Research Operations for Democratization at Scale

The democratization of research continues to grow—and with it, the complexities of research operations. This week, we chatted with Garett Tsukada, Head of Customer Connect UX Research Operations at Intuit about how research ops supports democratization at scale. He talked about how Intuit approaches research democratization for a 14,000+ team, processes to ensure research quality, advice for starting and scaling a research operations function, and more. 

Garett talked about…

  • How to keep up with the growing demand for democratization.
  • The tools, processes, and structure of Intuit’s research ops team.
  • Advice for starting and scaling a research operations function.

Psst—can’t get enough of podcasts? Here are 30+ more of the best UX and User Research podcasts to add to your listening queue.


[04:39] How Intuit approaches research democratization at scale.

[11:53] The compounding value of research education.

[13:28] Guardrails and processes to ensure research quality.

[24:02] Keeping up with the growing demand for democratization.

[32:18] Advice for starting and scaling a research operations function.

About our guest

Garett Tsukada is Head of Customer Connect UX Research Operations at Intuit. He leads a global Research Ops team to amplify the value and impact of connecting with customers at scale, drive operational impact, and foster a culture of innovation and customer obsession.


Garett 00:00

It’s that deep customer empathy. And I go back to that and it’s just one of those topics that I love so much. It’s just really being able to connect with people on an individual level and understanding, you know, what it’s like to form new friendships, to understand the challenges and pains that people go through as well as what you’re able to do for them when all things work out well.

Erin 00:26

This is Erin may.

JH 00:28

I’m John Henry Forster, and this is Awkward…. Silences.

Erin 00:39

Hello everybody. And welcome back to Awkward Silences. We’re here today with Garrett Tsukada, Head of Customer Connect UX Research Ops at Intuit. Today, we’re going to talk about research ops for democratization at scale. So lots of good buzzwords there, but really we’re going to talk about Garrett’s experience in over eight years, working at Intuit and how Intuit has evolved their research operations, how the field is changing, and we’re just going to jump right in and get into it.

So excited to have you here, Garrett. Thanks for joining.

Garett 01:11

Oh, thank you. I’m super excited to be here.

JH 01:14

Yeah. I think in a lot of ways, democratization is more interesting to talk about when you’re talking about it at scale, right? It’s one thing that’s like, should we let that one do some research versus like, should we let like this 500 people do this?

So I think it’s a much more interesting problem. So excited to hear about your experiences with it.

Erin 01:30

Yeah. And on that note, I think we’re talking about just to get a sense of the magnitude of scale hair, something like 14,000 people that you were helping to talk to customers every day.

So how do you make that happen? How have you thought about, you know, that problem and that.

Garett 01:49

No, it’s a huge opportunity that I see for it. And it really goes back to our DNA. I would say customer obsession is one of our core values when it comes to everything we do. And it’s not just understanding what our customer’s behaviors are, what they do and don’t, but it’s really being able to step in the shoes of our customers to deeply understand their problems, understand what their pains are as well as, you know, what options.

Really thinking about how we can apply discipline and rigor to solving their problems. But it’s a good problem to have, because what I’ve seen in my time here at Intuit is just more customer obsession, just more people wanting to talk with customers, whether they’re researchers, designers, PMs, marketers, but we all have a customer here.

And it’s really about engaging with our customers on a regular basis in order to create that deep customer empathy.

JH 02:45

And when you’re trying to enable it for that many people just see, can we get a little bit more color or context on who the people are? Is it basically just everybody in the company who is empowered to talk to customers and be very customer obsessed?

Is it, you know, mostly PMs and design or what’s the actual breakdown look like in practice?

Garett 03:00

I would say it’s actually everyone has the customer into it, so you can be in an HR function. And when you think about who your customer is, well, these are employees.  Everyone has a customer, but what our team primarily focuses on, I would say it’s research, design, PM marketing, more of a focus on our external customers, but at times we still jump in to help our internal customers as well.

Erin 03:24

And you’ve talked about how this customer obsession has always been a core value, right, but that it’s grown over time. I’m curious what some of the driving factors are.

Garett 03:35

You know, when I take a step back and kind of look at some of the driving factors. I think it’s just a natural change in the landscape of research where I really see it.

Um, I think there is more of a value on research and what research is able to provide for companies. And I think what happens is because of this naturally, you’re going to see more designers and PMs and other functions being interested in these learning and insights. And it really is just, you know, it’s a.

It’s an opportunity of scale. I guess you can say that it would just be more of a demand. You ‘re going to have to kind of build out our functions and our processes in order to support all of this.

JH 04:20

How does it go in practice? Like, I think the main thing that you’d hear people, you know, the other side of the argument here is that, well, you got to do research.

Well, you can’t just let anyone do research. It seems like you all have leaned into just kind of letting everyone do research and engage with their customer. What’s that trade-off like, like, well, how does it actually work in practice?

Garett 04:39

It’s a lot more difficult than it actually sounds. And, even although we say that, you know, everyone can just reach out and talk to customers.

I think there’s really a partnership that you have to build with your research leadership. In order for them to have confidence that they can lean into you. And for us, what that means is it really starts with building out a framework and processes that goes into what we consider. I guess you can say more strategic research and less strategic research.

So. What that means for Intuit is, you know, it doesn’t start with just, I need to talk with customers, but really understands where you are in that process of talking to customers, you know, are you going to be… Is this more of deep customer empathy? Are you really focusing on more generative research?

That’s going to inform design later on, but we ask a lot of questions upfront. To understand what is being done. And from there, we’re actually able to make the appropriate suggestions on what resources they should be utilizing. And it varies. I mean, sometimes like we were very open and honest with the teams that sometimes that the research they’re trying to do is out of our scope.

But we have a wonderful network of research leadership that we can actually lean into for support. So it really depends on what’s trying to be done, but we try to anticipate as many of these use cases as possible. And just making sure that we have the appropriate offering for each team that comes through.

Erin 06:02

Well, let’s back up. Cause it sounds like where we are now is there are people coming to you and you have some existing tools to help them, you know, do the kind of research they want to do wherever they are, but that didn’t just happen overnight. Right. And it’s not like 14,000 people, one at a time coming to you like Garrett, help me out.

So how did we get here where you are now?

Garett 06:25

I dunno. So I would say that the customer connect journey actually started quite some time ago. Our team has been at Intuit for roughly, gosh, like 11 or 12 years now, really starting off as more of like a research recruiting team. And over time, what we’ve been able to do is really take a step back and reassess the value that we provide into it.

And I would say really where we’ve had kind of this aha moment is right around when COVID came. And when you think about the loss of micro interactions and kind of learnings and all of these things that we really took for granted, I think that they were really impactful when it comes to research and learning.

And it was so simple just to go into the labs and just kind of run an idea by someone really quick. Hey, I’m going to talk to so and so…. Can you just take a look at my research, brief our discussion guide… With the distributed nature of teams now, it makes it a lot harder to get that feedback and where we felt that there was a lot more value is not just providing participants where.

We can just say, here’s your participant. Go ahead and talk to them. Here’s your research brief and discussion guide, et cetera, but really understanding what teams and individuals we’re trying to do, asking these questions to figure out like, how can we best help these people? And ultimately what we landed on and what we found out is are our core services that we provide.

Really haven’t changed much—the ‘what’ hasn’t changed much, but how we actually provide that value has changed considerably. And I would say one of the big opportunities that we have now is really thinking about how we lean into education and learning and really thinking about, okay, so we know that there’s a need to talk with customers.

We already understand that research teams are kind of running very thin at this point, because there’s so much research that has been going on. What value do we have as a research operations teams to leverage a lot of our researchers and their learnings to help design and PM and really help other functions that normally wouldn’t be able to go through research.

JH 08:28

What can we, can you like play it out a little bit like, what does that look like for the end user? So like, let’s say Erin joins the team. She’s a new marketer. She’s like, Hey, I want to understand, you know, people who are buying our products, like what is their decision making process? I want to talk to some people who bought a product in the last month. What happens from there?

Garett 08:47

So, I think one of the first things we would do is we’d actually, I think it starts with deep customer empathy and actually understanding more about who these customers are. And that’s one of those one of the offerings that we currently have where we call it to call it a follow me home, back, you know, pre COVID, but this opportunity to actually sit down,

Erin 09:07

this sounds risky,

Garett 09:08


Yeah. It sounds a little risky, but we’ve had to move all of those similar remote offerings. But it’s just understanding, you know, what is it like to be, for example, a small business owner. I know that as a marketer, you’re very competent and you have a great understanding of who you’re selling to, but do you truly understand what it means to be a small business owner?

And I think that’s where it all starts is this with this deep customer empathy, what you’re going to learn over time, is there certain challenges that just naturally come up and you’re going to be able to go really narrow on what these opportunities are, understand how you can best sell for them.

So through partnership with customer connect and our research teams, we’re able to figure out, you know, where you have the biggest opportunity and being able to…. when you think about screening and scheduling and compensating customers, kind of take over that operational logistical aspect and let you focus just on the research, just on the work and the learning and insights.

And that’s typically how it plays out. But I mean, I would say. There’s so many different offerings when you have opportunities, when you think about learning and education. And another opportunity that we’re really focused on is not just kind of knowing who your customer is, but really from a global lens, you know, starting like day one, but why we’re so obsessed with our customers and what the value is.

So we’re kind of looking at it from all kinds of different angles, but it’s really about creating for us a culture of customer obsession and just making sure everyone understands. If it’s just a, when you talk to customers, and it’s one of those things, again, like everyone has a customer here and we just want to ensure that everyone understands what type of opportunity we have and truly what our mission is and what we’re selling.

Erin 10:50

Maybe it’s obvious to folks at this stage, but just to make it obvious the customer connect. What is that?

Garett 10:58

It’s a great question. So, we are a global research operations team, so on my team it’s composed of research operations program managers. We have research recruiters. We have data analysts, software engineers, everything that you would need in order to build out the research operations team at scale.

Erin 11:25

And how many folks do you have?

Garett 11:28

Currently we have about 24 people on the team.

Erin 11:30

Okay. So 14,000 divided by 24. Okay. So you’ve got to scale yourselves, you know, to be able to do a lot. And, so you’ve mentioned at this stage, you have lots of different kinds of programs and opportunities for people to tap into what has been some of the most impactful or interesting things you’ve helped to develop over the years.

Garett 11:53

One thing, like actually to be quite honest, what really excites me now is, is really thinking about what it means to help drive education and learning and just kind of seeing what that opportunity is for and the value it creates. And the reason why that’s so important for me is I often go back and kind of think about, okay, so let’s just say that we have a designer that’s new to the company and if we just had an offer and it says, you just come to us, we give to the people that you need and you’re able to get your learning and insights.

And let’s just say, this person moves on to a different company. I kind of feel that, you know, the value that we provided, just knowing that they’re going to be able to just find a team to recruit for them. And the reason why I feel that the education aspect is so important is because we provide so much more value.

If we can build out these competencies where this person can be successful, wherever they go. And that’s truly what it’s about for me. Obviously there’s, there’s something to be said about being loyal to the company and making sure that we understand who our customers are, but I feel that by creating these learnings and these competencies and his confidence in this person that they’re going to be successful regardless of where they go. And ultimately that’s what really brings up the quality of everything that we do. And that’s where I kind of see the big value. So I really see it as a customer connected into it as a great place to learn and grow your career, especially when it comes to talking to customers and understanding what it means to be customer obsessed and being able to scale that, you know, anywhere you go.

JH 13:28

You know, it’s in that education. What form is that taking? Like, people are able to go read some guides about how to be an effective interviewer and that kind of stuff. Or is it you’re repackaging insights that might be useful that they can just jump right into without having to do the research? Or what parts of the process do you see that value coming to bear for employees?

Garett 13:48

I would say it’s less of the prepackaging, the insights. And the reason being is, you know, insights are wonderful, but it’s really about understanding who this person is and how they kind of got to these insights. So when I think about what is the value that we provide and how we can do that, you know, it can be in the form of a research brief or discussion guide.

It also comes in a form of how. How do you facilitate a conversation? And that’s one of the things that we’ve heard from our partners most often is I’m not confident talking to a customer. I’ve never done this, so how can I do it effectively and confidently? And, again, we’re learning? It’s like, we’re not just pulling things out of the air, but for us, we’re actually talking to the people who are going through this process and talking to PM’s and research teams and other design leads and understanding, like, what are the biggest challenges that you have engaging with customers and how we can best support you and help you with that.

And I actually find that that is the best way to figure out where you can truly create value for the team. And it’s one of those things that, again, we are learning every day. The opportunities that come up, they’re not always obvious, but I think it’s really, again about building that trust and opening those lines of communication.

So when things don’t work well, they can come back to you. But also again, like when they have opportunities to learn and grow, like you can be their first line of support.

Erin 15:13

Do you have ongoing sort of systems for continuously discovering opportunities to help your internal clients, other folks who, you know, want to connect with customers to be able to do that?

You mentioned that sometimes some things that wouldn’t be obvious to you come up, right? Some, some less obvious opportunities. I’m curious, you know, what some of those might be and what some of the programs and educational opportunities you’ve been able to create that have come out of.

Garett 15:43

Yeah, you definitely want to be able to savor all the surprises in everything you do.

And I found that what I try to do for our research operations team is really create a space where they can be curious about what’s going on and, even though we’ve defined pillars of excellence—I guess you can say things that we focused on, you know, it doesn’t mean that there’s not other opportunities out there.

So I think it’s, again, it’s having these, these open channels of communication and feedback that we’re able to identify a lot of opportunities, but again, it’s kind of that culture and that mindset that really creates that opportunity for the team. And you know, like I said, I mean, we’re a team that we’re a company that’s customer obsessed.

And it also means that we, as a research operations team, are obsessed with the people who go through our program. And we’re just constantly learning and talking to our customers.

JH 16:42

I’m guessing, I’m curious, like how do you actually guardrail or make this system work? Right? Like, what’s going to stop somebody, some like new junior employee from grabbing the contact info for, you know, the SVP, one of your largest clients and just shooting them a note, being like, hey, I want to talk to you. Or like, you know, or how do you get visibility into all the research that’s going on? So you can help, you know, with a review of the research plan and do some of that enablement and education.

I like, it just seems so massive and it seems like so many people will be out there just doing things. And not that you want to centralize it for the sake of centralizing it, but it feels like you need to put some like shape and protection around it. I’m just curious how you actually do that.

Garett 17:18

Yeah, absolutely.

And for us, I think what that means and what’s actually worked very well is we have an intake process. That any of our requesters need to go through in order to, to meet with customers. And in that time, what we’re able to do is truly understand what this person is trying to solve for.

And it also gives us an opportunity to understand what their competency is. The way I think about it is as. Graduate and become more competent and confident, engaging with customers. There can be less hand holding because you understand, you know, what it means and why it’s so important to be respectful of PII and data governance and so on.

And really what we’d like to do. I think about the opportunities that we have with someone new to the team. And the analogy that I always like to give people is when we first started to learn how to drive, we just did to give keys to people and say, here you go. But you had a coach there. You had, someone sitting in that passenger seat with you telling you what you should and shouldn’t be doing in order to get you to a place that you are able to drive on your own.

And for us, when we think about what are those best practices, this is where we’ve been able to partner closely with research leadership, to understand what are their biggest concerns and really echo the message that they want to instill in all the employees that come through us. But I would say again, it’s just a really good relationship that we have with our research teams to guide us into what best practices are and just kind of setting up that foundation where we could have, where we should be stepping in and where we can kind of play.

JH 18:55

That makes sense. But at that scale, to continue the analogy a little bit, how do you know, in the 14,000 people, who have their license versus who has their learner’s permit, right? Like how do you know who you’re trusted with doing research and who you don’t.

Garett 19:07

I don’t think it’s a perfect system in the sense that I don’t think you can solve for every single use case. But what I will say though, is that you have to have faith and what we’re trying to do is really trying to build out more programs at scale. When it comes to engaging with customers where they’re going to be less of a customer.

Sort of offering and more of like an Intuit branded offering in the sense that when you first start with a company, you have to go through trainings when it comes to, you know, like privacy and governance and all kinds of other things that they make you do when you’re first hired on. And you know, from the lens that we were thinking about is, you know, how do we incorporate something like this into day one training where it’s just with the assumption that yes, you are going to be talking to customers.

This is important. These are the things that you might have to be mindful of. And when you are. This team is ready for you. You can go to the customer connect team and they’re going to be able to support you with those sort of things. So we’re really trying to think about it again from kind of like a less off, just to go through customer connected to more of an Intuit branded training to kind of start foundationally with a lot of those people.

Erin 20:18

Without giving away any of the secret sauce.

But, you know, you heard it here exclusively on Awkward Silences. What are some of those key things you want people to know on day one, right? That want to be talking to customers and that you want to, as they grow into it, or maybe someday leave into it are going to be better advocates for talking to customers, better able to do it effectively.

What are some of those things you really want to get across that you really want people to internalize and know?

Garett 20:52

I think one of the first things I would say is just why it’s so important. And as we think about, you know, people coming into different roles, you know, they’re very competent, you know, with design and marketing and research and so on.

But you know, you have to understand who your customer is and who you’re solving for. And I would say that’s probably the biggest thing that, when I advocate for customer obsession and why it’s so important to talk to customers, it’s really understanding who you’re solving for, because we have to understand.

Customers have options. You know, I think with just the accelerated rate at which technology is moving and just, you know, the options out there if you don’t understand what you’re solving for and accept that your customer has options, it’s like, you know, it’s likely that you’re going to be left behind when you think about the big picture.

So I would say that’s one of the biggest things. I would say the other thing too, is it’s deep customer empathy. And I go back to that and it’s just one of those topics that I love so much. It’s just really being able to connect with people on an individual level and understanding, you know, what it’s like to form new friendships, to understand the challenges and pains that people go through as well as, you know, what you’re able to do, for them when all things work out well.

But, there’s just, you know, like I said, just a number of different things that we focused on, but I would say that competency is a part of it, but it’s really more about understanding why it’s so important.

JH 22:31

All right. Quick awkward interruption here. It’s fun to talk about user research, but you know, what’s really fun is doing user research and we want to help you with that.

Erin 22:40

We want to help you so much that we have created a special place. It’s called user for you to get your first three participants.

JH 22:51

We all know we should be talking to users more. So we’ve gone ahead and removed as many barriers as possible. It’s going to be easy. It’s going to be quick.

You’re going to love it. So get over there and check it out. Then when

Erin 23:00

you’re done with that, go on over to your favorite podcasting app and leave us a review.

JH 23:08

Did you come back to me? You shared previously you mentioned, like an intake form. Is that like, is that something that all research is going through?

Like whether I’m trying to do some evaluative stuff on a prototype versus some, some higher level discovery stuff?

Garett 23:21

Yes. And the reason being is, you know, I think part of it is focused on the research, but we really want to understand who is doing the research and that’s the reason why we ask. So we really want to understand, you know, what is your comfort level like talking to customers?

Have you done something like this? When you think about the insights that you’re going to get, you know, thinking about how you communicate those with the people around you? Are you going to be talking to senior leadership? Is this going to be something that’s going to be more for yourself or it’s really kind of getting a better idea of, we want to see what the big picture looks like.

So we can have as much data as possible in order to make the right recommendations when it comes to resources.

JH 24:02

And what’s the turnaround on something like that? So, you know, people submit an intake form. Is that something that is pretty timely in terms of somebody from your team reaching out and kind of coaching them through it?

Or is there like a backlog or how do you keep up with the demand?

Garett 24:15

I think we’re very fortunate in the sense that we have a fairly large team to keep up with a lot of this demand. But on average, you know, when this opinion on the complexity of studies, it’s like we’re able to finish anything from, you know, four to seven business days, which is very quick when you think about research operations and participant management.

But, it hasn’t been like this always. It took us a long time to get to this place. But what we found over time is we are having problems scaling. And for us, you know, we had to kind of take a step back and really look at what the offering was, how it was being used and kind of figure out, is this the best use of our time? And are there other ways for us to empower teams, to connect with customers without our team doing the actual work?

Erin 25:03

And what did you decide? Did you find that there were ways?

Garett 25:07

Absolutely. I think there’s just a number of different ways that you can look at it and you know, for us, when it comes to the actual participant management, we see, you know, multiple offerings in a sense that you can do something that’s more full service, where you can manage the recruiting and the compensation and the scheduling and whatnot.

And we really like to reserve that more for someone who’s new. So we can really hold their hand through this entire process and help them understand what they should be doing. But, you know, as people kind of come through our doors more frequently, and we’re more confident that they’re able to do things, what we want to be able to do is kind of graduate them to more of an assisted offering and, you know, ideally the hopes of going into more of like a self service offering where they can kind of lean into us when they need to, but we want to afford them the flexibility of being able to pick their own participants to really figure out like when scheduling works for them and be blessed, have a bottleneck in the process.

But, yeah, just tons of different ways. You can look at it and really figure out what that value is. And, you know, at times it could be one of those things too, where it’s like, they don’t even need to talk to customers through us, but it might be more of like a training opportunity. So again, it’s really more of a focus on the actual person coming through our doors.

JH 29:34

Can I ask? I have a pretty specific question on the participant management side, since that’s obviously something we do with our research product.

When I’ve gone out and talked to research ops people at large companies, one of the things I see as a clear pain point around is the contact limits or kind of suppression rules in the sense of, we don’t want to take what should be a really positive interaction. You know, somebody reaching out to get feedback from you.

And the user being able to share their opinions and something negative because they’re getting hit up multiple times throughout the same week, because all of these different people are doing research in an uncoordinated way. Is that something you think about? I’m just curious if that resonates with you.

Garett 30:11

I think it’s always important to think about what is that customer experience because in the end, you know, it doesn’t matter if it’s a marketing email, sales email or something that says, hey, we’re going to pay you for your time. Like, you know, email to them as email.

For us, it’s like, what I’ve realized is that there’s other ways to get the people who are interested in providing feedback, you know, leveraging things like voice of customer, social media sales teams, but there’s so many other ways that we can actually engage with people who want to talk with us as opposed to kind of reaching out there and figuring out like, hey, are you interested in providing feedback?

You know, please let me know if you are, but it is half for us. It has been a constant. Place to experiment about what is that ideal. But for us, we definitely try to contact people less frequently and really make it more of a value proposition where, you know, we’re going to reach out by phone. We want them to understand like, hey, we just want to get feedback, but your feedback is really important.

We understand that you as a user have challenges with this and help them understand that it is really for the greater good of other people who might be in the same situation that they might be experiencing. So it’s a very high-touch opportunity for us to help our users understand why it’s still important for them to participate.

Erin 31:35

When you think about…. so you’ve been at this work for a while and have iterated on your education programs and so on.

What advice would you give someone—I mean, I want to say entering a similar situation, but I guess part of the point is that the situations are not in fact similar, that each company is unique and the needs of each company are unique. But how would you approach based on some of the lessons you’ve learned and successes or failures along the way, when you think about sort of empowering your entire company to talk to customers, whether it be better or more frequently or whatever the goal.

What have you learned along the way that might help others to scale an operation like this?

Garett 32:18

It’s definitely to your point. It’s very unique in the sense that no research operations program is ever going to be, it’s always going to be different just based on the needs of the company.

But what I’ve found is in order to really create impact. It’s been able to lead with a clear vision, being super clear about what we are solving for. And ultimately what that allows you to do is accelerate the velocity at which you’re able to deliver because you have things like alignment. So when I think about customer connect, for example, the values that we provide align very clearly with Intuit’s values of customer obsession, and ultimately with our mission statement of powering prosperity around the world.

And then I think, digging a little bit more. And I asked myself like, okay, so how are we doing this? And why are we able to accelerate with such velocity? It’s because there’s less noise. We understand very clearly what we can and can’t support. And then ultimately by being so narrowly focused, it allows us to go really deep on the customer problems and understand where we have tremendous value to iterate.

And the difference is in the keynote. If we didn’t do that, then we would probably come out with more of a less impactful experience, maybe something a little bit more incremental, but again, we choose to focus on our time where it’s going to create the most value for the company.

JH 33:48

I’m curious since, you know, your team is so large and supports so many stakeholders, if you had kind of had a magic wand to throw the classic question that you’d like, what’s the number one thing you’d like to solve right now, or the biggest opportunity that you’re wrestling with for your team?

Garett 34:00

I would say that, the biggest thing that we wrestle with, you know, if I had a magic wand, I would say the first thing that I wish we could’ve done is gone back 30 years and set up research operations, you know, at the start of the company. You know, but that ship has, has long since sailed. So I would say that the biggest challenge right now is being able to really create and implement the processes.

Creating the guard rails I would say is the biggest challenge because there’s such a need to, to talk to customers that you want to stay flexible. And you want to be mindful of the needs of the people who need to speak with customers, but you also have to have the right processes and guard rails.

And it’s a really fine line that you have to walk. And at times you feel like you’re kind of slowing down the process by actually having these guard rails in place. But, I think ultimately. It’s a good thing, because you’re going to take that time to really understand, like, you know, is this really the appropriate offering for a team?

Are we really doing the right thing for our customers? So just creating a little space. I actually think it’s a good thing, but just being able to, to implement guard rails and processes in a way that doesn’t slow down progress, I would say is probably like the biggest opportunity.

JH 35:21

It makes sense. Just to follow up quickly, you mentioned, you know, if you could go back and just have research ops there at the founding of the company, I’m curious, what do you think would be different?

Garett 35:31

If research ops had just been there from the start, I feel like what you’re able to do is you’re actually able to get ahead of things before they begin to scale. And what you’re going to be able to do is grow with the opportunity and learn with that opportunity.

And often feel like when you come into any company—and research and design is very established in their process—to come in and set up a research operations team is very challenging because a lot of the teams and a lot of the individuals kind of have a process in place or they’re used to more autonomy and for a team to come in and kind of say, well, you know what, we want to kind of set up some best practices and guardrails. And we want to get a heads up when you want to talk to customers.

And if you can let us know like a couple of weeks early, it’d be great. But it’s change management. It’s being able to work through the change, I think is the most difficult part. So by being able to do that early on in the process, It’s not a question of it. It’s just one of those things that we’ve always done.

So, my suggestion to anyone starting a research operations function is you want to get in as early as possible and really take everyone along for the ride. This isn’t one of those things where it’s like research operations are here to slow down the process and tell you what you can and can’t do.

But it’s really a collaborative effort to ensure that we’re all on the same page, working towards the same goals and we have our customer’s best interests in mind. And again, it’s just a lot easier when you start out from the very beginning, as opposed to kind of playing catch up in the process.

Erin 37:05

Garrett. I know you used to be a practicing user researcher. I think some research ops folks come from ops and others from research and others from probably somewhere else. But, as a former researcher, you know, I always like to ask people what they love about user research. So what do you love about research?

What do you love about research ops?

Garett 37:25

Oh, good question. For research, what I love is feeling that, I love making those personal connections and having that understanding of our customers, but being able to communicate that with other teams, being able to help influence design, to have other teams have a greater empathy for our customers.

I love that part of research and really feeling like you’re making a difference, and being able to connect the impact of your work with specific people that you have actually connected with. I love that part of research.

And when it comes to research operations, I love feeling that we’re able to take a lot of that off the plates of anyone wanting to connect with customers. There’s a lot of moving pieces when it comes to research, a lot of moving logistical pieces, when it comes to screening and scheduling and so on and allowing teams to just focus on what the most important thing is for them. I find a lot of satisfaction in that.

It’s truly a thankless job, but when you see what teams are able to accomplish, because of the work that you did and see what their learning and insights were and seeing how they’re able to create change within the company or drive the direction of new products and features. It’s very satisfying, very fulfilling.

And that’s why I just love the space of research operations.

Erin 38:56

Garrett. Thanks for being with us today. It’s been a pleasure to have you.

Garett 38:58

Oh, thank you so much. It’s been wonderful being here.

JH 39:02

This was a blast. Thanks for hanging up. Thank you.

Erin 39:06

Thanks for listening to Awkward Silences brought to you by User Interviews.

JH 39:11

Theme music by fragile gang.

Read the full article here

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Creative Problem Solving for UX Designers

Creative Problem Solving for UX Designers

Table of Contents Hide This is what creative problem-solving is all about

How To Monetise Your Mobile App

How To Monetise Your Mobile App

Table of Contents Hide Stats on How much apps earned for last yearFree app vs

You May Also Like