Episode 52 highlights – Roy Opata Olende podcast about ResearchOps & Scaling UX Research:
- “Zoom” levels of research and what they mean
- Figuring out when to do certain types of research and which methods to use
- Ways to avoid wasting resources and repeating research
- What’s the difference between UX Research and ResearchOps?
- How to you know when you need a dedicated ResearchOps person
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(this transcript was automatically created using our very own transcription feature in Aurelius and has been minimally edited, please excuse any typos or weirdness 😀 )
Hey Roy. Hey, how’s it going? Not bad about yourself. I’m doing really well. Yeah, glad to hear that. I of course appreciate you taking the time jumping on to be part of our show, chat with me about research, research Ops all this kind of stuff. I know you’ve been you’ve been writing about this for a while. You’ve been talking about it. You even have your own podcast where you discuss some of the stuff so that I’m pretty excited to chat with you more about this.
Yes, I’m awesome. Say you know before we kind of get into it, for sure. Maybe introduce yourself to folks talk a little bit about, you know, your background, kind of what you do. Just in case, somebody doesn’t know who you are already. Yeah, absolutely. So I go by Roy or opaka on my middle name. I currently work at zapier which is a SAS company focused on Automation and my role right now is leading research operations but also just
Type of interim, head of research as well. So I do have a background in ux research. I did ux research sort of random practice at another size company called buffer before joining xàbia. So I’ve been able to dabble in both ux research and research operations. So all things research basically is is sort of my my sweet spot before that the Consulting sort of like a most service design focused Consulting. And and yeah, really enjoy this space, really enjoy.
Learning about people’s perspectives on tools, they use and just being surprised by, you know, by conversations. So, yeah, really, really enjoy this space. So that’s, that’s some of the work I do and where I worked before. Awesome. I appreciate you sharing the background. You know, one of the things that I kind of like to ask some folks, to, and I would ask you because you’ve got a pretty varied background. You know, you didn’t just come straight into sort of researches. How did you get started, right? How did you decide that was?
The thing I actually really like doing. Yeah. Death May stumble through a bunch of different roles and thought my my career would end up in different spots along the way. So struck by sort of really early University days, I wanted to be in medicine. Sports Medicine, did do the pre-med three years in realized this sucks. I don’t want to do this. I feel like, let me let me actually. Not only it sucks. I feel like it’s a calling. So, my mother is, is a surgeon and so I know what it’s like to like.
To do at least that type of medicine that she does and I was like this, this really needs to be something I really want to pursue. So I realize I don’t wanna pursue this switched over to business, which all my dad does did a masters and income as organization and management and and then pivoted pretty quickly. After I graduated from my Master’s to work in the not-for-profit world and and that was really great, really enjoyed it. But you know about four years in my wife and I were
Is pregnant and I needed to make enough money to take care, the family, nonprofit worlds, great. But sometimes you don’t get great pay and was pursuing opportunities in what I did for my masters and ended up, starting to do Consulting, just for like friends who are running companies a few months into it. I realized oh I’m a consultant I guess. And so originally focused, set of around Employee Engagement and org design are sort of stuff and about a year in realize, it’s nice to do this, but I’m also seeing a lot of folks, don’t think deeply
About that customer. So started to really connect with people and service design and really get into that that sort of field and and so that’s what sort of Drew Me Away from the employee side, towards the customer side of things and did that for a while, sort of burnt out and Consulting and was thinking about the next thing. And and that’s when the opportunity with buffer, the last company I worked at came about so they were looking for someone who knew about research, I was mowing the customer research side but they’re open to having someone
Who came in with a different perspective and so that’s how I got into into ux research and sort of, you know, join join that team ended up leading the u.s. practice their did some really cool work and then wrapped up then came to zapier. So, so coming into ux research, you know, it was, it was sort of like stumbling into this need. I saw in companies where did Consulting where they, they weren’t thinking deeply about their customers, they weren’t thinking deeply about their use.
Sirs. And so I just proactively reach out to people who are in that space learn from them. There’s some experimentation it, some Consulting and then switch gears into SAS world when I when I joined a buffer, that’s, that’s really interesting and almost sounds to me like, you know, your background as you describe, it is is why I switched to business and that’s that’s kind of what your dad didn’t. So you kind of got into that and looking at like how businesses work and maybe
Even sounds like in some ways operations of the business, right? And then you realize, well, you’re not really thinking about the operations of how you serve customers deeply enough. And I mean, I don’t want to put words in your mouth, but maybe like because I know this was true for me. I didn’t have a language for ux and ux research when I started. But then again, this was a long time ago to, you know, and it sounds like maybe that was the case for you but you just recognize this problem or you know, opportunity to help ya no way.
And it was ux researcher design research or any of that stuff. Absolutely. And I think it’s interesting to come in as an outsider to these companies where they’re very focused on a single singular problem with it. Obviously had enough, it takes a lot for a company to bring in a consultant, right? Like they’ve had enough pain there where they’ve gone, we can solve this ourselves. We need to bring someone else in. And then to observe as an outsider actually what people in the company really think and really feel, right? So the leaders might think this is like purely an employee engagement problem or an old design.
Robin you speak to people and they go, you know, I’d really love to focus more on on the problems that our customers have. Like if we could fix that stuff, I’d actually be really a be more engaged in my work. I’d be more excited about what we’re doing, you know? So yeah, I didn’t quite have a language to it. It took it took like definitely about six months of just digging around figuring stuff out. Speaking to people to begin to go. I think this is like service design /, customer research. So,is something here and so yeah, I think I agree with you that I couldn’t. It took a while to articulate what I was hearing from people inside companies and also the opportunity that was there to help companies in this in that space. Yeah absolutely. And I don’t think I don’t think that that’s uncommon at all right. Like I know that you talked with a lot of people in our field or industry I don’t think that at all. It is in the majority of cases where people go, oh well I heard about this.
And I decided I was really going to be into that and then I started doing it. It’s I actually think more often than not, it’s very similar to your story where. Hmm, you know, you’re doing something that you’ve probably interested in passionate about. Yeah, then on the periphery is this thing. And there’s not enough focus on the customer and you’re not talking to them enough and it just seems so obvious. And if you’ve kind of got that as you would say calling to it, you just sort of recognize that and say, well we got to do that better. And then all of a sudden you look into the work that a lot of people who’ve come before us have even done, right?
And really helping everybody understand what this means in the you go. Okay, now you’re speaking my language, for sure. Hmm. Yeah, it’s nice to finally find that sweet spot where I think, I think I really happen when I was at buffer was like okay. I think I think my understanding this a lot better now like this ability to to dive into what customers need. But also the ability to work with teams to like bring something that is going to address those needs. Yeah it’s great to find that spot. Totally and I’m actually glad you
Write buffer up again because as you were talking about your transition into that, it almost sounds like you started your career like very highly in the generative type research space rate like and in buffers case, I know that they’re a successful company. Certainly but you know on the other hand of that they’re still fairly new you know as yeah you would consider maybe companies and I don’t think that they had any trouble with product-market fit to say, but rather like still getting their legs of what their product is the
All value, it delivers and all the opportunities they might have it kind of sounds to me like that’s where you really started your research work which to me is the most exciting kind of research. Yeah. Is that fair? I think it really helped that the co-founders valued research like they saw. I think sometimes you have companies where the founders understand a certain space and you get into it and you sort of, you know, got that problem, I could fit, you can to grow a company but then the connection to customers gets further and further, as you
Team grows. So you’re getting further and further from those Founders directly solving problems to the, the team solving problems. And I think it buffer, one of the things specially early days, was the co-founders really understood the importance of having that connection having an understanding. Yeah, I think I’ve spoken to many teams where research comes in and it’s essentially a p.m. saying Hey or designer, could you go test this thing? Make sure that, you know, it’s
It’s heading in the right direction. Whereas we definitely had a very collaborative setup where between the p.m. we had these pods with a p.m. a designer, a data scientist engineers, and a researcher to go out and solve problems in certain spaces. So the value of research was was significantly higher than what I’ve seen in other companies, as their starting up, their research practice,
That’s definitely pretty interesting to hear about. I would love to. I’d love to learn a little bit more about that because one of the things I was going to ask you is, you know, and your experience there especially at buffer. How did you see sort of ushering this in, you know, bringing the whole company closer to the customer as they were growing and as they were hiring people because you said yourself like that’s absolutely an issue and I think we’ve all been part of it in some way. Yeah I think there’s different approaches to this. I think what what we sow is that in half
These for the product pods working together. It was essential to have someone who sort of had more ownership over diving into critical problems. So the so the p.m. and designer could sort of work on in their superpowers and in sort of the areas of greatest strength. So that was quite focused in on these specific product areas, I think the advantage that brought was a good depth of knowledge for these product teams and
they’re trying to do. So we had for researchers who work with these teams, I will say though, that there is a disadvantage to that, in that we didn’t have someone who was thinking, very holistically about like, what’s the entire experience. So, the advantage that we saw was certain teams having good depth of knowledge in that product areas and That’s essential. That’s, that’s really good. But I do want to emphasize, it’s not like the it was imperfect, right? So,
What we what we couldn’t do at that stage because we were sort of very embedded product area. Focused was actually more help the entire company grasp, what’s the holistic experience here? What’s it like for someone to come in to get started to go through the process to drop off or to continue? What was that feeling? What are the needs that, right? So it was it was good in that we were not just super Tactical.
In like, hey, do this usability test, think that’s a rough spot for people to start. It was sort of this intermediate spot where we could, we could help certain teams to get understanding. By that point we couldn’t help the entire company to understand really well, The Full Experience yeah, that, that really makes sense. And I mean, that’s kind of why I wanted to dig into your spirits at buffer to because it’s still, I would still have considered it a start-up maybe even still. But certainly during your time there because it was a few years ago now, right? Yeah.
And myself obviously working in a start-up now. But but many times even in my career sort of prior to Aurelius and working at other startups and that’s that’s something that I’ve seen as well where you kind of you get to this intermediate spot you know as you were saying and you’re doing really good work maybe on an area of the product because they’ve established these product teams. But what you’re missing is that is that sort of overarching understanding or cross, and I’m really glad you touched on that.
That I’m curious. If you were to look back, you know, sort of hindsight’s 20/20. As the saying goes, if you were to look back and just say, well, here’s the way I think we could have addressed that. Do you, what advice, might you give to those teams or, or that organization to say, here’s how you can kind of close that Gap? Mmm. Yeah, I think
I think there’s, there’s always, you know, if you want to the way I’ve talked about, this is sort of like the analogy of like, you know, being in a plane when you’re on the ground, when you’re sort of like, taking off Midway through that ascent and then when you’re cruising altitude, right? So 30,000 feet, cruising altitude, it gives you a really good view far into the distance. You can see a lot of what’s happening. And you need someone or some
All to give you that view, you need a 30,000 foot view of the landscape. Like what’s happening in the market, how our customers generally, solving their problems, how can we sort of describe the critical jobs that our product or products serve and understand where we fit in all of that, right? So 30,000 feet, swirly important, the 10,000 foot view of, okay? Let’s say generally within this area or this set of jobs,
what are we looking like, what does up, what does our products? Do you again, how do we solve these problems? And how does that compare to the needs of our customers, right? And then you sort of have ground level actually doing the work, those product teams of understanding K. Here are the changes that we can make based on the needs that we’re seeing, right? So I think any company is going to need that differentiation or that Variety in their work, the 30,000 foot.
View the 10,000 foot View and the ground level. If you are missing any of those, you’re just missing out on the fullness of what research can bring to a company. The value that research can bring, and the potential impact of understanding customers at different levels. So, I think that’s sort of fundamentally been something that I learned quite early on at buffer and I think every company needs to have that approach in some way. Right? So yeah, that’s the journey. How I
About trying to structure research within a company so that it can be as valuable as possible. Yeah. Love that love that. If I were as my job is on our show to try to summarize what you said and kind of give it back, you know, for everybody listening to it’s really research can help. Provide research can provide value and being able to say, here’s where a company is, here’s where the market is, here are opportunities we can and it would make sense for us to solve.
Problems. Then it is that intermediately? A 10,000 foot layer. Here are the problems. Here’s how. Here’s what here’s the them. Well, defined on how we solve them. Then there’s the ground level of. Here’s how well we’re solving that problem. There’s this stuff where you’re talking about, you’re doing the usability testing to making sure you know. Like, it’s the evaluative stuff to say, well we’ve got the solution or we’re working on it actively and our can we tweak the mechanics of that to make sure it’s as good as possible? Yeah, I think that’s something.
Well, is that a fair summary? Yeah. That’s and it totally makes sense. You know, I guess the question I would have follow on to that for you is
Is that the same person who’s doing all of that work? Is that, is that different people, was that different teams and, you know, just kind of curious how you seen that work. And what you might recommend to, somebody listening to this, because I’m sure everybody’s, you know, because our folks, everybody’s listen us to chat right now, our ux research pokes product, hoping they’re all like, yeah, of course, we should do that. They’re thinking about, well, how do we actually get that done, right? Yeah, I think I think it’s very tough for one person to do all those things.
So, you think of a start-up a different stages, you know? That’s, let’s say, you know, this is just, let’s just use a number of employees as a way to classify startups, right? So let’s say, I get less less than 20 21 and 50 50 to 250 and, and more, right? When you’re at that stage where less than 20, I think, you know, that 10,000 foot View and ground level is like really important. Like you’re trying to probably still at the problem.
Good fit level. You’re trying to just grow and see if like there is this is viable in the markets going to be valuable right? I think it’s really tough to focus on the 30,000 foot level of the value of that is is sort of tough to tough to translate, right. And I think as you grow the again, the the distance of teams from the customer, it’s very easy for teams to get distant. And to the value of having that connection is really important. But
Concurrently there is a need to understand what’s happening more widely, especially for to translate this to Executives key team, members of like this is where we’re at. This is, this is really what’s happening in the market. These are the key problems that our customers have, right? And so it takes for one person to do that is as a company grows one. I think like if you’re at a hundred and you have one researcher that’s that’s like a really tough spot for that for that.
Such a every company is going to have different approaches, different models for how research works. So in the end, I think it’s going to be tougher, one person. I would say when you get to the scale where you do get the study thousand foot, ten thousand foot of ground level, to me, it seems obvious that you would, you would likely have different teams, focus on that work. You may have say a product, a product seen with a product manager and designer focus on that ground level stuff.
Right? So being able to evaluate what’s going on, rather they did, this is actually the direction to go down and make more sense than having a researcher dedicated to that within a team. And maybe the researcher works of the 10,000 sort of foot level with maybe, like, sort of, like the directors of product that sort of thing. But I think you’re still going to need a team or a person to focus, very high level and understand those problems translate that so that leaders can understand what’s happening with.
Was so all that to say it is very tough for one person to do it all. I think it’s possible when you’re small for one or a few people to to cover a couple of those levels. But I think you probably want to get to a place where different people or different teams can focus on each level.
Yeah that’s awesome. You know and as you were describing some of those challenges and possible approaches to doing that for me it sounded like it was actually starting to touch on Research operations in this world that we are talking about now which is actually still very new despite despite its growing popularity like within our industry and the niche of our industry. I think I think it’s still very new to a lot of people certainly organizations as a whole. Oh yeah, before we even really dig into that.
I would one thing I would like to ask you is just as somebody who’s worked in research Ops, if somebody were to ask you what is research Ops, right? The Perennial question was, how would you answer that? Yeah, I would say reach jobs. My definition of it is creating the infrastructure to make research happen at scale. So it is very easy to have lots of people doing research in a company and have them doing it in their own ways.
He’s right. So let’s let’s think about this from its use. Let’s use an analogy, right? So you know, you have
You have like this is say a large patch of land, right? That you know people people are given the tassel like oh yeah go ahead and explore this land, right? And so they have a bunch of maybe SUVs that bunch of jeeps and they can just like drive through it. And some Forest there’s maybe some swampy sort of areas and and they can go and explore. Right? And so each person sort of has the tools to do it. They can go out and and
This exploration right? Each of them charts their own path, and even though it’s sort of fun, it’s also a little messy, right? So, it’s a lot tougher to like, drive through swampy land or, or drive through some some like, foresti area than it is to drive on a road, right? So essential would research Ops does is okay. Before you go out and explore, this line is we’re going to do. We’re going to like jump out there.
We’re going to build a few roads, so, you know, you can actually drive through a bit smoother. You can see each other, we’re going to put up signs. So, you know, like it’s probably best to drive this speed in this area because it’s very windy. It’s a bit mountainous, right? We’re going to build some bridges. So you don’t have to drive over the swamp land, like make sure it’s a bit easier for you and maybe a bit of a strange way to describe. I think what research Ops does is essentially just build
the required infrastructure. So that folks can do this work. A lot easier. It’s it’s a smoother process and there is a unified understanding of how we’re doing this. I think that’s probably the key thing is I could really creating this shared understanding of how we approach this work as you begin to scale, as you growing your company, it is very easy for a lot of valuable work too.
Get missed a lot of work to be replicated, you know. One person who drove through that swamp land is like oh like I’m the first person he is awesome and drives her wild and realize oh there’s someone else here. Alright. And if you don’t know what’s going on it’s really tough like you waste resources really easily. So some of the work I do is stuff like training folks. So that we you know we know we understand collectively what research is about.
Out putting together process so that you’re not replicating or coming up with your own method of learning because other teams want to learn from you as well, right? Freaking out ways for people to share research really well so that we have this shared brain and maybe someone in marketing who thought about an idea doesn’t have to go out and hire a marketing agency to go and do that investigation. Because guess what? There was a those of ux research team that touched on something that very much.
Plays to your marketing program, right? So you can sort of go out and Wild West,
everyone do their own thing, it’s not going to be invaluable, but it’s going to be very inefficient, and it’s going to be really annoying for folks. So put in the infrastructure, do that work. So that it’s a lot easier for us and we take it for granted because it bring it back to like this, this thought of driving, right? We take it for granted. That we have roads that we have highways
I mean, someone thought ahead and did that so they wouldn’t take take us 15 hours to drive. Something that on the highway not takes an hour, right? So long-winded way of saying what research operations is all about. It’s just the infrastructure. I love it. No. And because I’m personally, a huge fan of analogy. I actually really like the sort of Transportation in like
You know, road infrastructure example or analogy you would draw to that because that’s absolutely right. I mean in many cases, I think before we had a as we were talking about earlier a language to describe this problem. So now we’re talking about it as research Ops I think before you ex researchers were trying to be the chauffeur, the personal chauffeur the analogy for everything, for all the insights and information that happened in the organization, but then also they were Market researchers, and you have one sales and other, you know,
Other product other people in the organization, everybody was trying to be personal chauffeur. But then we realized, you know, we’re actually all taking different paths to the same destination. What we could do again using your analogy go to Highway and then we all agree. This is the road, we take to get there and in fact, here’s the vehicles that fit on that road and here’s the speed limit, you know? Because it’s safe. Nothing like that makes sense.
No, nachos. I thought about it on the spot, I’m glad resonated a little bit. I wasn’t sure if I was going down the right Road it sticks. No pun intended. What’s your third quarter? I regretted it. As soon as I said, I love it, I love it. Okay, well so enough for the analogy, totally on board with that building, you know, research Ops is building the infrastructure for research to happen. Well,
Well, for it to happen, efficiently for us to, you know, reduce the churn our resources and re doing research and stuff like that as you’re doing this in, because you’re kind of knee-deep in this problem right now. Are you working on this? What’s the first thing that comes to mind? And says, you know, for me this is the thing I have to work with every day or is the biggest challenge that I have to overcome doing that kind of work. Yeah, the biggest thing is like, like first have to understand
If I understand the problem you have to understand the landscape so that you can figure out what needs to happen. I think one one of the tricky things especially with a new practice and your right click, this is a super super young practice. Like we are in our infancy when it comes to research jobs and a tough thing that’s very it’s sort of a temptation. Is liked to just apply a Playbook that’s work.
Somewhere else like research, Works differently in different companies. So I think that the biggest thing to, for folks, to understand when it comes to research UPS is like you first need to understand the landscape within your own company, who does research when, do they do research? How do they do research? Why why, is that happening? What’s planned for the future, where’s the company going, and what’s going to be needed? What kind of research needs to happen? So that the company can achieve its goals, right? And that needs to be
First thing that undergirds research Ops because only ones who understood understood the landscape. Go back to the analogy of like, okay, what do we need to build already? You know, you don’t need to build a bridge over over straight land. That’s that’s that’s dry, you need to build a bridge of a water or like something it’s not easy for vehicle to navigate trade, so understanding the state of research and understanding what needs to happen. Sort of is the first thing, right? And I think then is when
you begin to dive in and go. Okay. I’m going to sort of begin to solve the priority problems. What gets mentioned. The most with these research Ops I think is two problems, one is Knowledge Management. Like how do we, how do we sort of gain the shared, understanding of all the research that’s happening and it’s happened in the past and recruitment so Knowledge Management because it’s really messy to figure that out, right? And include moment because it’s really annoying. No one wants to sit there and do research admin reaching out to
People responding to messages scheduling calls all that stuff, right? So those tend to be the two biggest problems that are identified when when folks are considering research Ops and they may be what you end up tackling first. But I think the biggest thing is to understand the landscape and opportunities in the short term, I think one thing to highlight two with research Ops is it’s very different to like pure research, right? So,
so research is about going out, figuring out problems and sharing the insights around around. These needs around these problems, research Ops is about, delivering a service, right? And soon as you get into that delivery mode for something that people are using and like, you’re into a different mode, right? Like you have to actually, you know, you actually have to create something that’s going to get feedback that people are going to use, right? And that that feedback
That back-and-forth is very different for folks. That’s also want to highlight that even though it has the word research in it, research Ops is a totally different practice. Like don’t expect that you’re going to do, ux research, and then come to research jobs will be like, oh yeah, this sort of the same thing. The very different, right? Much like, driving a car is very different to building a road. It takes different skill, sets and different tools. So I think those two things like one, like understanding the the landscape is super important and
Understanding that this is a totally different job than research is is really important. Yeah. Now that’s, that’s really good. I think that’s such an important distinction to make because there’s a lot of people who I think might have the impression that research Ops is just kind of a new buzzword type thing in the ux research world and it’s very much not true. You know, so earlier we were talking about having a calling or having a passion for me, I would draw the distinction.
You know, on one end with ux research, you have a passion for doing research with people and understanding their needs and turning that into insights recommendations actions. Right with research Ops your passion. Probably is delivering research at an organization right? Allowing it to happen. Efficiently like your passion needs to be making sure that runs smoothly. Not, yeah, getting great insights and doing great research so to speak. Yeah.
There’s you know this sort of this this angle of like you like to grease the wheels you like to support right? Like I think someone who thrives in research UPS is not someone who
Sara Lee loves the Limelight because there’s, there’s not a lot of lime, like, Sittin in this work. You, you are very much another analogy. I like to talk about is like, you know, research Ops as research as the band on stage, you know, you know, they are very talented and what they do and almost like, a main attraction and research Ops as as the road crew, you know, setting up setting up the speaker’s, setting up the staging.
Setting up all the sound like you’re doing all the work before the crowd comes so the crowd, hasn’t see you, right? If people who really appreciate you, the band, right? Right. The band are like so, you often see this Dynamic where, you know, the bands are traveling and doing concerts doing during the shows around the world, whether it’s a world tour or like a country to her and they get really close to the crew, right? Because you spend all this time,
And the band appreciates the crew for what the crew does, no one else appreciates the crew, right? And and that’s the dynamic with research option, research the researchers value, what you do, yes. But it’s very likely that someone who doesn’t do research. It doesn’t know who you are and really doesn’t care about what you do. They see the impact of what you do through. Really good research really consistent research.
But that’s a really tough tough thing. It’s like you have to be okay with not being in the Limelight because your work is going to be hidden. The people who value you, they are in the minority, but they really value. They, they love you think they are absolutely over the moon to have you there yet? Yeah. It’s very different to being able to deliver public research that perhaps makes an impact on strategy or makes an impact on the product Direction.
Yeah, that I makes total sense again, I love the analogy, I love analogies in general and that one that really works and so it’s a perfect opportunity for me to use it to talk to you about something else too. Because so, you used it as a band and then there’s a road crew and sort of like the stage crew and they handle all of that. Well, when a bands, just first starting up, the band, typically sets, all that stuff out, right? Yes. And that’s kind of how this goes and, and I think that that’s very common in newer team.
Teams and even especially of course, newer companies. There’s just less manpower to go around right. There’s less elbow grease to go around and so we find are those. Those people doing the work, doing the research also doing the operations, of course, you know. So you’re yes, you’re the musician. But you got to set up the stage. Yeah. So I’m kind of curious. You know what’s your experience there and in particularly the question I have is when is it right? You know, to bring in research obser really, really focus on that. It’s very biased.
Question. Yeah, it’s get anyway. I think what stands out to me is it’s, it’s time to bring in research Ops when sort of realize the value of you doing that back end, stuff, or that you don’t have enough time to do that. Enough of that, work to set you up to do. Good research, right? So, let’s, let’s, let’s return to the band, right? So, as
Lab and you start off and maybe you get to do a few little shows here and there and you know, you become more popular and instead of doing one show every week on the weekend at some spot you’re now doing five shows a week, right? So you’re traveling you have a little van or something and you realize that okay if we’re going to do five shows a week, okay, setting up, takes two hours, teardown takes two hours and the show is an hour. Okay. We
We have now five hours of solid work each day on top of driving on top of just like taking care of each other. And there’s probably like once you start to do two shows you like how we can do this. It’s so cool. You’re doing three shows. It’s like, super annoying but like we can still figure this out. You doing four shows a week. It’s like like now you’re getting too tired from all the setup and teardown to like actually do well.
When you’re actually playing the thing that you’re paid to do, right? And I think this happens in research as well where you doing, you’re doing the work and then, so I go, oh, we have so many more projects. The amount of time we’re doing, recruiting people. Like, that’s, that’s such a pain or and then, or did you share that work? Like what happened with what happened with like your report? I didn’t get to? It was like too much because as soon as I wrapped up that research and needed a jump on another
Such a need so the pain becomes acute. All right, like you feel the pain and the pain is actually stopping you from doing the thing that you want to do which is speaking to customers doing doing the important work of learning from them so that you can make improvements. So I think it’ll look a little bit different in each company but the consistent thing is like you begin to feel the pain, right? I
Ink. If you’re clever you identify the pain early, right? Instead of getting to this point where you have 20 researchers and it’s a mess, right? But I think the key question to ask, like, what was it like for your team to, to recruit people? And is that something, that is pretty standard and pretty easy for them? Or is there a lot of frustration around together? What’s it like for them to to share their work? Right is
Something that’s, that’s pretty easy or something, that’s becoming more difficult. What’s it like for product managers or marketers or designers like for them to interact with the research for them to, to do their own research? Yeah, if you’re finding that, it’s pretty tough in these sorts of areas. You hopefully seeing the beginnings of, you know, this this like momentum to get into having a research up research Ops person.
I think if you’re not, if you’re not feeling any pain, if your team is not sharing the day, spit that they Spain, then, then you, you may be in a good spot, right? I’ve spoken to people who as full-time ux, researchers are really passionate about operations, so they spent like half their time on operation stuff. And guess what there? Okay, because there’s someone in the team who’s really passionate about this world. Only have part of their work dedicated to UPS but even because they’re so passionate.
It will take extra time to like do operation stuff because it’s a fun thing for them. Right? Then you’re lucky because you have that person and you in a good place, right. But I think you want to be in a place where you can diagnose is because they’re real pain here and if there’s pain we need to do something about it. That’s a very fair answer. Very, very answered, the, especially that it’s going to look different at each team and Company because I don’t think, you know, I often get asked. So as you know, we work in the research up space more on that Knowledge Management.
And sort of sharing the work side of things and I often get asked from teams. When do you see somebody bring an official research? I was personal and, and and I have to admit I answered very similar to yours, although maybe not as eloquently is I just say you’re going to know when you know like you’re going to have some sort of pain that you realize it’s really hard to find stuff. It’s really hard to search across things. It’s really hard to share it. It’s really hard to get research done. Yeah and your researchers are feeling pain of spending more time getting to the point too.
To do research as opposed to actually doing it. I think I would be willing to bet that someone smarter than me. Certainly in mathematics could actually come up with an equation to say if there’s this this amount of time being spent is a as opposed to this. That’s like the threshold, right? That’s not something. I’m personally very excited about figuring out. But any any math math gurus out there that want to do that? I bet you that you could you could run a study and actually figure out that time and say this is it, this is when you and I would I would wager I guess it has nothing to do with how
How many people you’ve got on your team or humping in? Menomonie is right. I think it really is the velocity of research and yes I like that. You break it down and kind of two ways because that’s very much we see two there’s like sort of operation arising the execution of research and then there’s operationalizing the delivery of the results in knowledge and insights of research. And of course that’s the end that I tend to work on a lot more because of what we do in Aurelius but I think it’s really cool that
And you kind of break it down those two things and very, very answer. Yeah, and I think it’s important to think about those pieces because the, the advice that I give, you know, how people reach out to me because I’m in was jobs and they go, hey, like, would be cool to hear about how you approach this because we’re thinking about this and I think because it’s new, maybe someones read an article or the attended a conference or they’ve heard a podcast episode or something. And it’s very
Easy to just catch on to this one line of like, oh yeah, we should do that thing, right, because they’ve done that thing. Like, okay, we let’s take a step back and really think through the, the whole journey of doing research, right? If if we only solve for much like a product, right? If you only solve for one slice of the product experience, you may think you’ve done great but you know it’s very easy for a customer to overlook that because of what happened right before and
Happens after, right? And I think with the research it’s the same. You haven’t, obviously there’s there’s areas that are higher priority, but the fact that priority means that you have chosen, if chose that over other areas, you have an awareness that there are other areas and I think it’s very easy for folks, coming to research Ops with a lineup. Like I’m going to fix a recruiting and when I fix recruiting everything is going to be great.
And guess what? You could fix recruiting. And like I said, you could have more research velocity and, and you actually creating a larger problem for yourself down the road. Yeah, it really needs to be solved. I yeah, I that’s, that’s really, really great advice honestly, because I think that’s true with most things in life. But absolutely, you know, you increase the velocity at which you’re doing research and Gathering insights. All you’re doing is kicking the can down the road and creating
Your mess. If you don’t have a system to organize search, share reuse that stuff, right? Because because then what happens is, yes, you solved your problem in how long it takes you to recruit and that is good. That’s the absolutely, we’re solving so huge pain point. But what you did is, you made it worse and it’s taking you now longer to figure out past stuff you’ve done. And you’ve just actually introduced waste into your process because now you’re going to, you’re going to be doing research faster, but you’re probably going to be redoing research, right? Because you can’t get the most, you can’t get more mileage to use our travel analogy.
You can’t get more mileage out of the, out of the insights, that the research already did, right? Yeah. No, absolutely. I totally feel you on that one. Awesome. So this fantastic chat and I know that we could we could kind of jam on this for even longer. I got to be respectful of your time. Of course, one things I like to ask at the end of you know, episodes I talked to our guest and I say, well, if I develop temporary Amnesia and somebody were to come up to you and say, hey, what was that?
All about what was that? What was that chat and podcasts? All about, how would you answer the question? How would you sum it up for people today?
I think we just talked about one like what a couple things one, whether different types of research, you need to do to enable your company too.
To really grasp the value of research and understand your users and their needs, right? That gets back to the 30,000 foot, 10,000 foot, and ground Noble thing. And then, how do you need to think about research operations there is you can’t jump jump in there without understanding. What’s the landscape would research within your company and and then get to like, what what are the problems that I can solve as I begin to build this infrastructure?
So think those are the two pieces that stood out for me from from this conversation that really enjoyed walking through them and jabbing on it with you. Awesome. Yeah me as well. I mean your experience and background in this is super valuable and I know folks are going to they’re going to take things away from this chat certainly to think about but I would imagine being able to apply to their work tomorrow, you know. So that’s that’s really helpful. Is there anything else you want to share with folks that we didn’t get a chance to cover yet today?
Yeah, what I think invest in research Ops if if is the pain point, right? Like I really encourage folks to do that, like think about the pain that your roosters are going through and and help them out. If you can do that, the benefits are going to be huge to actually share a bunch about this. I have a website called scaling research with the podcast as well and just openly share some of the stuff that I’m working on here. What other folks are
Working on as well. So if I were looking for, you know, some some practical, not even tips, I just share experience. This is actually what the work is like would love to have our folks jump over and check it out. The goal here is I’m not an expert. I’m just someone who’s trying to work in the open. So if you want to come along and watch, someone work in the open and learn the open, would love to have you jump out to scaling research.com and
and learn together. Awesome it will make sure to have links to that to whenever. So folks listen to this, just go to the page where you’re listening to. It will have show notes and links to all that stuff that Roy’s got going on. I’ve been there, there’s some there’s some pretty good articles and it is very open. It is very open and honest which is awesome. Because not every, I think people like to polish this work up and say, look at all the great stuff we’ve done, but it’s kind of like, well, sometimes it sucks and I’m not that good at it and that’s how we get better. Yeah yeah. Yeah. I think it’s important to just
Yeah. Share. What what has it gone? Well. What hasn’t gone well? And just be honest. Right? Because yeah. There’s no, there’s no guru here. We just learn it together. Awesome, I love it. And I love the philosophy. Well Roy, I really appreciate you taking the time. Like I said, awesome conversation. I know we could do more but you know folks won’t worry you. There’s a there’s a place where you can do that. And so we’ll make sure we get a link to that and a little bit of check it out. But it just got to say thanks again for jumping on in joining us.
And it was such a pleasure, I really enjoyed the convo. Awesome. Alright, everybody will see you next time.