Stop wasting money on research …

14 Aug 2018 | Research & Business Knowledge

It might be controversial.  But I believe much of the research we commission isn’t necessary.  Very often we have the answers to new questions buried in past research.  Or freely available in the market.

By revisiting your overlooked and underutilised research, you can answer these new questions.  You can reinvigorate old insight to drive new decisions.  And you can build new stories.

Very often we have the answers to new questions buried in past research

For me, it’s a bit like cooking.

You can follow a recipe.  You buy the ingredients, you follow the instructions for how to chop, combine and cook.  And in the end, you (hopefully) have a delicious meal.

But it’s expensive to buy all those ingredients.  And the trip to the shops, preparation and cooking takes a lot of time.

Or you can take a different approach.  You can look at what you already have, in your cupboard or fridge.  You can be creative and make something from what’s already there.

This is my favourite type of cooking.  It’s more resourceful.  It saves time and money.  And you always discover new flavour combinations.

In the context of research, those new flavours are new insights.  And (if it’s not over-milking the metaphor!) we’ve got to them by revisiting what’s in our research cupboard, our data drawers and our insight files.

Shed has developed a tried and tested method for this… 

  • We EXPLORE to understand what’s there by interviewing stakeholders and theming existing research
  • We EXTRACT by diving deeper, revisiting raw data and running further analysis
  • We ENHANCE what’s there by filling gaps in knowledge with new primary research
  • And then we ELEVATE to give clear direction and board-ready outputs.

This approach has seen Shed shortlisted for MRS Awards in 2016 and 2017.   Shed has also helped build the the business case for a new municipal energy company Bristol Energy as well as revisiting the Money Advice Service’s financial capability data to understand more about older people in retirement.  In both cases, we looked again at existing research and only conducted new primary research to plug gaps in our knowledge.

Waste is never good.  Ask yourself whether every piece of research you’re conducting is necessary.  Whether you could do more with what you (or your client) already have.

Waste is never good. Ask yourself whether every piece of research you’re conducting is necessary

Next time you get a new brief, don’t reach for a recipe.  Look at what you’ve got in your cupboard instead.

Dan Young, Shed.  To read his blog, click here.