Our Principles: Team Sport Research
For a UX research or design thinking program to be impactful, it must empower a diverse stakeholder group to observe users in depth and frequently, and to analyze and solve problems collaboratively — supported by expert facilitation.
Depth of Observation
- Consultants conduct the research and share highlights and clips in a report and debrief.
- Result: Your stakeholder team gains a superficial understanding of users and their needs.
- Your team observes significant amounts of raw user research directly and in depth.
- Result: Stakeholders develop a deep understanding of users and their needs.
Diversity of Stakeholders
- The stakeholder team that watches extended research is limited to researchers and designers.
- Result: Development and product teams fail to align with UX researchers and designers on many critical decisions.
- Non-designers, including developers, product owners, and management, are part of the team gaining in-depth exposure to users.
- Result: Teams develop a shared understanding about users and reach consensus on key decisions more often.
Frequency of Observation
- Most stakeholders’ research exposure is limited to large, ad hoc and infrequent studies — twice a year at best.
- Result: It is easy to ignore persistent problems and forget about user needs.
- Over time the diverse stakeholder teams watch at least 2-3 hours of testing every 6 weeks.
- Result: It is hard to ignore persistent problems — and easy to keep an accurate picture of users in mind.
- Consultants analyze and synthesize the research and share their problem findings in a report and debrief.
- Result: Stakeholders often hear what they want to hear, and dismiss findings that contradict their assumptions. Disagreement about top problems persists.
- Consultants teach stakeholders design thinking techniques and facilitate a structured process to analyze and synthesize problem findings as a team.
- Result: False stakeholder assumptions die quickly, and the team gets on the same page about the biggest problems worth solving.
- Consultants brainstorm ideas and recommend solutions in a report or debrief — sometimes supported by sketches or wireframes.
- Result: Stakeholders dismiss solutions they don’t like — often rightly so. But because they lack the research context and/or design skills, they struggle to generate alternative solutions that move the needle.
- Consultants lead stakeholders through a step-by-step process to generate, sketch, combine, and critique ideas — both individually and in small teams.
- Because they generated the solutions themselves, teams are more likely to implement them. And because those solutions embraced design thinking and the diverse knowledge of the team, they succeed more often.
Consultant Role & Value
- Consultants focus on 1) analyzing research, 2) designing solutions, 3) and presenting reports. Their value lies in UX expertise plus their ability to persuade others.
- Result: Relationships are often tense. Clients “just don’t get” consultants’ advice; consultants “just don’t get” the client’s business/IT constraints. Consultants are “arrogant”, clients are “dismissive”.
- Consultants focus on 1) exposing teams to users, 2) teaching design thinking, and 3) creating a habit of user research. Their value lies in facilitation, empowerment, and program-building.
- Result: Because the client is an active player throughout the process, both sides work through disagreements in real time, with data. Relationships are more harmonious and productive.