Rather, what I will say, is that assumptions are all too often the big elephant in the room when the conversation turns to new product development research. And it is assumptions – and more specifically, unspoken ones – that all too often impede companies from finding true innovations that will be openly received by their customers, not so much the methodologies they use for their research inquiries.
Let’s face it, assumptions – whether originating from a client or the researcher – form the foundation of any research initiative, from the decision of whether you design a broad, mid-ranged or closer in focused study to the methods and techniques you choose for data collection and analysis to how you package the results for client consumption. Problem is, many times assumptions are disguised as facts or “documented truths” and that’s when trouble looms.
People start working off of these assumptions, believing that they are “documented truths.” They never question their source or validity. But, one erroneous assumption has the potential to ruin a product, even an entire brand.
In most cases, companies are referencing previous research – whether primary or secondary – to inform where they want to start their inquiry. Getting your hands on this data will help you to understand how they have arrived at those decisions.
Sometimes we’ll do this as individual interviews and in other instances we’ll facilitate an “Assumptions” exercise as part of a kick-off. Regardless, focus is on uncovering each individual’s perspective on why they think the research we’re starting is important and learning what they already know versus what they need to know to be successful in the future.
Write out on paper the assumptions that are impacting the design of your study. Review this list with your client. Many times any assumptions flying under the radar as facts will quickly bubble to the surface once it’s clear that your decisions as the researcher as being based on these “documented truths.”
As extra insurance, include regular debriefs in your schedule as you collect data. Pay attention to your client’s reactions and comments at these debriefs. This will not only keep you informed about how this project, and their assumptions, may have organically evolved internally since the project’s conception, but it will also give you a sense for how your direct contacts are planning to position and sell the outcomes of the research within the organization after-the-fact.
Storytelling for Innovation Video Series: Introduction
The Backstory on Sylver Consulting
Reach out to set up a free discovery call. On this call, we’ll get clear on your scope of work to be tackled, how your initiative ladders to a broader business goal of your organization, and assess — without attachment — if Sylver Consulting is a “best fit partner” to support you in your scope of work.