The tech industry is full of people who get paid to do basically useless work, including research that leads to nothing of value. They aren't accountable for anything tangible. They claim to be trying to improve things, but can't measure their impact.
That said I agree with Tim that lots of successful products are the result of unexpected insights. When I worked for Scott Cook of Intuit his favorite example of this was Malcom McLean's invention of the metal shipping container which was based on his observations as a truck driver. But that's insight of an entrepreneur/designer working in non-research role, which is different than being a paid researcher on staff that produces nothing that ever amounts to value.
The "nerve" Adrian struck was related to the idea that doing "research" without a hypothesis or a goal is something one should be paid to do. There are too many "researchers" that give the field a bad name in industry.
On Jun 20, 2013, at 12:40 PM, Tim Wright wrote:
On the other hand, lots of successfull products have been created by accident. The person who noticed them might not have had a "product idea or market in mind" - but they saw something and realised that there was one.
My favourite was the person who was trying to cure malaria and accidentally invented a new colour - Mauve.
On 20 June 2013 20:51, Adrian Howard <adrianh@...>
On 20 June 2013 09:46, Jon Innes <jinnes@...>
I think we actually agree here. Understanding customer's problems is the key to design. That's not what I was talking about. I just question folks who do research with no idea how it applies to anything.
If you don't have a target market or product idea in mind, then you should stay out of business.
Can you give some examples of what you thinking about then - since I'm not sure what you're arguing against? Something seemed to have struck a nerve ;-)
To me it feels like you're tilting against a straw man... I don't know of anybody in industry (in academia either come to that) who just able around observing things with no purpose in mind.