Asking business partners the right questions

Asking business partners the right questions to ensure actionable research insights

Alistair Croll, Visiting Executive at Harvard Business School and author of Lean Analytics, recently stated: “There is a realization that data itself doesn’t lead to answers. This is really maturity: It’s asking the right question that’s hard.”​

For corporate insights professionals, asking the right questions of consumers is a challenge, but so is asking the right questions of their internal business partners. It can be difficult, but is a frequently required part of the process.

Business partners may have difficulty articulating exactly what they need to learn to inform decisions. Sometimes they are too close to the problem to see the bigger picture. Sometimes they are too quick to rush to “let the consumer solve this problem”. Sometimes they have difficulty describing the business challenge they are facing. Sometimes, they are unaware of existing or secondary research which could adequately address a challenge.

In situations such as these, the insights team has to make sure they are asking the right questions and “pushing” (gently!) for detailed responses. They need to probe thoroughly enough to build alignment with their clients on clearly defined business objectives and research objectives that will generate the information needed to drive the business decision. Key questions include:

  • What is the current situation driving the need for research?
  • What are the primary business decisions that will be made as a result of this research?
  • Do you have any hypotheses or expectations about what you will learn?
  • What would you need to know if the study results are the opposite of your hypotheses/expectations in order to believe them?

Without taking the time to get that alignment, there is a greater likelihood that the research results won’t meet the client’s needs and thus won’t be acted on. Quirk’s 2016 Corporate Researcher Report found that nearly 50% of respondents indicated that it is always or often a challenge to get research insights acted on. That results in a great deal of unused research!

DecisionAdvancerTM addresses this critical problem. The tool guides researchers of all levels of experience in improving study objectives and building accountability in using the results.  Thus helping ensure that research learnings are acted on and staff and budget are more efficiently employed, providing a stronger Return on Insights for research investments.