95% of 30,000 consumer products launched each year fail.https://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/clay-christensens-milkshake-marketing
Let’s imagine you have an idea for a new product or service innovation. If you want to give yourself the best show at succeeding, you MUST “front load” on the opportunity and problem analysis effort as much as possible.
Creating products (solutions) first and then trying to fit that to customer needs is a much riskier and more expensive undertaking.
Here are some steps you must do upfront:
- Perform industry research for key trends and to understand the space. Here is a quick way to get accelerate that early research. 10 questions to perform quick industry research as a product innovator
- Draft a hypothesis for the opportunity to focus your innovation effort. THIS is what you need to validate over the course of your product innovation early effort. Opportunity Hypothesis: First step towards creating successful products
- Perform qualitative research with a targeted set of users (especially if you are relatively new to the problem space). This includes performing interviews (1-1 or focus groups) to really try and understand their pain points, motivations and their potential interest in a future offering. To do this correctly you MUST create a research strategy that includes your intent, your target, and your measures. Step by step method for conducting qualitative research
Once you’ve done all this and interviewed a reasonable number of users (10-15 in each of the segments you may be targeting), you are most likely in the following situation:
You’ve come out of these meetings/interviews with voluminous amount of information. WHAT NEXT?
How do you mine this qualitative research data? How do you turn it into intelligence that can be used to answer the questions in your original research strategy?
If your interview questions were open ended (as they should be because they are meant to be exploratory), you’ll have a ton of somewhat free flowing information that you’ll to parse and understand. You’ll have answers to direct questions about pain points, but also motivations, psychology of the users, the WHYs and the WHATs.
Good, experienced researchers develop these skills over time. As product innovators, if you’re conducting this on your own (or with your team) you want to wear the hat of a researcher as well as a businessperson who will be utilizing that research for decision making. NOW the real fun begins.
For the actual synthesis, there is an element of art and science however a framework to process and synthesize the data can be very helpful.
The goal is to produce ACTIONABLE insight as it relates to your original research intent and target.
7 steps (7 Cs) to synthesize user interviews from qualitative research
- Capture: It goes without saying that everything discussed in the user interview should be captured, recorded and transcribed without filtering out anything. Best practice is to have a team member who understands the research intent and goals join you as a participant to observe and capture all notes.
- Classify: To a large degree a “refined and structured” version of the actual interview notes. The interviews will almost always introduce free flowing information. The goal of this step is to help clear up the obvious frivolous information. If the overall interview questions were constructed correctly, they should more or less guide this step and some classifications/categories/themes should start to emerge at this point.
- Consider: Because it is crucial to stay within the problem domain (and not start to think of solutions yet), it is a very powerful technique to consider and surface deeper motivations and latent needs of the users. For each of the key answers from the step above, ask yourself… was there more to the answer? Why did they say that? This step forces the researcher and product innovator to really set the stage for recognition of motivations and needs (especially the latent ones) and eventually creation of target personas for the product.
- Conclude: This is where the research starts to draw conclusions and insights from the data in the steps above. For each of the user/respondent, provide conclusions that are focused on the original research goals and measures.
- Create: As a skilled researcher and especially as a product innovator we need to be able to create actionable intelligence and recommendations. The step differs from the step above because there is a final action proposal or decision geared towards the consumer of the research and the businessperson. If your role is to produce the final research report , you should focus on producing answers to the original questions for the audience who sponsored the research. If you are a product innovator and entrepreneur conducting the research, it is very possible that you’ve learned things that were outside the direct realm of the research targets, however they are important enough to explore for the product vision. In my personal experience, that can be valuable in case you need to pivot or evolve in the future.
- Combine: If you speak to 10-15 users and perform this synthesis for all of them, it is important to combine that into a cohesive research output.
- Communicate: No research is complete unless the combined output is summarized and an executive summary communicated at the end of the study.
The research study on its own shouldn’t be the only criteria for deciding the future of your product offering and your eventual solution. It is only ONE of the many inputs for that decision making. It is quite possible that a follow up quantitative study needs to be performed to validate some of the aspects highlighted in the research report, or perhaps a round 2 of qualitative study
What is your experience with the practices you’ve used for analysis of qualitative research data?
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