Why we need more collaboration in research
‘Great debrief, thanks so much.
We’ll be in touch if we need any more research in the future.’
These are typical parting comments exchanged between client and agency at the end of a well-presented research debrief.
They represent the Status Quo relationship between client and agency, and the ‘subjects’ being researched. The client briefs the researcher, the researcher talks to the research subjects, then the agency presents back the findings in a one or two hour debrief or workshop. And then all merrily go their separate ways.
But how about a different response as a result of research….
‘OK! Now we’d better get moving! Who’s going to do what next?’
At Partners In Creation, we believe a shift to a more between the client, the agency, and the people ‘being researched’ is the key to better decision-making and igniting action off the back of insight.
3 challenges to the Status Quo
We think there are three areas where the current client-researcher relationship often doesn’t function in the best interests of the client.
Researcher recommendations are not always actionable. Researchers don’t understand a clients’ organisation in the way the client does. Even with the best will in the world, their recommendations can sometimes fall short.
Traditional debriefs inform but don’t necessarily move. The formal ‘debrief’, while effective at communicating ‘findings’, is often not set up to ignite action. Too often debriefs are passive affairs, with organisational decision-makers absent. We believe that wanting to do something as a result of the insight, frequently requires some degree of participation and emotional engagement (read about the underestimated role of Empathy in decision making).
It’s not time efficient. While receiving a condensed version of research findings in a short presentation can on the surface seem time efficient – the time spent trying to clarify implications and make things happen once the research project is ‘wrapped up’ is all too often left out of the equation.
Becoming true ‘Partners in Creation’
At Partners in Creation, we promote a new kind of client–agency–research-customer relationship (see the diagram above). While it’s a break-away from the norm, it’s still judged by our clients to feel safe and do-able within time and budget constraints.
At the heart of our model are some key principles:
Collaborative Insight - Insights and recommendations are at their best when drawn out from research in collaboration with our clients and the customers themselves. Only in this way can they harness all available expertise and be actionable for the client and the wider system.
Participatory Understanding - First-hand contact with customers or users builds greater understanding of where they are coming from and why they do and think the things they do. This understanding need not be limited to the research agency but can also be effectively shared with the client when the right kind of safe and creative research environment is created. It gives members of the client team direct access to those they serve.
Actionable Learning - When our clients (including senior stakeholders) are more involved in these ways, even if only briefly, they find it easier to motivate colleagues, confidently make decisions and implement learning quickly.
Our collaborative processes and creative insight techniques, including our ABC Workshops, have been designed with these values in mind. We seek to involve our clients more in our processes and work as partners in shaping outcomes. We do this in a way that is tailored to, and respectful of what each individual organisation is comfortable with and able to give.
Adopting a more collaborative approach to research can require a cultural shift for some organisations. But where there is genuine desire to make research more action orientated, the benefits of our approach speak for themselves.
To find out more about our collaborative approach and how it might work for your organisation, contact John at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or give him a call on 07939 646099.