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The Analyst Business Should Learn From Disambiguity

With a headline like Why collaborative research analysis rocks out it was no surprise I found Lisa Reichelt’s recent blog made very interesting reading. Leisa, originator of the wonderfully evocative phrase Ambient Intimacy, and all round sticky note queen (3M should sponsor her) argues thusly:

These days when I’m doing any kind of user research, rather than going to my secret consultant place and doing that consultant magic that results in a presentation of research findings, I much prefer to get into a big room with clean walls and several hundred sticky notes and my clients/project team, and to work out the research findings collaboratively.

Ah yes-the ”secret consultant place” and “secret magic findings”; I believe the industry analyst business may have observed such things… I am going to quote from Leisa rather liberally as to the benefits of open collaboration. She doesn’t use the phrases “wisdom of the crowds” or “groupthink” but they hover over the piece.

Firstly, to combat what I think is probably the single most frustrating outcome of a research project – having your results either not accepted or immediately shelved, meaning that all of your work has come to pretty much nothing. By involving your clients in the process, they have a stake in defining exactly what the findings are, what is important, what is not. When you’re presenting the findings, you (or even better, the project team) are presenting the *team* findings, not just your own.

Secondly, to educate your client. To help them to understand that there is actually a rigorous process that occurs between the interviews or focus groups or whatever your research activity is, and when the findings magically appear in the presentation. To allow them to use the tools themselves when it is appropriate.

Thirdly, to get better results. Having your client with you will ensure that you apply appropriate rigor in reviewing research data. Not to say you don’t do this by yourself as well but it’s great to have the extra incentive

Leisa offers plenty of actionable advice and I certainly plan to rip this one off the next time we run a workshop:

Be sure to photograph all of your work, and then instead of the dreaded task of writing a ‘research report’, your job is then to gather all of this information into a digestible format for the team to use going forward.

And, of course, because they’ve actually been involved in the process, they’re much more likely to actually use it.

 

At RedMonk we see open review as a core element in quality research. Collaboration leads to better outcomes and less chance of groupthink. We carry out a great deal of our research openly on the Web, and spend as little time as we can in the “secret consultant place”.

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  1. It’s not just analysts. Consultants can learn a lot from Leisa, too :-) this stuff applies equally well to requirements gathering, architectural reviews, etc.. Very solid reading over on Disambiguity.



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