Why not try letting people know what you are finding out as you go along?

red theatre curtains - closedI’m engaged in a bit of a research project at the moment. Working through a traditional process of observation and research, auditing to test assumptions, then meetings to see what should happen next and so on, but this time I am taking a slightly different approach.

In the past, I’d always be a bit nervous. I’d hold back what I was finding out until I presented the first draft of any report or presentation. I’d make sure I was saying things in the clearest, cleanest way possible, wait til it was all reasonably solid from my perspective before I shared what I was finding out.

If I’m honest, there is a drama in that approach that I like – the big ‘ta-daaahh’ of handing over something structured and thought through – the dramatic rise of the big red curtains. The thing is, it can catch people unawares, and create a bit of a backlash, especially if you are saying things that some people in the organisation might not want to hear.

As this is the year of trying new things, I thought I’d try something different this time. What if I shared my notes as I went along? What if I opened up my thoughts earlier in the process – when there is time to get other perspectives involved, time to see what might be more contentious, time to do a bit more work on how it might be best to contextualize the information to make it sink in a bit more easily.

I did it today – and although slightly nerve wracking it felt rather okay. It means I’m sharing more of the process as well as the findings, and that I hope means it might be eventually more impactful – have more chance of anything emerging from the research taking hold in the organisation.

Do others do this as a matter of course? Or are people more like I am usually, saving stuff up for a big surprise for the people they work with and for?

I’d really like to know if anyone has any pros and cons for each approach – and I’ll tell you in few months if I think it worked out better or worse than usual this time round!

Thanks to  daskerst for the image and remember if you have enjoyed this and want to read more, you can subscribe to Jo Verrent’s blog by email.

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