Adding ‘echo read outs’ to re-engage product teams with research projectsand get more done with insights

Research activation timing: 1) initial project read outs, 2) recurring ‘echo read outs, 3) integration into product plans. Illustration shows insights flowing down a timeline, being communicated multiple times before they land impact.

One review of insights is not enough. From a single share out, it’s just not realistic to expect research stakeholders to recall and act on a range of evidence-based issues and opportunities.

Researchers can bake recurring communication ‘echoes’ into their extended project timelines, increasing product peoples’ connection with insights over the actual time frames of planning work. ‘Echoes’ can spur meaningful re-engagement, activation, and accountability toward what really matters for the people your organization is striving to serve.

Q: “The team is in planning mode, this would be the perfect time for that study you ran.” A: “I’ve run two other studies since then on similar topics.” Q: “Could you re-engage the team with the insights they didn’t tackle yet?” A: “That’s a great idea, if I can delay my next study for a bit…”

But what if we decided to build our research projects with the expectation that key insights should be discussed repeatedly, long after the initial report out? After all, we shouldn’t wait for our ideal research repository to be in place before we generate recurring conversation around existing insights.

Improving your insight operations

  • Extending study timelines to include ‘echoes’ beyond initial results sharing and activation
    Create space for ‘echo’ conversations in research plans. Adapt research project scheduling to allow for overlapping timelines, where results are being re-activated even as subsequent studies are in flight. Set expectations with stakeholders that research results will be discussed multiple times, and establish milestones that make sense for the type of study — e.g. one quick-turn check-in for a narrower design prototype study, a series of topical check-ins over two quarters for a major investigation of unmet customer needs.
  • Running ‘echoes’ to maintain awareness of insights when decisions are actually being made
    ‘Echoes’ should be designed to drive insight re-engagement, activation, and accountability. Craft communication and meeting dates to revisit insights during key points in product teams’ own planning processes, keeping their eyes on what’s important for the people they are striving to serve. Expand the ‘impact radius’ (B1) of critical insights by connecting into any regular leadership meetings where data is reviewed to understand status, pain points, and opportunities.
  • Running ‘echoes’ to highlight action and inaction against insights
    Revisit action items that product teams said they were going to do. Or send all key insights from a study — or group of related studies — to ask product teams for responses, including links to related plans. Experiment with using leadership visibility of these responses to drive accountability. Rather than relentlessly pursuing particular insights at this stage, invest in a culture of research-driven planning by running retrospectives with product teams, re-examining research studies and identifying barriers to product impacts.
  • Modulating ‘echoes’ to avoid being ignored as a ‘broken record’
    You’re only going to get a limited amount of recurring interest about the same data from product teams. Find the right balance. Don’t take up too much time with your ‘echoes’ — unless a critical customer problem is not being solved. Along the lines of turning every report into a meta-analysis (C2), adding new evidence in an ‘echo’ session can motivate re-engagement. Lean on research ops, design, and program management staff to bring new voices to follow through efforts, whether in the form of insight reminder messages, or in meetings to drive accountability with individual product leaders.
  • Establishing operations to push ‘echoes’ from research repository programs
    If and when you reach the point where you have some sort of research repository tooling in place, particularly if you deconstruct reports down to the insight level, recurring ‘echoes’ can be easier to facilitate. Establish processes where researchers can lean on, and eventually entirely hand off to, operational staff who own research marketing (B2), design collaboration, and impact tracking.
  • Your idea here…

On the path from insight to product impact

A diagram of seven stages on the path from insight to product impact: Category called “Integrating research content” 1) Sufficient evidence (grayed out), 2) Usefully articulated insight (grayed out), 3) Awareness of possible planning target (highlighted), Category called “Integrating into product planning” 4) Envisioned solution ideas (partially highlighted), 5) Prioritized plan (partially highlighted), 6) Quality execution (grayed out), 7) Understood results (grayed out). —

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Jake Burghardt

Jake Burghardt

Focused on integrating streams of customer-centered research and data analyses into product operations, plans, and designs.