Working with Google in a series of collaborations using design research to support the creation of new services, we’ve co-developed a valuable approach for how research assets can best be shared and deployed to meet the urgent needs posed by a fast-paced agile process, while also capturing and structuring results to create value for the longer term. It can be difficult to document research results in a way that accomplishes both of these aims during an ongoing, iterative design process.
One way to accomplish this is to ensure that our design researchers very regularly meet with the client team to share intermediary results, even if they’re rough and unrefined. This is easier said than done, in part because researchers might be protective of preliminary conclusions before sharing, and in part because the client stakeholders may have to be resourceful to place these unrefined results in the proper context, taking into account the project stage, status of the deliverables, and adjusting their expectations accordingly. This mutual and collaborative process has to be actively managed and encouraged. Google and STBY have both invested considerable time and attention to this, which lead to a highly collaborative spirit and great results.
Another key experience from this agile way of working is that research deliverables, ranging from structured fieldwork documentation, to results that answer specific project questions, to key top-level takeaways, can be identified in terms of their potential shorter and longer-term value. In this regard the fieldwork generates a treasure trove that can be mined for value beyond the project it was created for.
Working in this way helps refine and improve research underway and helps ensure that results that didn’t answer the most immediate needs, remain accessible to create longer-term value.