To directly connect researchers across product teams, we organize strategic research projects on a quarterly basis that explicitly pair researchers who haven’t worked together before.
Design research at Dropbox
Cristen Torrey

Design Research in the context of perpetual motion.

Cultural alignment can feel perpetual as a research worker.

I love the spirit with which you work. And the nature of the relationships you are building within a product centric culture of decision making. Bravo. When one’s role is designed in service of another it establishes who must answer to whom. Your model does many things that feel admirable and worth replicating.

Still, I get the sense from this narrow window into ‘your world’ that a perpetual research contract ought to be easy enough to model from the outset. Lived experiences will need to be recruited from many quarters. They will need to monitored for evolutionary patterns with longitudinal protocols. And people will differ wildly even on how participants cope with the mundane events of creating some assurance that their digital world will hold together. Keeping up with that complexity might feel dizzying and tiring, as well.

Would it not be possible to frame some research questions of grander scale to the Dropbox organization, rather than perpetually shuffling the deck of questions to study, and phenomena to observe? My sense of strategy [in the form ‘strategic’] is that is under effective when used as an adjective. Strategy ought to feel like the work of climbing the next mountain. (Where the mountain is knowable to all disciplines: product, marketing, research, design…) It seems like the next evolution of your work might want to socially construct some grand challenges to sink your collective teeth into.