‘Desk research’ can be difficult. Especially if you embark on a Google discovery without any focus. Whether you’re stalking competitors, identifying market trends, trying to develop an angle for your latest report or finding influencers to follow, it’s an important part of the process and without it everything could fall down.
To prevent you from losing time – and your mind – venturing down too many internet rabbit holes, here’s some useful research hacks to help bring clarity to your search:
Always ask ‘why?’
When we take the time to ask ‘why?’ things can often unfold in unexpected ways. Questioning helps get to the root cause, allowing us to extract insights as we go.
Sakichi Toyoda, the founder of Toyota, developed a technique called ‘The 5 Whys’ in the 1930s, which is still widely used today. The aim is to help get to the root of a problem by digging deeper. Each time we ask ‘why?’ we uncover an issue that is contributing to a bigger problem, or stress-test an idea.
Try river jumping
Although sometimes necessary, rational thinking isn’t much fun. And, actually, when it comes to brainstorming a big idea, one-track thought won’t get you very far. But when we’re programmed day-to-day to problem-solve efficiently, how do we break the habit and get our creativity caps on? At Hattrick, we put on our wellies instead.
River jumping is a technique for learning and developing creative habits to overcome the brain’s subconscious classification system. When we take in a new piece of information, we interpret it according to what we have experienced that’s like it before. And this limits our thinking. It can be particularly difficult when operating in one sector, as it can often feel like quite a small pond.
To get around this, try the following to open up some new streams for exploration:
- Re-express from someone’s else’s perspective – think like a five-year old! Children often have an interesting way of looking at the world! – or perhaps look through the optics of someone with a different job function and a different set of challenges.
- Related worlds – see what can be learned from parallel industries. The finance and technology sectors are often viewed as the most trailblazing. Looking at industry leaders operating in any market can be a great source of inspiration.
- Revolution – challenge existing rules by questioning ‘what if?!’In a similar vein to assumed knowledge, taking existing ‘rules’ at face value, and failing to question them, can lead to predictable outcomes. If you play it safe, you’re likely to get a safe response.
- Random links – using unexpected stimulus. If you normally source your ideas from industry trade magazines, social media or competitor activity then try casting the net a bit further. The more left-field, the better. If you’ve ever had an ‘in-shower epiphany’, then you’ll understand – removing yourself from a situation is often the best creative stimulus you can get.
Enlist third-party support
Ultimately, good research takes time. And this is something we’re all in short supply of. Sometimes, getting a genuinely fresh perspective is exactly what’s needed.
Introducing Labb: Reflecting how integral robust insights are to our offer at Hattrick, we have established a dedicated function solely focused on research – our Labb
To find out how Labb can help you with always-on insights and a fine-tuned approach for finding the right hook, get in touch.