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Out of the FOG: A Non-traditional Research Approach to Alignment

Product teams, including those I work with, struggle to overcome the grinding momentum of product delivery timelines to make room for adequate discovery, learning, and application through research. The game of product development becomes fiercer when it’s not the first time, but the fourth team assembled to tackle a complex product space. In well-trod territory, strong opinions may abound, and talking past each other and rehashing approaches is rampant. Challenges that face researchers as partners in product development include establishing a sense of shared team vision, separating facts from fiction, and moving the team past hang-ups to establish a research strategy and product direction. This case introduces the idea of “grinding momentum” and outlines a stakeholder engagement process known as a FOG session that helps all team members across functional expertise areas claim voice, hear others, and share in collective aha moments that define next steps. Using a mixed-methods approach, a process is outlined to frameshift the value of existing knowledge spanning many departments within an organization, bring together distinct expertise vocabularies and analyses, and propel product partners to identify true knowledge gaps.