We are excited to read about ‘Where to look for insight’ in Harvard Business Review’s November 2014 issue.
Of the 7 insight channels, research currently includes only 2 (Frustrations and Voyages to some extent). However, this article provides a great provocation for research to go beyond these.
We have been operating several projects that have led us to look beyond the category when seeking insights in research (we blogged about this: Creative structuring, Inspiration during the research process, July 2014 and Serendipity in research, October 2013). Since then we developed our thinking and coined and presented the idea of Emergent research at Qual360 conference 2014 in Singapore.
Emergent research is about finding the future in the present. Here briefly is the core idea of Emergent research.
Why Emergent research?
Current times are complex for 3 key reasons:
- It’s a world like we have never seen before
- A world of disruption
- A world of accelerating change
Research today is quite linear where it becomes a filter between client/brand or business objective and the consumer. And all of this operates within the confines of the category. The issue with this linearity is that we can only improve to find better tools and means of getting deeper insights.
However in a complex world, deeper insights is not the real answer. Rather we need to broaden our scope of enquiry for more disruptive thinking.
And that is why foresight is important. Here let us clarify that foresight is not so much about predicting or spotting trends but about developing future possibilities and then putting plans into place to make this future happen. Therefore Emergent research.
What is Emergent research?
It is about possibilities that emerge from change. So rather than focusing on understanding the current it focuses on understanding the changes that will impact the future.
In Emergent research we go beyond consumers and current category confines to look at the relevant change agents. Provocative enquiries with these change agents and immersion into the changing world can lead to questioning current assumptions and therefore opens out the opportunity space for disruptive thinking.
The key characteristics of Emergent research:
So very much like an atom we need to think about the business goal as the starting point but then work out from there. We need to expand our field of enquiry to look at the emerging change that can give us an inkling of how the field force is changing and how a brand can capitalize on it and create a future from that.
Finally, beyond research companies modifying their perspective and approaches, it is important that clients also step away to re think how they are phrasing their research needs, the questions they are asking.