Being the new-ish addition to the IdPS team is, well, an interesting place to be. Besides the requisite induction activities (ask me at Catalyst how you pick up the dry cleaning for a team who lives all across the country), I’ve been working with my peers on vastly different pieces of research. And being curious by nature, I’m loving the chance to not only dig into different topics, but also observe how different people go about the actual process of analyzing a topic or a market. One technique that Burton Group uses is Contextual Research (CR). Essentially, the CR process is meant to challenge an analyst’s knowledge of a subject and their associated preconceived notions as to what problems enterprises face and how they are facing them. It turns seasoned veterans, experts in the field, into beginners again. This is what practitioners of Zen Buddhism call “beginner’s mind.”
Here’s how it works in a nutshell. Kevin (seasoned vet) and Ian (newbie) identify a bunch of organizations to talk to. So far nothing out of the ordinary as compared to our other approaches to research. That being said, the conversations we have with these organizations is very different from typical research techniques. Instead of coming to the conversation with a fixed hypothesis that we want to prove out, we come to the conversation with nothing. No leading questions. No surveys. No preconceptions.