TEI 2-01: Why research?

Elaborating on the second challenge: design and execute your research project


  • At 7:52, I say "difference between what you do and your clients to." I meant to say "difference between what you do and your competitors do."


  • Why a research project? 
    • Let's play a game: count up how many decisions you have seen your clients make in the complete absence of data that might support making a better decision or improve the outcomes of that decision. Now total up the number decisions where they have some form of objective or semiobjective data available to make that decision. Now compare the two.
    • Mindset: This is an act of service. It is also an act of discovery or validation of a hunch, but more than anything you should think of it as an act of service aimed at your best clients or the kind of level-up-clients you want to attract.
    • Those that understand motivated reasoning are having all sorts of read flags at this point. If the research is motivated by something other than a pure, unalloyed desire to learn, won't it be ruined? 
      • No, but it's a very valid concern to keep in mind!
    • How research produces value 
      • Value to you 
        • All profit comes from risk-taking. This is something Peter Drucker said. (All profit is derived from risk | WARC)
        • I'm not sure this is true in some absolute sense, but it is one hell of a useful lens through which to view the thing I'd like to talk about today, which is: using research to create profitable intellectual property (IP).
        • The profit, in this case, doesn't come from your abilities or expertise as a researcher. It comes from the risk-taking of even doing the research in the first place.
        • Research-driven IP is such a simple and definitely underutilized way--to differentiate yourself to clients. It moves you into a leadership position because you flip from reactive-1:1 problem solving to proactive-scalable problem solving. Instead of individual bespoke solutions, you are moving to group semi-standard solutions, which you could think of as the generation of research-driven best practices. 
          • In fact, one way to think about this research is to think about the unknowns that would present themselves at the outset of a new project, and to accept the task of figuring out those unknowns before the client ever hires you, and reduce that uncertainty for a group of clients all at once rather than for a single client.
          • So clearly you would go for ideal clients as you think about what group you'd like to reduce uncertainty for.
        • It also can be used to reduce risk or move the lever for clients more powerfully; all things that clients will pay a premium for.
      • Value to your clients 
        • Reducing uncertainty (hat tip Douglas Hubbard)
        • Reducing risk
        • Assisting with decision-making
    • Closing 
      • The primary risk here is simple: speculative work done with an uncertain ROI. The much lesser risks: social status, short term revenue/profitability hit. 
        • But that's the genius of this. So many people nope out of that kind of risk, even though the work is surprisingly easy, often simple, and requires not much fancy expertise. It just requires buckling down and doing it!
      • A way to get support with this: http://theexpertiseincubator.com

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