Research That Influences

1 day virtual workshop
March 30, 2023, 8:00 am-4:00 pm PT

What does it take to build research into an influential and indispensable fixture of the organization? It’s not just doing the work: these days, technical execution and research capability are table stakes. We need to build a broader understanding of the larger context that research lives in. Leverage lies in the interactions between user context, product team dynamics, and organizational communication and power structures.

In this workshop we’ll learn to sense, model, and target key areas for research growth in the organization. Through lecture, individual reflection, group activity, and candid discussion, we’ll review our own team capabilities and the three contexts of concern for our work (user, team, org), then build a plan of action for taking research to the next level of influence.

Target Audience
This workshop is targeted at anyone working the challenge of building out a research practice:

  • First-in-org researchers and teams of one who are carrying the torch themselves
  • Research leads, or research and design managers who are overseeing the function — primarily with small teams (~4 researchers or less)

Attendees should be actively undertaking or overseeing research work, and looking to establish a stronger foothold in the organization: we use the existing work for interrogation, exploration, and conversation

Learning Goals and Outcomes

  • Reframing research as a contributor to the larger process of product development
  • Understanding the evolution of the function itself and the tactical/strategic divide
  • Scanning for leverage across the big three contexts of concern
  • Identifying specific opportunities and steps for growing influence and credibility

Intro and Warmup – 30 mins

  1. Dave fast intro (5 mins)
  2. Miro activation / small-group selection (15 mins)
  3. Workshop agenda overview (5 mins)

The Role of Research – 1 hour

  1. Small-Group Brainstorm and Warmup Activity and Affinity (20 mins)
  2. Small-group topline share-out (10 mins)
  3. Lecture: Research’s role in product development (25 mins)
  4. Individual reflection prompt and questions – how does your team function w/r/t to the above? (10 mins)

Current Work Activities and Functional Capability – 1 hour

  1. Individual: enumerating research projects and workstreams, past and current (10 mins)
  2. Lecture: Research capability and tactical/strategic divide (20 mins)
  3. Individual reflection: “gut-feel” rating of research capability (10 mins)
  4. Small-group discussion: current capabilities and potential for growth (20 mins)

Profiling Contexts of Concern: Users, Teams, Organization – 1.5 hours

  1. Lecture: User, Team, and Organization (25 minutes)
  2. Introduce Auditing Activity + Short Q&A (5 minutes)
  3. Auditing Activity (60 minutes)

Strategic Opportunities and Potential Plays – 2 hours

  1. Allies and Amplifiers
  2. User Conduits and Proxies
  3. Organizational Rituals and Process Integration
  4. Play selection and evaluation

Close and Wrap up – 30 mins

  1. Closing Lecture: Strategic Mindset and Organizational Experimentation (10 mins)
  2. Small-group prompt: Creating cohorts for follow-up and check-ins (10 mins)
  3. Final Q&A (10 mins and formal close, +10-20 mins for folks who want more)