Identify opportunities for change
Quantify market oppportunities, develop user insights, understand system challenges, quantify potential benefits
- Do you have ambitions to grow your business but you don't know where the start?
- Do you want to verify or quantify potential opportunities?
- Perhaps you need help translating your strategy into operational activities?
During early discovery you need to define the problem or problems you are solving and translate these into meaningful objectives and key results or OKR. In Design Thinking terms this part of the journey is about ensuring you have a strong problem statement so you are solving the right problem.
I recommend looking at the problem holistically:
- Understand needs from the inside-out - this helps to verify if you are aligned and begin to establish a baseline of the starting point.
- Understand needs from the outside-in - this uncovers pain points, opportunities and quantifies opportunities
These combined insights inform robust objectives with measurable outcomes that balance business needs and constraints with user needs.
User Experience Researcher | Facilitator
I can help you translate strategies into operational objectives linked to key results and engage teams with the initiatives that deliver results.
During early discovery I work with teams to:
- Define problems to be solved
- Embed the practices, tools and metrics for focused learning and experimentation
- Inform investment decisions that balances business goals and constraints against user needs.
Start from the inside-out - gather collective intelligence across the organisation
Tap into existing data sources
Study available data points, whatever is available - sales figures, customer surveys and where possible usage analytics including trends.
This gives you a picture of what's going on and informs the research to follow.
Interview key stakeholders
You need to establish what the organisation is trying to achieve, whether that be growing their business, reducing costs and/or exploiting capability. Business objectives are defined by people and are informed by a range of motivations - explicit and implicit, emotional as well as rational.
I tend to treat investigations with stakeholders as I do with end-users. I want to explore what motivates them, their pain points and ideal scenarios.
This helps uncover not only what leaders are looking to achieve but also what they're willing to do and/or sacrifice to achieve their goals.
This is the starting point to establishing objectives and key results or ORRs.
Observe front-line teams
Observe front-line teams in actions. Where possible interview them. Who do they interact with and how? Ask provocative questions to uncover how they think, what do they feel.
Understand what they value and what success looks like for them.
(Measuring the 'wrong thing' is common which may explain mis-alignment or under-performance)
The above are the ingredients that help to establish a baseline - where you are vs where you want to be and helps quantify the potential challenge. When this is done well you've got some insight into the organisational strengths as well as gaps and you're likely to have uncovered some of the constraints across technical, people and culture (culture is usually overlooked and I think this is a missed opportunity).
Bring people together
Reflect what you heard and share what you're learning. Help divergent teams learn establish the collective intelligence across teams.
Explore emerging questions that can be addressed in the next stage of discovery directly with target clients. Uncover assumptions and emergent hypotheses that you can test at a later stage.
It's often good to revisit the ORKs and explore if they need to be refined. Define what you want to learn next and what people need to see or hear to make the best investment decision, whether that be to go, no-go or pivot existing activities. This is the basis of the user research design.
Outside-in; Find the gap - explore needs and journeys
The basis of user research / discovery is to confirm or refute hypotheses and key objectives laid out by decisions-makers. In other words - do users need a better solution and why? Is this because there no solutions available? Or are existing solutions only partially meeting their needs? What experiences do target users seek and what's stopping them attaining them?
This is what discovery needs to undercover - the more anxiety driven by the market the greater the opportunity (and potentially complex the solution)
Tools to support this stage of the journey include:
- Discussion guide
- Interview schedule
At this point in the journey the focus is on establishing the problem - what, with whom and the level of severity. As the researcher you need to be solution agnostic.
I recommend involving key stakeholders to interpret findings and develop insights together to drive engagement and reframe problems they own as appropriate. I share my approach on the next stage.
- Objectives & Key Results (or ORKs)
- User needs and problems
- Baseline on current status or starting point
- Data-driven insights for innovation
"Máire brought a real boost of energy and commitment that our product needed. Under Máire's leadership we began to understand more deeply the differing behavioural types of people using our service and the different pain points they each experienced. The framework that Máire created helped deepen our understanding and quickly became a mainstay of our product discovery process and was subsequently adopted beyond just our group." Product Manager, Lexis Nexis - engaged as User Research & Innovation Partner, 2018 - 2020.