Research Evangelization

Skill theme: 

The larger story of the work of research—its function, its operations—is not yet a part of organizational awareness or "standard" service delivery like that of design, engineering, or customer support. Effective Reporting of projects and their learnings, as well as a campaign of specific User Needs Inception set the stage for discussing and amplifying awareness of the function of research itself, thus opening new avenues for impact and strategically important work.

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The challenge

There is always pressure to mold research into the needs and rhythms of other teams, hampering your ability to frame research with the appropriate balance of functional quality and team needs. It takes trust for team members to change how they have previously worked to incorporate new ways of working. 

To gain more leverage for the way you want to work, the team needs to understand how research will operate, see new opportunities for value from research, and believe in your ability to execute. And the best way to build that trust is by providing consistent and well-communicated proof of value and a straightforward approach to the work.

The approach

If your or your team are not well-established, start small. Consider the value you’ve already created in your projects and how these capabilities might be interesting to other teams that were not involved. 

Therefore, identify key team members who may be able to leverage or enable useful work and discuss past projects and future applications. Find existing organizational pathways and for internal education and use them to teach the team about how research works and deliver a project case-study presentation.  Build new ways of communicating the work into organizational rituals (e.g., “episodes” of short user-focused problem stories at town hall meetings), key touchstones (e.g., put on a “lunch and learn” presentation about becoming a better interview, or novel venues (e.g., a user museum highlighting the reality of work around a specific context.)

The work of evangelization is an ongoing campaign that requires a mix of editorial planning as well as opportunistic education, and above all takes time. It may take 3-5 instances of discrete communication before team members even begin to see and understand what you feel is intuitively obvious.

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As more teams understand the value of the work, its rhythm and tempo, they will be able to think about how to better incorporate research into their work. Collaborate on Product & Design Strategy with those teams, build more informed research schedules into Product Roadmap, and plan Research-Driven Design Project with new partners.

Last updated:
Apr 28, 2020 19:28


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Data from our 2019 workshops - 486 research practitioners voting on their top three useful skills / top three desired skills.
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