I got to San Diego at the beginning of January for a 2-month stay. I was expecting sunshine and warm days at the beach. Instead, I was welcomed by El Niño and a lot of scenes like this.
After a long drought, most of the locals were pretty relieved to see some rain, so I adjusted and made the best of it. Instead of bemoaning my lack of beach time, I spent my first week getting to know my new cozy apartment and finding an awesome, brand-new co-working space that I could walk to whenever the storms let up momentarily (known locally as “El In-Betweeño).
My approach to research, like my approach to life, often involves this kind of quick pivot.
- I’m planning to do a large custom study for a client– but their budget gets cut.
- The CEO wants results next week– not next month like we’d planned.
- Recruiting respondents is taking twice as long as we’d expected.
- The results are a total shock– and not what the client wants to hear.
I’ve turned full-sized focus groups into more intimate and in-depth mini-groups when people didn’t show up, adjusted planned activities on the fly to suit a group’s energy or dynamic, and approached analyses from all different angles when six different people want to tell six different stories using the same survey data.
Research, like life, isn’t always about following your plans to the letter. It’s about adjusting to changing situations and keeping the big picture in mind. Bring it on, El Niño.