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How to Build a Foundation for Agile Research

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Agile research is an exciting and useful tool for many organizations but getting started with it can be the largest hurdle to overcome. Between resistance from leadership or your own team, the overwhelm of selecting the right agile research technology, and understanding the right places to use agile research, there’s a lot that goes into this transformation. 

Assess the current state of your organization’s research process to make it more manageable. Specifically, you should identify your team or company’s strengths, challenges, and priorities. 

If your goal is to “become more agile,” why? Define what agility means to you. This will look different for every organization.  

How to Define Your Agile Research Purpose 

  • What timing constitutes “agile”? Do you need data within an hour, a day or a week?  
  • Would agile research ideally make it possible to test all consumer-facing projects? Or would 80 percent or even 50 percent be the target you hope to reach?  
  • How often during the creative/product/marketing development processes would agile research enable you to get feedback? Are you looking to bump up from once to twice? Or would you like it to be three or even 10 times? 

A helpful tool in determining your organization’s agile readiness is this short quiz, which you can use to identify your strengths and weaknesses. You may find that there are some challenges that will need to be addressed in order to effectively implement agile research.  

It will also be imperative to understand the strengths of your current team and processes. Why? McKinsey found that transformations emphasizing both strengths and challenges are three times more likely to succeed.  

Signs of an Agile-Ready Team or Organization 

  • A highly collaborative work environment 
  • Eagerness to learn new skills or try new tools 
  • Adaptability to new situations or changing priorities 
  • Appetite for more consumer feedback 
  • Iterative approaches to projects already in place for stakeholder feedback 

Next, you need to ask yourself how your organization incorporates technology. Understanding what has or hasn’t worked with past technology integrations allows you to design your implementation strategy in a way that will be best received by those affected. Questions to ask here include: 

  • Is your team tech-savvy, traditional, or a combination thereof?
  • Does your existing research process use any technologies, or does it use more traditional methods (mail, phone, in-person qualitative, etc.)?
  • What other technologies does your team or organization currently use that have been successfully implemented?
  • How has your team adapted to using modern technologies? Were team members easily frustrated or eager to learn?

With a strong grasp on where your organization stands in its goals and attitudes toward technology and research you can assess your needs. From there, find the gaps in your research process to see how becoming more agile can help address them.  

Signs You Need Agile Research 

  • Slow decision-making 
  • Long creative/product/marketing development cycles 
  • Lack of accountability when a project is unsuccessful 
  • Difficulty identifying top priorities or concerns for customers 
  • Poor communication or transparency between the insights team and the end-users of research 

Identify your top three pain points and focus on those to begin your transformation. As you address the components above, continue to assess your challenges as well as new strengths that will help you achieve your vision. With this foundation, your odds of successfully implementing agile research and reaping its associated benefits become much greater.  

Read on to Step 2: