Whether it is product managers doing customer interviews or designers doing usability tests, and everything in between – it is now fairly simple to come up with a compelling argument that user research is a thing we should probably be doing.
So we move on to the second generation question. How do we scale this user centred behaviour?
Depending on where in the world you are – and your access to resources – your answer is usually to hire more researchers and/or to have other people in the team (often designers and product managers) to do the research. This is often known as ‘democratising research’.
Almost certainly this is the time that an organisation starts looking to hire designers and product managers with a ‘background in research’ and to establish some research training programs, interview and report templates and common ways of working.
This all sounds eminently sensible, but there are some fairly structural issues in how we work that can undermine our best intentions. At best, it can render our research wasteful and inefficient, and at worst it can introduce significant risks in the decision making that our teams make.
Each of these are systemic issues and anyone doing research is likely to be impacted when working as part of a cross functional product team.
So, let’s assume that people doing research have had adequate training on basic generative and evaluative research methods – here are five common dysfunctions that we will need to contend with.
- Teams are incentivised to move quickly and ship, care less about reliable and valid research
- Researching within our silos leads to false positives
- Research as a weapon (validate or die)
- Bias to certainty standardises dubious research practice
- Failure to mature research capability
In this talk at IxDA’s Interaction’20, Leisa discusses how the 5 dysfunctions of democratising research come into being, what risks they pose and what we can do to overcome them.
The Five Dysfunctions of Democratising Research
About Leisa Reichelt
Leisa Reichelt leads the research and insights team at Atlassian where we are interested in unleashing the potential of every team. You may know us from products including Jira, Confluence and Trello.
I had to privilege of meeting Leisa back in 2014 when we both spoke at IxDA’s Interaction South America Conference in Buenos Aires, and then a year later at the IxDA Awards weekend in New York. Back then, she was working with Government Digital Services in the UK then later in Australia. In both cases, building research capabilities within government digital teams that helped to create easier and more accessible public services. And before that she was consulting with a mix of London tech start ups and household name brands including The Economist, the BBC, Virgin Atlantic, and more.
Although she loves research, she loves even more the challenge of helping organisations disrupt themselves through gaining a compelling and closer understanding of the user needs they serve.