What is Ethnographic Research, and what are best practices, tools and online templates for teams and organizations?
Definition of Ethnographic Research
Ethnographic Research is an information gathering method for obtaining data about people’s needs, desires and preferences. In business, this information is typically part of the Design Thinking process used when creating a new product or service. Information is usually obtained through customer interviews, however, in order to get richer information, observational methods are also employed. The goal of the Ethnographic Research process is to develop empathy in order to understand customer needs, which then guides the innovation process.
Description of Ethnographic Research
In order to successfully conduct Ethnographic Research, five steps should be taken:
Step 1: Identify Research Subjects. Based on the problem or opportunity focus, identify the people who can provide deeper insight into the issues at hand. Create a list and prioritize based on knowledge, direct experience with the issue, or other variables that allow you to gain focus for your research.
Step 2: Uncover Needs. Create an interview guide to interview customers or other research subjects. Observe customers as they use current products and services. The end result of this step is to develop transcripts and diaries that can be distilled into key themes that reveal customer needs and desires.
Step 3: Prioritize Unmet Needs. Create themes from your notes to determine which of the insights should be the primary focus when creating the new product or service. This involves determining the needs of each customer or market segment, the degree that each segment has unmet needs and deciding which or how many needs should be incorporated to an initial solution.
Step 4: Brainstorm Ideas that Address Unmet Needs. Determine ways to incorporate customers’ needs into creating a new product or service or improving something that already exists. The goal of this process should be to generate a number of a feasible solutions that incorporate what was learned from the interview and observation process in a way that brings value to the organization.
Step 5: Prioritize Ideas. This step involves deciding which ideas will meet the biggest pain points for the largest market. Choose ideas that are feasible yet address needs that are currently unmet by existing solutions.
Tools & Templates
Research and reports from Ethnographic Research are usually shared through presentations, spreadsheets, and other documents. Software can also help organize and coordinate the Ethnographic Research process.
upBOARD's Online Ethnographic Research Tools & Templates
Unlike most traditional Ethnographic Research processes, upBOARD’s online Ethnographic Research tools allow any team or organization to instantly begin working with our web templates and input forms. Our digital platform goes far beyond other software tools by including progress dashboards, data integration from existing documents or other SaaS software, elegant intuitive designs, and full access on any desktop or mobile device.
Learn more about upBOARD’s library of other innovation management online best practice tools and templates, including:
Agile Innovation Process, Business Case Development, Business Model Canvas, Concept Development, Concept Screening, Concept Testing, Customer Empathy Map, Customer Problem Statements, Design Thinking, Innovation Funnel Management Process, Innovation Horizons Model, Innovation Roadmap, Jobs to be Done, Lean Startup, Listening Hats, Open Innovation Process, Painstorming, Rapid Prototyping, SCAMPER, S-Curve Mapping, Stage Gate Process, Technology Life Cycle, Technology Scouting, and Teece’s Win-Lose Innovation Model.