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3 essential requirements for research success at any company, from researchers who know.
Business research is built on questions, ideas, and cross-functional feedback. It’s easy to fall into a cycle of nonstop ideation, causing execution to suffer as a result. That’s why research teams need to work directly with executive teams—CEO, CIO, CFO, etc., to determine a prioritization system for experiments and studies to run. This synchronicity ensures that
We hear feedback, but don’t listen
It’s the research ambassador’s role to understand the needs of these business functions and ensure that all research solves users’ pain points. Several of our interviewees create quantitative scoring models, based on internally-defined criteria (which is itself a research exercise). These are proprietary and unique to each organization. They are designed to measure the efficacy of a research program.
Jana Eggers, current CEO at Nara Logix and former executive at companies like Intuit, Spreadshirt, Blackbaud, and Fannie Mae has been on both sides of the table of this challenge—she is an executive who champions the use of research within organizations.
So how do you create alignment with executives? Practice the act of listening as a strategic discipline, explains Eggers who teaches techniques for being a better listener.
“We hear feedback, but don’t listen,” she explained at a talk for Startupfest 2014. “We miss opportunities to make our product and company better and sometimes we miss the opportunity to succeed. Your ability to listen to information you are hearing is critical to building a company (or project or product) to last. That said, it is hard. Hard to hear things as they are, not as we are.”
Do research on your organization. That will enable you to build a scoring system and prioritize your research ideas.
Researchers often perceive their roles as observers and discoverers. They’re also listeners. How do you synthesize this information into actionable material to guide the direction of your business? How do you turn your research milestones from scattered information to a linear narrative?
At regular increments, write a report. Create stories about customers for your team to share. Your reporting template should include the following components:
Every team member should speak the same language, pursue the same goals, and align around overall business impact. Research enables a culture of learning, reflection, and data-driven guidance.
Looking to refresh your user research skills or pick up new ones from fellow practitioners? Check out the UX Research Field Guide.
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Ritika is a writer, entrepreneur, and founder of Storyhackers. She has studied and practiced user research as part of her work for years and is excited to be diving into the topic here for User Interviews.