Research defined for success

Research (Dark Art)The systematic investigation into and study of materials and sources in order to establish facts and reach new conclusions.

Research can be seen as a bit of a dark art. After all, where do you start?

When you search for Research, the Wikipedia entry is often the most popular, however what does it mean in terms you can easily understand and relate to?

Well, let’s begin.

researchResearch isn’t just about finding a solution, being systemic, you have to start at the beginning.


Most people will solutionise. They see the opportunity to provide a solution, and jump straight to the conclusion that following ‘this’ path is the answer.


However, the most important part of any solution, is identifying, understanding and defining the problem.



The first part of any research is about identifying the problem:

  • What is the problem
  • Why is it a problem
  • Where is it a problem
  • Who is it a problem for
  • When is it a problem
  • How is it a problem

1. What is the Problem?

Try to define the problem in as simple a way as possible through the use of a simple problem statement. Try not to use ‘buzzwords’. Yes, you should use language that is audience appropriate, but who is really your audience?

Suggestion: If you had to tell your customer what the problem is, how would you explain it to them?

2. Why is it a Problem?

Understand whether the problem you’re looking at is actually the issue. Is this problem indicative of a larger issue within the business?
Suggestion: Put the problem in the context of the wider business, are you focussing on the right problem?

3. Where is it a Problem?

Identify where in the business the problem occurs. Consider whether it is an internal or external facing problem. If it impacts the customer experience, it might have a higher priority

Suggestion: Consider all the different touchpoints the problem has, do you know the pain points?

4. Who is it a problem for?

Identify users affected by the problem, it’s important you know as many as possible. You wouldn’t want to miss a user, it may be your most important one!

Suggestion: Write down every person who may be linked to the problem, how will you validate it?

5. When is it a problem?

Know when the problem occurs. Does it happen at specific times or is it a general problem across the year. It might not just be at a certain time, there may be other reasons the problem occurs.

Suggestion: Have all the other factors that could exacerbate the problem been identified? What if your problem only occurred for 2 weeks a year, but had a massive impact on the business?

6. How is it a problem?

Identify what impact it has on the business, and what that impact could be in the future. Consider and plan the fallout if your competitors or customers knew what the problem was.

Suggestion: You can’t plan for every eventuality, but understanding how it can affect the business can lead to improvements in your strategy. How do you prioritise your problems?

Now to Research

Now the problem has been defined, the next step is to research potential solutions. This can take time, or in the start-up world, can be the easiest solution to bypass the problem.