I think one oft-overlooked value of user research is how it enables team members to ramp up on a new area of expertise or domain. The Sprint book is very clear that you must have a ‘decider’ who is an absolute expert on the domain. What happens when you don’t have this? What happens when the person who should be the decider cannot dedicate the amount of time required to the project?
IMO it takes an experienced designer / PM about 2 weeks to dig deep into a new domain using user research interviews. If I were hiring a new person onto my team and you gave me 2 options:
- This person can start today
- This person can start in 2 weeks and come in as an expert on the problem domain / target customer
I would take option 2 every time. Even if that 2 week project resulted in them simply validating what we already knew (which I have never actually seen happen) I would still rather them have that context for future decision making.
As a manager of a product and UX team, I encourage my team to embark upon interview style user research before they dig into a new project.