General Research Tips
Driving Research Results

I once worked for a company, (one that some call the best in the world), that only hired researchers who liked to "drive" research results. The phrase was of immediate interest to me, since the concept was one I always had embraced.

In most organizations it will be necessary for the researcher to drive results. Research findings must be acted upon, even if that means implementing recommendations with which powerful members of management disagree. It is easy to blame management for their lack of enthusiasm in implementing research recommendations. However, assigning blame to management for not embracing research findings is a cop-out. Accountability ultimately rests upon the shoulders of the researcher who recommended, designed, and implemented the research project.

Driving results begins with the establishment of objectives. The researcher should always be alert for information gaps existing within the organization; gaps which, if filled, could boost the profitability of the corporation. When a gap is recognized, a proposal should be issued, outlining the problem, the objectives of the research, the proposed methodology, and the use of the results. It is the researcher's charge to drive the project from start to finish, including taking whatever steps are necessary to build consensus within management to conduct the study. This may require closed-door sessions in which you make your argument outside the earshot of others.

When a research project has been completed, the findings issued, and the recommendations made, the researcher's job is not over. This is a critical stage of the research process. Results must be acted upon. As a first step, the researcher should take it upon himself to schedule presentations to key management and user groups within the corporation. The researcher should then identify (or suggest) the person or persons who will drive the findings through the implementation stage. Consultation with the researchers immediate manager will be key to identifying these individuals. A knowledge of the grass roots elements of the corporation -- those people who really want to see the results implemented -- can be very beneficial in identifying these individuals. Once identified, the researcher should stay in contact with these individuals to make certain that the research findings are implemented. The researcher should be prepared to serve on a committee, task force, or team to stay in close touch with the implementation of results.

If results are not acted upon, the researcher has done an extreme disservice to the company by spending the company's money on a research project.