Narrow your research, if you want to go deep.

“We’d like to investigate this. Oh, and it would also be great to find out more about this. And a few members of the team thought it would be really interesting to explore this.” 

When your product is new, or your team is new, or you’re just getting started with your business, you want to know everything. When you’ve been thrown into chaos by an unforeseen event, the same can happen. Any market information could be useful. All customer insights might be relevant. As a consequence, we often meet new clients, new teams, or founders, who want to look at a really big basket of questions. Sounds fair, doesn’t it? They have a lot to learn. So what’s the issue? 

The issue is that the other shoe usually drops, right about then. The client says, “And we really want you to do a deep dive on this.” 

The fact of the matter is, giant companies who can afford massive amounts of data, may be able to afford to be wasteful with their investigations. They may be able to “go deep” on a lot of different topics, all at once. If you look carefully, though, you’ll usually find that there are many teams, each going deep on a topic or two. If your company is small, you risk learning a little about a lot, and a lot…about nothing. 

How can you mitigate this risk? These four steps that can help:

  1. Make some calculated assumptions.
  2. Establish hypotheses to validate or invalidate with the respondents.
  3. Look at some secondary data and see if you can’t do some narrowing down or elimination on your own. 
  4. Choose the slice that, if the answers turn out to not be as you had hoped, would have the worst outcome. If there are rate-limiting or business-limiting questions, get them out of the way as soon as possible, so you can turn your attention elsewhere. 

So the next time you want to “go deep” in your customer understanding, narrow things down first. If you forget everything else, try this rule of thumb when you decide whether you want to look at something deeply, or in its entirety: Microscopes are tiny. Telescopes are big. 

I’m Megann Willson and I’m one of the Partners at PANOPTIKA. We work with our clients to help them see everything they need to make better decisions – using better data, a better approach, or a better frame of reference. You can also follow us on TwitterFacebook, or LinkedIn.  For more news you can use to help you or your team to make better decisions, click the handy button, below.