User Research is all about learning, and it is a profession as well as a skill. We do our best work as researchers when we are open to learning from and collaborating with others.
The metaphor I often use to describe researchers is an octopus. We have tentacles that touch every area of the business. And our impact and success within our role depends on our connections with others. In past research roles, the connections I built were with PMs, PDs, data analysts, marketers, customer success, support, and sales.
Our most effective ways of working together emerged in a few different ways:
1. Create agreements up front
This means chatting with stakeholders about how you plan to work together. Are they giving feedback on study plans? Observing sessions? Moderating? Something else? It’s always best to set intentions up front vs. be reactive when problems arise. Remember these will be living agreements, they will shift and adapt as your work and practice does within your team.
2. Brainstorm to inform the work
This often looks like a collaborative brainstorm to get your creative juices flowing. During my time at User Interviews, we often held kick off sessions to discuss facts, opinions, and guesses that we had around different product areas. We used this to inform a draft of our study plan. Then we’d share our proposal over Slack and get feedback from folks virtually.
3. Make your work visible
This can be a light touch way to keep folks engaged in between more active moments of collaboration. Visibility might take the form of sharing highlights from an interview session you just came from, or providing status updates via slack or other tools. Make it easy for your past, present, and future stakeholders to passively learn from the work you’re always doing. Gone are the days of not sharing your learnings with others for multiple weeks or months at a time.
4. Connect the dots
Unfortunately silos are a characteristic of many organizations. Your partners from product marketing, customer support, and data science all have great data points about the customer journey. By building collaborative relationships with peers from these teams, you can create a more holistic understanding of users and their experiences for the entire business. Don’t be afraid to share these through artifacts like service blueprints, journey maps, or personas.
How do you collaborate around research? This is by no means an exhaustive list. I’d love to know: What collaboration techniques do you use with your stakeholders?