Research is a scientific endeavor that involves clear objectives and systematic processes. Below we will lay out the first four steps involved when conducting any research project, whether it be traditional research or by using a market research online community or experience management platform. The goal being to gather, and analyze data so that you can make confident predictions of what the data is telling you.
Step 1: Spot the Problem
As Charles Kettering a head engineer at GM once said, ‘A problem well stated is a problem half-solved.’ The first step in the process is to clearly identify a problem and develop a question around the problem. This problem is likely unique to your company, and once solved may be used to identify a trend.
Step 2: Review Existing Material That Pertains to the Problem
Before the researcher sets out to conduct primary research, they should first gather existing research done on the subject or similar subjects. By reviewing the literature the researcher can educate themselves on what studies in the past have been conducted and the conclusions that have formed around the topic. The information gathered on the subject can help the researcher fully understand the challenges involved.
Step 3: Clarify the Problem
Part of the initial challenge is narrowing the scope of the problem. This step requires the researcher to narrow the focus to one particular problem. Often there are too many sub-problems that can distract and you. You must realize that you are there to solve one problem and you must stay focused.
Step 4: Clearly Define Terms and Concepts
Before you embark on any study you must clearly define the terms and concepts around the study. Individuals may see one term and think something, while another person reads the same term and thinks of something else. In layman's terms think about the term "Christmas Holidays," for some people that term might evoke feelings of excitement and joy, while another it might conjure up feelings of loneliness and despair. Terms and concepts can be understood differently to different people, that is why you must be clear in the terms and concepts you will be exploring.
While the need for corporate research is becoming more demanding, with companies wanting data faster and faster, it is imperative to stick to key principles when you are looking to tackle a specific problem within your company. Whether you are using traditional methods of surveys and in-person focus groups, or more modern methods such as online surveys, and online focus groups, both require clear objectives and systematic processes to ensure that your results are solid and that you can present with confidence.
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