Previously we talked about why and how research can keep a good thing going. This time we want to cover how research can be even more valuable in situations when things aren’t looking so rosy.
When numbers are down and budgets seem tight, it can be tempting to view research as an extravagance you simply can’t afford, trying to ride out the storm until things turn around.
But if conditions are inclement, it helps to know if you’re in the midst of a passing squall, or if more severe storms are on the way. Research is a way to both understand the present and plan for the future.
These are the two big questions you need to ask yourself when resources are tight.
Ups and downs are a natural part of life. A dip in important metrics may be nothing more than a hiccup that quickly dissipates. On the other hand, given the pace of change in today’s world, the same dip might indicate a seismic shift that has altered the landscape in significant ways, requiring some operational adjustment.
Targeted, strategic research helps discern between these two states. A company that sees a decline in sales may be experiencing an erosion in its core market or a one-off, anomalous event.
While research will cost something, the cost of overreacting—or failing to adapt before the worst effects hit—can be much, much greater.
To extend our weather metaphor, you don’t want to cancel a day at the beach for a ten-minute sprinkle. At the same time, if those raindrops are actually the outer bands of a hurricane, you need to get to shelter.
Research serves as a kind of radar that can tell you the nature and extent of the potential threat. And beyond that, it can tell you how you should respond.
Resource allocation is a dilemma even when things are going well, but it’s even harder when times are tighter than usual. When you’re focused on bread-and-butter issues, it can be difficult to choose to invest in expert research when that money could be used elsewhere.
In our experience, research can be even more useful at these times, to help you set priorities that make the most efficient use of the resources that are available. If customers, members, or donors are in decline, a research study can accomplish two things:
Whatever your organization’s challenges, research connects you with a wider world, giving you insights that ensure you’re making the best possible strategic decisions. Right when those decisions matter most.