Your research supplier was in today. They stood up in your boardroom and made a presentation. Depending on your brief it may be pithy, or detailed. It may well be just what you need. I hope it helped you move forward and helped the company’s decision making.
Yet we know that many research agencies and their clients are a little disappointed at this stage. If the client was engaged in the field then they may well have 85% of the insight before the final report. It has been shared if urgent and acted upon.
So, what could you do differently? One suggestion is to turn “insights” into a workshop. Set at least a half day aside for this. Preferably a full day. Note, at times, we’ve spent two days depending on the project.
Why a workshop really challenges your research provider.
1. Discussions: It crunches the research down into a set of units. So rather than a two hour presentation “talkathon” it is now a set of artifacts and focal questions / explorations that each need a simple instruction. It forces the research company to think about how it will challenge the company, to think in new ways. It’s an increase in responsibility. Effectively you are raising the bar. It is go and get the insights and then help us with the discovery and internalization. You need a research team that can come back and facilitate this at a senior level.
2. Team work: The difference is immediate. Now your team is working on the information. You may have four or eight sessions – say each a one hour session. Each of these need preparing. It is part training, part conversation and translation into action. You will need a larger group to process the results in this way. 12 to 15 is great, up to 24 is manageable. R&D, Sales, Marketing, Production, agency etc – all can be engaged. The beauty is always in the discussions. When research is presented those that “disbelieve” ignore it. When they have to work with it together you may still have the disputes, but now it is a dispute with a customer. This is why I always like bringing the outside – in.
3. StoryTelling: The reason this approach is so much better is the researcher can tell you customer stories, share insight but can’t tell you how best to craft those stories internally or even project how they may affect different departments. Great insights change mental maps. When a company really embraces research in this way its approach shifts to learning. I’ve written for years that the best companies learn faster. That happens when a group is forced to work together on your research findings. Research is a great reason to bring groups together like this. I will add that this isn’t appropriate for all research projects.
I’d mention that this approach is a real value add. It is beyond what the average research project requires or finishes up with. It also typically provides a dilemma. When the company bought research they cost it in known units like number of focus groups, in-home ethnos etc. On the other hand, when a firm buys an innovation project which may be much the same with interviews, field visits etc. this same budget focus goes out the door. Usually for two reasons. The project runs over a longer period of time. It is more like a retainer for an answer or strategy than unit by unit.
Think, the next time you commission a project. How much more will I get out of my research budget if I add on a real workshop too? Plus how much time and therefore inefficiency will we save by going to market quicker, as a result?