This Is What Actionable Research Looks Like
For people who love research, the most depressing thing is to produce a report that nobody cares about. It hits with a thud, or sits on a shelf. Nobody bothers to look, or to offer an encouraging word of thanks, much less acknowledge how fantastic it is.
Hence the cliched claims of “actionable insights” from every market research firm on the planet, as if there is some magic formula that can make research jump off a shelf. In fact, every data platform, every analytics tool, every new company … even doctors are now hopping onto the actionability bandwagon. I heard this yesterday: “This disease is not curable and not treatable, but it is actionable.”
But what in tarnation does that ugly and overused word “actionable” mean? Usually it means nothing. It has become an empty word people feel obliged to say when talking about research or insights. But sometimes it means a lot, and we can actually see what actionable research looks like. I got just such a glimpse this week from a colleague at Conifer, a research, strategy, and design firm we often partner with. She had taken the report we produced, printed it out, and pasted the pages on her wall. Here is a picture of her wall.
Multiple pages ripped from the report and posted along side her own. Color-coded sticky notes and mark-ups that highlight items of special importance. Imagine looking closer and seeing thought bubbles, maps of next steps and implications, recommendations, more questions and so on.
This is what actionable research looks like. Somebody does something with the research that is integral to her job. It does not sit on a shelf. It gets used.
It’s too soon to say whether this research will make it’s way to the corporate board room and drive a new breakthrough product for the research sponsor. That would be cool if it did. But either way, this research is being used and acted upon, which is exactly what we love to see.
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