or equivalent planning tools to project research asks and present a roadmap to leadership.
- Create an open board to track unknowns and mitigate recency bias.
- Establish a tracker or repository to document information that teams already know, especially as teams change and grow.
Share ownership with stakeholders to build a proactive research program
Even organizations with dedicated user researchers have their designers, developers, marketers, and product managers taking on research activities. Engagement with stakeholders on what to research and how is key to establish a shared and not seperate research program.
Steve Portigal suggested:
- Conducting question workshops to gather and involve multiple perspectives, simplify, and prioritize research questions.
- Provide training on how to ask questions, handle turn-taking, and be an effective observer during interviews.
Implement research rigour to support anyone conducting research to do it easily and well to have impact
- Democratize research by involving product and design teams in research activities and providing them with tools and processes.
- Use platforms like userinterviews.com to remove friction from the process and streamline recruiting and scheduling participants.
- Find suitable participants for B2B research by exploring beyond sales relationships, considering behavior, non-users, competitors, and lead users.
- Help teams think about decisions they need to make to clarify the purpose and objectives of the research.
- Encourage teams to narrow down and document specific decision statements that can be addressed through research.
- Capture and address assumptions before research to tackle bias and plan studies effectively.
Communicate research findings widely while research is in field and after to drive engagement and impact
- Make time for debrief sessions after research activities.
- Share low-effort field highlights and summaries that capture key moments on platforms like Slack or a wiki page.
- Share research findings and insights through various channels, such as email summaries, presentation decks, and raw data archives.
Facilitate decision making to drive impact
- Conduct workshops to transfer knowledge, align people on teams, and explore possibilities
- Conduct separate workshops for what was learned and what actions will be taken. Allow time in between for research findings to settle.
- Use Points of View (POV) statements derived from research data to align and guide decision-making.
- Assign people with a role of ‘gatekeeper’ to manage research findings and prioritize actionable insights for different teams.
- Use storytelling techniques to communicate research findings effectively, such as branded presentations or workshops.
Sustain impact through continuous engagement
- Consider organizing field days or similar events to enable team members to directly engage with users.
Ask operational questions before choosing a research tool
- How does tribal knowledge work, who owns culturally accepted norms and truths?
- Who currently holds information from research?
- Who will put information in and who will maintain it?
- Who needs the information?
- Will people self-serve or will there be a reference librarian that can respond to requests? If so this skill set and process need to be defined.
- What will be stored? Data, insights, interpretations, conclusions?
- Be intentional about shaping a proactive research program.
- A proactive user experience research program is shaped through alignment to OKRs, by surfacing outstanding questions and assumptions, and defining and tracking the changes the research informs.
- Impact is achieved through providing support, facilitating the process, and sharing ownership.
- There are many ways to embed quality if teams are doing their own research from providing guidance on how to conduct research, to facilitating discussions that define assumptions, and curating actionable research insights.