On Jun 22, 2013, at 3:47 PM, Adrian Howard wrote:
As I said before - research without *any* goal or hypothesis feels kind of straw mannish to me. Can't recall I've ever seen it. What *exactly* are we talking about here?
Folk who are just researching "the customers"?
Researchers are not immune to Sturgeon's Law. 90% of all research projects, in my experience, are crap. They are poorly formulated, poorly executed, and poorly integrated with the rest of the organization.
Well done research (the remaining 10%) starts with a focus. Sometimes the focus is narrow ("We need to see if this feature is implemented the best it can be."); sometimes it's broad ("I wonder what we could do to help our customers better."). Whether narrow or broad (or something in between), the focus guides the research.
Where it's completely useless and wasteful is when it's done in a context where it's not going to be used. If the work that I do just ends up as a shiny 100 page report on the CEOs bookshelf then it's a waste of time and space - however intellectually satisfying.
Sometimes that report sitting on the shelf is the researcher's fault. Sometimes it's the organisation's fault. Most of the time I would imagine that it's a bit of both.
So are the problems you're seeing with "research", "researchers" or "organisations" (or all three)?
Much of the poorly executed research I see happens because the organization's reward system and culture have not been adjusted to accept it. If an organization isn't set up to take the research and its results in (which are separate things), then you get the result of the shiny report on the CEO desk. (Ironically, the best research never has a report to put on the CEOs desk, which is fine, because the CEO was involved in the work throughout.)
You can't separate the problems with being with "research", "researchers", or "organisations", in my opinion. They are deeply integrated.