ENGAGED RESEARCH: DOING STUFF THAT MATTERS

People in White Coats?

For a lot of folks, the word research still conjures up images of grey-haired men and women; yes, I can see you stifling a yawn now.

Well, there’s research and research …

Make a Difference

There’s lots out there that’s no use to anyone whatsoever. Then there’s the stuff that makes a difference; that’s what I’m interested in. My interest is and has always been in research that makes a difference. Some people call it engaged research, others call it applied.

I don’t care what you call it, as long as it solves a problem as has a value to someone.

Engaged Research

It’s a simple enough process:

  1. Locate a problem that you care about

  2. Study past solutions to similar problems

  3. Develop a framework to investigate to the one you’ve identified

  4. Collect and analyse evidence based on the framework

  5. Reflect against the framework and previous solutions

  6. Come up with a new solution

Repeat as often as you wish, sharing with other people with an interest in the solution, when you have what you think is a workable solution – you’ve already started its implementation.

In my world, you also need to write down what you did.

Making a Difference in the Real World

Over the years I’ve worked on big projects and small ones that used research to make a difference.

One student I worked with redesigned a large part of the production process for one of the best-selling cars in the world. Another use engaged research to map out the design and construction of stormwater drains at a major European airport. A Canadian student developed a marketing plan for her parents’ gas grill company. An Indian student re-developed HR recruitment practices for a large electronics manufacturer in the Netherlands. An Australian student was able to analyse the crisis management performance of a large FMCG company and improve their approach. Another planned and commenced implementation of one of the world’s first Internet market places for business-to-business pharmaceutical sales. One of my students developed a scenario planning approach for a major food manufacturer. Others have simply devised business development plans for new businesses.

Solving Problems and Creating Ideas

Engaged research is, at its simplest, a structured means of solving problems or of generating business ideas.

Some of the world’s greatest businesses were not started by entrepreneurs; they were started by scientists or creatives. It’s where Google started and they’re still there now; in fact, almost any of the tech giants are built on engaged research.

I Try Not to Do Boring. I Want to Make Difference

I try really hard not to do boring; I don’t want to work with people who do boring.

Engaged research is my interest; making a difference is my interest.

If you’re interested in making a difference to your leadership your business or your life, click here and take a look at our 12-month mentoring programme, Transforming Leaders. It leads to an MBA from a British university, and you develop engaged research that will make a difference.

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