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April 18, 2018
These oldie but goodie tips are totally applicable to research success today.
But hey, let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. It’s the journey, not the destination. Build your roadmap. Do you have a system for deciding what research to do when? How do you choose among conflicting priorities? Mr. Covey recommends a classic important vs urgent matrix approach, tackling the important and urgent first, not important and not urgent last. Perhaps you have another framework. The point is you don’t want to constantly be deciding how to make decisions. Whatever you choose, a system that continuously moves you toward your goals as a researcher, while keeping you in sync with your company’s goals for product and research is what you’re looking for.
Win-win thinking is sort of the heart and soul of UX in a way, right? When the user wins, your business wins. When advocating for research resources, time in the product development cycle, and a seat at the table, it’s useful to position research as a win-win. It’s not do research OR build that feature, it’s do research AND build that feature. It’s just part of the process. It needs to be, yes in different ways, at different depths and timelines and budgets, but always there. It’s not a question of if, but a question of how. Research does not come at the expense of some other thing (Time spent building the wrong thing? Or no thing at all?) but instead gives back more than it requires.
Moderators understand this as well as anyone. When you conduct an interview, or research session, your goal is not to be liked—though always a good idea to be nice—or to persuade. Your goal is to hear, to see, to understand. It’s a great place to let go of assumptions, biases, and ego. Your time to be understood is when the research is in, your analysis is together, and you need to persuade your internal stakeholders you have some valuable insights to share. You’ll be able to do that because you took the time to understand somebody first. Of course, even when your goal is to persuade, you’ll do well to understand those you’re trying to influence first. Empathy is never a bad idea.
If there’s a more 80s business term than this, I can’t think of it. Yet, the meaning behind the term is certainly something any researcher should strive for. Teamwork makes the dream work. The sum is greater than the parts. Just how many cliches can I throw into one paragraph?! Researchers work in so many configurations. Dedicated roles versus “this is something I do sometimes when I have time.” Centers of excellence serving entire organizations versus embedded in squads or sprint groups. Regardless of how your research gets done, it’s certain that to be effective you can’t let it happen in a vacuum. Maximize your impact by sharing your user insights outside just the product team; chances are they may help literally every other team too, then you get more influence and can do more research and have more impact still. Virtuous cycles!
Don’t burn out. Whether “self-care” is your jam, or you have a mindfulness practice, or a side hustle that gives you life because you JUST CAN’T STOP, it’s easy for a researcher to be under resourced and overwhelmed. Taking care of you, a pause from the day-to-day, some of those hard earned PTO days, whatever it is for you, keep yourself sharp because you have a lot to balance as a researcher. Your users and business are counting on you. No pressure.
Have another habit that works for you? Keep the conversation going on Twitter and share your tips there.
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VP, Growth & Marketing
Left brained, right brained. Customer and user advocate. Writer and editor. Lifelong learner. Strong opinions, weakly held.
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