Defining ‘research waste’ in product development

Naming a common barrier to product innovation

Jake Burghardt
Integrating Research
2 min readJun 12, 2024


A floating pile of black documents turns into smoke and fades into a dark green background. Ai generated image.

What is ‘Research waste’ anyway?

Valuable customer insights that were unseen, ignored, or unintentionally left out planning — absent from product goals, roadmaps, backlogs, specifications, or other ‘next step’ deliverables.

Wasted research leads to decreased advocacy for what really matters to the people an organization is striving to serve. It represents opportunity costs for core business measures.

Research is wasted when:

  • Insights never get communicated to the ‘right’ potential owning teams.
  • Important unaddressed insights do not have a clear location where they can be found and reconsidered later.
  • Accumulated research evidence for important insights is scattered, failing to make the best case for planning.
  • Owning teams are unwilling to consider insights that clearly fall within their charter and scope.
  • Owning teams do not respond to important insights in trackable ways — which can include declining to pursue an insight in their plans.
  • Owning teams are not kept aware of ‘their’ open insights over time.

Research waste becomes the ‘unknown known.’ It’s the unacknowledged and overflowing recycling bin of game-changing insights. It can come from a lack of accountability to plan against crucial customer needs. It’s nowhere to be seen at the times when big planning decisions are actually made. It’s lost potential to fuel value, waiting to be recovered.

It’s not that acting on every single insight is the right goal. This isn’t a proposal for some research takeover of product development that ignores realistic limitations and constraints. It’s not a ‘wouldn’t it be great’ fantasy.

Instead, it’s the acknowledgement that too much of the top tier of customer research is being lost in the shuffle within tech organizations.

Out of sight, out of mind, and yet waiting to be put to use.

After all, what’s the point of all of that distributed, continuous learning if your organization is continuously forgetting it?

Much more to come on these topics in forthcoming ‘Stop Wasting Research’ book for Rosenfeld Media

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Jake Burghardt
Integrating Research

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