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the proof is in the process: the research phase

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“I know the world isn’t fair, but why isn’t it ever unfair in my favor?” Bill Watterson, of Calvin and Hobbes fame, wasn’t the only person to ever ask this question, and he certainly wasn’t the only person who didn’t get a good answer.

Every project at andculture begins with a research phase. This phase is designed to develop a deep understanding of the many variables that impact a project: Who are the key audiences? What are the competitors already doing? What impact will this have? We keep a laundry list of questions on hand to guide these discussions, but it eventually boils down to one key thing: is this idea worth creating/building/changing?

Unfortunately, the answer is not always what we or the client want to hear.

The purpose of research is not to affirm an idea, it's to determine whether or not an idea is good to begin with. Kickstarting a new business idea or project is risky. It’s even riskier when done blindly. It can be difficult to see the value in research—especially when it doesn’t produce the results you hoped it would. Nevertheless, it plays a critical role in the success of a project for a few reasons:

1) Research is unbiased. Just because you think you have an idea that can change the world doesn’t mean the world does. Good research doesn’t play favorites, so it won’t tell you your idea is good just to be nice.

2) Research reveals the unexpected. Research inspires new ideas and uncovers potential roadblocks before a project begins. It helps you make proactive decisions by raising questions or concerns you may not have considered.

3) Research pays off. The effort that goes into a research project isn’t always valued or desired in the short term, but it pays off in the long term. Research creates a blueprint to help you navigate headaches and regret later on.

Research is challenging. It takes time, resources and it’s quite possible that the findings and outputs will disappoint. Sounds enticing, right? It should.

Investing in the short term is a non-negotiable if you want to guarantee long-term success.