UX: Who is in the way of Empathic User Research?
Empathy and user research have become the new standard in the industry. All businesses are trying to transform some industry or the other. They want to bring a revolution in their space. Everyone wants to be a business leader. The business has identified a real business problem and approaches to solve it with Design Thinking. Unfortunately, more often than not, the business also believes that they know the solution.
Design team is paid by the entrepreneur. Hence there is a need to satisfy the entrepreneur and at times unwillingly confine with the entrepreneurs thoughts. Now that cloud the minds of the user experience team. And the entire user research process is adulterated with the solution in mind and merely ends up figuring out ways to validate the solution instead of keeping the problem at the centre.
More so, the person conducting the user research is also conditioned by his or her past life experiences. When they talk to people during user research there is a personal conditioning and business conditioning from the entrepreneur. All of this further pollutes the ability of being empathic.
So the bigger question is, in order to allow the user researcher truly do his or her job, how could we take all the conditioning out of his or her mind. How could we change so that business individual’s happiness is not in the way but the success of the business takes the centre stage. What should the design team do if the entrepreneur is not open enough? Should they not take up the project? Should they skip the user research? Should they do the user research and make the entrepreneur happy with adulterated results?
The Research Paradox
The question becomes more acute for design consulting firms when they are approached by businesses to solve a problem, but are unwilling to change and be receptive to the true essence of user research and its outcomes. How does a consulting firm, for whom it is the bread and butter, explain it to business that the user research could invalidate the solution that the business has in mind won’t work. More so, what if the problem statement itself is invalidated by user research? How do you tell them that it is a savings to not go further down the road but stop and re-evaluate?