Researching the Researcher

I’m a big fan of Kate Towsey and an even bigger fan of this tweet. Research Ops is not user research; rather, ReOps is service design.

Creating the structures, processes, and experiences that enable better research is complicated. It requires a deep understanding of the visible and invisible elements that impact the research experience. It also demands nimble delivery of resources that help researchers.

While the delivery side of Research Ops needs more discussion and attention, I’m curious about efficient methods to keep a pulse on researcher needs and priorities. Research Ops isn’t UX research, but user understanding is still a critical component of service design.

One common approach is project-based research. This is discovery around an aspect of Research Ops that you’re trying to improve.

Project-focused studies are helpful, but they often fail to capture the changing nature of work across the company. So much can change in a product organization within the space of a week. Top priorities can drop down the order, people can switch teams, and new initiatives can kick-off overnight.

To keep my finger on the pulse of research, I run weekly drips.

Weekly Drips

Weekly drips are casual calls with teammates from product, design, and engineering.

Every week, I have a 30-minute video chat with one or two people from each of those teams to understand the static and dynamic aspects of their work. The three main questions I ask are:

  • How is work going right now?

  • How are you currently learning from our users?

  • What’s the hardest part of learning from our users?

These conversations enable me to uncover hidden problems or opportunities where Research Ops can assist.

I hesitate to share this approach because it’s so simple. Of course, simple is often better.

Over to You

How do you keep a pulse on what’s happening across your company? Do you exclusively run project-focused research, or have you used other approaches?

Add a comment to share your experience and perspective.