Forget about Research — Focus on Verstehen
Early this month, David Blackwell, a prominent statistician and mathematician died at the age of 91. For many he is well known because he was the first African American to be elected to the National Academy of Sciences. For others, he is well known because he wrote an important and early book about Bayesian statistics, a type of statistics that is becoming central to market research.
For those of us at Versta Research, he is well known for his focus on understanding versus research:
“Basically, I’m not interested in doing research and I never have been,” he said. “I’m interested in understanding, which is quite a different thing. And often to understand something you have to work it out yourself because no one else has done it.” (From an interview cited in the New York Times)
Why are we inspired by this? Because even though we are interested in doing research, we do it for one reason: To understand things. In fact, we named our company from the social science concept (and German word) “verstehen” which means to understand.
Fundamentally, we define our work not by proprietary methods, or the specific tools that we use or develop, or the statistical procedures we implement. We define it by our interest in and approach to understanding. And that, of course, means using, learning, developing, and inventing whatever tools, processes, data collection techniques, and analysis that will get good answers. In short, to achieve understanding, we do research.
Understanding is the outcome. That’s what we really care about (and what you really care about) and what motivates our work. Research is the means to that end.
If you have not done so, take a look at the homepage of our website. It’s all about understanding. We are committed to helping you understand:
- Your clients
- Your prospects
- The public
- Your competition
- Your customers
- Your data
- Your products
- Your image
- The world
If and when research can help you understand, we are here to help.
—Joe Hopper, Ph.D.