Getting intimate with our world: Increasing our value by increasing our awareness quotient

Keren Solomon
Intuit, United States

INTRODUCTION

Researchers rely on data. The data may be quantitative or qualitative, but it is almost always provided by the people we are studying. Our research participants tell us how they feel about specific products, how they behave in certain situations, and what they think about the brands they encounter every day. We capture what the participants say and do, and we analyze it. We then present our “findings and recommendations” to our clients in the manner of dispassionate scientists, talking about what “the study revealed.”

This approach, however, limits us. We have the potential to provide much richer, more creative, and ultimately more valuable advice when we combine what we learned from “the study” with what we know in other ways. For example, let's say we have been commissioned to do a research project for a bicycle manufacturer who wants to design and produce a new bicycle. Of course, we will find out how people feel about and use bicycles, using qualitative and/or quantitative research methods. We may observe how people store their bicycles at home. We may even look at how bike paths and bike commuting lanes are designed and used in different towns. All these methods increase our understanding of the “bicycle problem space.”