5 Questions to Ask before Starting your Next Research Project

Stephen Covey’s 2nd habit, Begin with the End in Mind, brings to mind a problem we occasionally encounter with new research clients. Often these customers come to us searching, because they’ve been dissatisfied with the results they’ve obtained from investigative or exploratory projects in the past.

One thing that can often stand in the way of a study being useful (or used) is not having the end in mind when planning the project. Let’s be clear about what we mean: not that the team should anticipate the results, but rather, that they should think through a few key questions to be sure they get the answers they need.

  1. What decision will we make, or what action will we take/not take, based on the results?
  2. Who is the audience?
  3. Who will use the results? (This is different than the audience, who may just be interested in the findings)
  4. Who can answer the question? (Often the consumer isn’t the best observer of his/her own behaviour)
  5. What is the “covert brief” – that is, is there an underlying business challenge that will impact whether we are really ready to take the recommendations on board?

Sometimes when we’ve been through these questions, we end up with a completely different (but ultimately more actionable) project than the client originally anticipated. For your next project, ask yourself these questions – and communicate them to your research consultant. We suspect you’ll be glad you did.

Looking for richer results,

Megann and Steve



Make better decisions, get better results, grow your business. We use a deep toolkit of specialized techniques help clarify your objectives, identify decisions that must be made, and eliminate knowledge gaps, resulting in strategy with a firmer foundation and better results.

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