Actionable Research Question

Skill theme: 
Interview Planning & Execution
Interview Planning & Execution

You will find a variety of goals your team is trying to accomplish as your increase your awareness of organization and project context in Stakeholder Interview, Stakeholder Assumptions Workshop, and Front-Line Collaboration. The core of effective research is a guiding question that aligns the investigation and follow-through.

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The challenge

It is difficult to turn goals into a discrete set of the things we need to learn to achieve them. Before that, the first challenge is to ensure the team has a reasonable picture of what they're trying to achieve. Teams may lack awareness of their real needs, signaled by discussion that they "need more data" or "need to talk to customers" or "get user insights"—these all indicate a lack of clarity in approach.

Even teams with clear aims in mind may have a laundry list of questions, jumping ahead to what they would like to ask before firming up what they need to know. And it’s easy to suggest a method before the criteria for its suitability is established (“let’s user test it” or “we can just hold interviews for that.”)

The challenge is about forming strong and useful questions, but the real constraints are the team those questions come from, and how prepared they are to act on the answer.

The approach

Determining the best way to answer that question is a crucial step to be taken after a clear question is developed. First, continually check your understanding of what the team is trying to achieve, what information they need, and how they will use it to deliver. You can probe how well-formed a team-member's thinking is by asking what kind of answer they expect they will see, and the things they will do with it. Setting up clear questions first allow you to select the appropriate methods to answer them well.

Therefore, understand the team’s end goal, their hypotheses, and where their gaps in knowledge lie. Propose lines of inquiry that, when answered, will allow the team to make decisions with confidence. These will not be the exact questions you pose to research participants; here, you form a strong research question to guide the approach to execution.

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Take well-formed research questions based on what the team needs to learn and develop Study Plan to answer those questions, or Research-Driven Design Project that will allow you to "build to learn" your way to the answers.

Last updated:
May 2, 2020 20:40


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