Sometimes great research isn’t enough

Foundational research studies, like segmentations and U&As (usage and attitudes), provide critical frameworks for businesses to create strategies and plans and ensure they are focused on the right opportunities for acquisition, retention, and monetisation. And yet, as Practitioners and Buyers, we have all seen (too many) research projects fail to make the impact we had hoped for.  

The problem is rarely the quality of the research itself; it is the challenge of embedding new frameworks and insights across a business and changing organisational behaviours. Change carries risk and uncertainty and requires everyone in the business to move in sync, which doesn’t happen without planning for change. 

Making personal behavioural change is difficult enough but at least success is down to the individual alone. In an organisational context, change requires employees to want it, believe in it and think it possible.  

This week, Mike shines a light on how to embed foundational studies to deliver meaningful change for a business. 

1/ Change requires a compelling narrative 

Introducing new foundational studies asks colleagues to think and behave differently, but often they don’t understand why change is necessary. Change needs a compelling narrative, typically from a senior executive, as to why it is needed, what the vision is and what are the consequences of not embracing it. 

People are inherently resistant to change, particularly in large organisations. Even when problems are known, it is sometimes easier to ‘do nothing’ than face up to the uncertainty of what change may bring. 

Stating the vision and providing details on what needs to change in order to succeed is critical to motivating and enabling people to behave differently. 

Before you embark on a foundational piece of research, ensure the narrative is in place.  


2/ Role models can drive change  

Good narratives can become great narratives when they are reinforced by authentic, trusted and credible messengers from across the business.  

As human beings we naturally seek approval, recognition and belonging, looking to leaders for guidance and inspiration. We will often embrace change more readily if we know our colleagues are doing the same, or if we implicitly know there are expectations on us. In a recent blog, Pranay explores how leaders can influence change with words of affirmation.  

Creating a team of role models and champions can be invaluable in helping people change.  

Ensuring there are champions at different levels of an organisation with the ability to communicate and influence with credibility and authority is vital to embed change in harmony. If they believe in your narrative, and can act as a role model for the change you are trying to create, others will follow. 


3/ Change happens when the right structures are in place 

If motivation to change is defined by embracing the narrative, then the ability to change depends on minimising the physical and mental effort required. Unfreezing old habits and refreezing new ones is hard. It is essential for businesses to create the right context for change through the right organisational structures, plans, procedures and performance measurements. 

Working through change requires ongoing training, time and reinforcement of expectations. Before you embark on a foundational study, consider the operational changes that are expected from different teams, and plan for them early. 


Bringing about change requires people to embrace and put into action what is ultimately somebody else’s vision and strategy. Asking people to change requires businesses to lower the barriers and work with people to help make it happen.  

From the start of one of these foundational studies, consider ‘who’ in the organisation will be the critical end users and influencers, and find ways to bring them into the research process early. 

At Incite, we work in partnership with clients to deliver help them deliver impact and change.  If you have a business challenge to throw at us, please do get in touch.