Incorporating knowledge and insight from experts in the field is a powerful way to obtain strategic clarity and underpin effective decision making.
There are so many things that are obvious once you know them, that aren’t obvious until you’re told, and we can know so much more about the future than we imagine.HP – Jonathan Brill Global Futurist and Research Director
Not all expert engagements are successful, but with planning and choosing an appropriate expert network provider, you can ensure that the investment delivers value and the expected outcome.
Our top tips for getting the most out of an expert engagement are the following
Define a clear research scope, but be flexible in terms of how it is achieved. This requires that you:
- Use the questions you want to answer to determine the experts you want to speak with, not vice-versa
- Be curious – find ways to get multiple answers from diverse individuals with relevant experience. This triangulation reduces decision bias by engaging a broad range of experts
- Expect that your research requirements and focus areas could evolve as you gain external insights
- Allow time for the ‘best’ experts to be found rather than rushing to interview people who partially meet your requirements.
- Don’t focus on cost per interview unless you think every interview offers the same potential insight!
- Understand the value of in depth interviews over surveys which can look like they will be more efficient, but can be hard to extract value from in practice.
Things to consider when choosing an expert network provider:
- Are you, or an external person going to conduct the interviews? Interviewing is a skill that people tend to assume they possess but it is something that needs to be practised if you’re to be effective at extracting insight from each expert
- Are you going to write the discussion guide? A research partner familiar with primary interviews can support you to craft questions that balance the need for broad vs deep ,probing, open vs closed answers, and an approach to uncovering quantitative data
- Would you benefit from insight support? Not all networks do this or can add value through the research process (design, expert identification, screening, interviews, insight summary and recommendations)
- How will you manage compliance as you engage with experts outside the traditional route?
- Will you engage with more than one expert network provider? People do, but it can reduce the calibre of experts available as multiple parties approach the same people numerous times, often in fairly unintelligent ways, and put people off participating.
If you’d like to explore the power of expert networks for your organisation, please get in touch.