What is Generative Research

What is Generative Research? Methods, How & Why

23 minutes read

There is no doubt that research is at the heart of every product development process. But there are so many types of research you can conduct and it can be confusing at times especially when you are at the discovery phase of development. This is where generative research is very critical and can help you form a concrete idea. The goals and aims of generative research are often different depending on your project and objectives. However, the goal of every generative study is to define the issue you wish to address with information and insights gained from the very users for whom you are developing a product. 

Generative research, sometimes called creative or exploratory study, is “a sort of research that aids researchers in gaining a deeper understanding of users in order to discover possibilities for solutions or innovation.” Generative research, unlike evaluative research, is concerned with generating information about our clients and the problem area surrounding our product.

In this post, we explore the world of generative research, methods, a few generative research questions to get you started, and why generative research is important for your development process. 

What is Generative Research?

What is Generative Research

Generative research is a type of inquiry that aims to discover unknowns or unmet needs during the ideation stages of your product development. As a result, it is primarily employed at the inception stage, when you’re looking to innovate based on a deep knowledge of customer needs and wants. You may better understand your users’ habits by getting to know the users thoroughly, allowing you to invest more successfully as a consequence of your understanding and newly gained insights.

This approach is sometimes called discovery, basic or exploratory research, and it differs from other forms of qualitative research used for new product development in that instead of seeking to obtain feedback on an existing product or service, it relates to ideation. 

Generative research takes place during the exploration phase of the user research process and is generally done before the start of design and product development. Early generative research will help guarantee that you understand the problem space effectively by looking at people’s causation, need, and pain spots.

Conducting research with the people you’re developing for might also help you in identifying new possibilities for an existing product or enhancing the one you already have. When businesses try to come up with new ideas, generative research is usually a good approach to acquiring fresh insights.

Software businesses are a good example. The Lean Startup approach is a popular method employed by many Software as a Service (SaaS) startups. It leans strongly on the concept of “getting out of the building,” treating early days as research experiments to determine whether your business assumptions about the commercial opportunity are correct or not.

The importance of maintaining an open mind and avoiding preconceived notions regarding what you will find, as well as ensuring that the problem definition is sound, are two crucial aspects of generative research.

Step By Step: How to Perform Generative Research

How to Perform Generative Research

1. Define Your Research Goals

What are you hoping to learn from your generative research? What specific questions do you want to answer?

2. Decide On Your Methodology

How will you go about conducting your research? Will you use interviews, focus groups, or surveys?

3. Create A Prototype

Once you’ve decided on your methodology, it’s time to create a prototype of your research tool. This could be an interview guide, focus group questionnaire, or survey questionnaire.

4. Recruit Participants

Next, you’ll need to recruit participants for your study. This step is crucial in ensuring that you get the data you need to answer your research questions.

5. Conduct The Research

This is the meat of your generative research project. Be sure to follow your protocol closely, and take detailed notes or recordings of your sessions. tl;dv helps you record, transcribe and take notes for all of your research needs. It works with Google Meet and Zoom automatically once you install the browser extension. 

6. Analyze The Data

Once you’ve collected all of your data, it’s time to start analyzing it. Look for patterns and themes in the responses you received, and start formulating answers to your research questions.

7. Share Your Findings

Finally, share your findings with others! Present your results at a conference, publish them in a journal, or simply post them online for others to see.

Types of Questions to Ask During Generative Research

Questions to Ask During Generative Research

When conducting generative research, it is important to ask questions that will elicit the most information possible from participants. Below are some examples of types of questions that can be asked during generative research:

1. What led you to this point?

2. What are your current thoughts and feelings?

3. What needs or goals do you have?

4. How do you currently go about solving this problem?

5. What are the successes and failures you have experienced with this problem?

6. What alternative solutions have you considered?

7. Why did you choose the current solution over other alternatives?

8. How does this problem make you feel? annoyed, frustrated, helpless, etc.

9. What are the consequences of this problem?

10. How much time and effort have you put into solving this problem?

11. What are the stakes involved with this problem?

12. What are your biggest fears and concerns about this problem?

13. Who else is affected by this problem?

14. What impact does this problem have on your life? work, family, social, etc.

15. What would be the ideal solution to this problem?

Conducting Generative Research

Conducting Generative Research

There are a few different ways that you can go about conducting generative research. Here are a few examples:

1. User Interviews

One-on-one user interviews are a great way to get in-depth information from your participants. When conducting interviews, you’ll want to prepare a list of open-ended questions ahead of time that you can use to guide the conversation. It’s also important to be flexible and be prepared to ask follow-up questions based on what your participants say.

2. Focus Groups

Focus groups are another great way to gather in-depth information from participants. In a focus group setting, you’ll have a group of 6-10 people come together to discuss the topic at hand. As with interviews, you’ll want to prepare a list of open-ended questions ahead of time to help guide the conversation.

3. Diaries

Diaries are a way for participants to track their thoughts, feelings, and experiences over a period of time. This can be especially helpful if you’re studying something that people don’t typically talk about openly, such as sensitive topics. When using diaries, you’ll want to provide participants with guidelines on how often they should write and what kinds of things they should include.

4. Observations

Observations involve watching people in their natural environment and taking note of what you see. This can be done in person or virtually (e.g., through video footage). When observing people, it’s important to pay attention to both what they say and do, as well as their body language and the context in which they’re behaving.

5. Ethnography

Ethnography is a type of observation that involves immersing yourself in a community or group to understand its culture and values. This can be done by spending time with them in their natural environment, participating in their activities, and talking to them about their lives. 

Generative research is an important tool that can be used to help you better understand your users and develop solutions to problems that are user-centered and likely to be successful. When conducting generative research, be sure to keep a few key questions in mind, and use a variety of methods to gather information from your participants.

6. Workshops

Workshops are a great way to get a group of people together to generate ideas and solutions to a problem. When hosting a workshop, you’ll want to provide participants with some background information on the issue at hand, and then give them time to brainstorm and come up with potential solutions. You can also use workshops as an opportunity to get feedback on potential solutions that you’re already considering.

7. Brainstorming

Brainstorming is another great way to generate ideas, either on your own or with a group of people. When brainstorming, it’s important to set aside any judgment and just let the ideas flow. Once you have a good list of ideas, you can start to narrow down and focus on the most promising ones.

8. Prototyping

Prototyping is a great way to test out ideas and get feedback from users. When prototyping, you’ll want to create a simplified version of your idea that you can use to gather feedback. It’s important to keep in mind that prototypes are not meant to be perfect; they’re just meant to help you get a better understanding of how your idea might work in practice.

9. Surveys

Surveys are a helpful tool for gathering information from a large number of people relatively quickly. When creating a survey, you’ll want to make sure that your questions are clear and concise, and that you offer participants the option to skip any questions that they don’t feel comfortable answering.

10. User Testing

User testing involves observing how people use a product or service and then gathering feedback from them. This can be done through in-person testing or by using video footage. When conducting user testing, it’s important to keep in mind that people may not always behave the same way in a real-world setting as they do in a controlled environment.

Why Generative Research is Important

Why Generative Research is Important

Directly involving users right from the start of your product development is fast becoming the norm. This way, you can get to start with viable ideas that solve real, not perceived problems in the way that users see as perfect for their problems. Users are now actively involved in the product design process, which allows for more accurate problem-solution translation. Users are no longer seen as passive customers; instead, they engage in the product’s development.

The search for meaning and purpose is a timeless human quest. We try to understand people by observing their behaviors, listening to what they say, and reading between the lines. Generative research tells us why people do things and what they are thinking at any given moment. It takes us out of the product realm and into the lives of those we are attempting to assist. When we focus on a product instead of its broader impact, we can become quite narrow-minded. All we think about is how our products will benefit people; we don’t consider how others may be impacted as well.

For instance, we are working on a new product in the commerce niche. The product we are building is supposed to be relatively simple: it provides e-commerce companies with a social media repository. They could use it to aggregate the posts they were tagged in, and then repurpose those posts for their own, authentic, user-generated marketing efforts.

For example, let’s say we’re working on a new product in the commerce niche. The product we’re creating is intended to be simple: a social media repository for e-commerce firms. They could utilize it to aggregate the posts that they had been tagged in, and then repurpose them for their own, genuine user-generated marketing initiatives.

First, we inquire as to how we may improve the product and what improvements might be made to make their lives easier. We are not user-centric; instead, we acted as if the user revolved around our product rather than the other way around. We missed a lot of their pain spots and requirements because of this approach.

Finally, once we began doing generative research, we discovered information about our consumers’ lives and workflows. We learned that they attempt to put together reports early in the morning for overseas clients. We noticed that some of them wanted to use their journeys to go through parts of the repository’s social media content.

Around the office, people are tweaking their appearance to look good in front of their bosses during stressful presentations in order to increase their chances of getting a raise or promotion. Many had families and wanted to be more productive in order to arrive home earlier so they could see their children and partners. We were able to create functionality far beyond our original product-centric concept as a result of this knowledge, which benefited our consumers much more than we imagined possible.

We learned a lot from this information, but we would’ve never obtained it if we’d asked about functions. Generative research, on the other hand, encourages people to tell compelling stories about their lives that are much more than simply a product or service. It provides you with detailed information about their broad goals, needs, motives, and reasons for actions. And knowing why someone does things will provide you with the knowledge you need to make a meaningful impact in their life.

Conclusion

In short, the primary goal of generative research is to get closer to your users to help ensure that they are baked into the design process rather than being used as an afterthought. You are trying to ensure there is clarity as to the problem you are looking to solve. One significant element of this methodology is it helps expose needs based on observed behavior rather than relying on users to express their needs. Remember to use tl;dv to record all your sessions, take notes and generate free transcripts for your interviews and tests!

There is no doubt that research is at the heart of every product development process. But there are so many types of research you can conduct and it can be confusing at times especially when you are at the discovery phase of development. This is where generative research is very critical and can help you form a concrete idea. The goals and aims of generative research are often different depending on your project and objectives. However, the goal of every generative study is to define the issue you wish to address with information and insights gained from the very users for whom you are developing a product. 

Generative research, sometimes called creative or exploratory study, is “a sort of research that aids researchers in gaining a deeper understanding of users in order to discover possibilities for solutions or innovation.” Generative research, unlike evaluative research, is concerned with generating information about our clients and the problem area surrounding our product.

In this post, we explore the world of generative research, methods, a few generative research questions to get you started, and why generative research is important for your development process. 

What is Generative Research?

Generative research is a type of inquiry that aims to discover unknowns or unmet needs during the ideation stages of your product development. As a result, it is primarily employed at the inception stage, when you’re looking to innovate based on a deep knowledge of customer needs and wants. You may better understand your users’ habits by getting to know the users thoroughly, allowing you to invest more successfully as a consequence of your understanding and newly gained insights.

This approach is sometimes called discovery, basic or exploratory research, and it differs from other forms of qualitative research used for new product development in that instead of seeking to obtain feedback on an existing product or service, it relates to ideation. 

Generative research takes place during the exploration phase of the user research process and is generally done before the start of design and product development. Early generative research will help guarantee that you understand the problem space effectively by looking at people’s causation, need, and pain spots.

Conducting research with the people you’re developing for might also help you in identifying new possibilities for an existing product or enhancing the one you already have. When businesses try to come up with new ideas, generative research is usually a good approach to acquiring fresh insights.

Software businesses are a good example. The Lean Startup approach is a popular method employed by many Software as a Service (SaaS) startups. It leans strongly on the concept of “getting out of the building,” treating early days as research experiments to determine whether your business assumptions about the commercial opportunity are correct or not.

The importance of maintaining an open mind and avoiding preconceived notions regarding what you will find, as well as ensuring that the problem definition is sound, are two crucial aspects of generative research.

Step By Step: How to Perform Generative Research

1. Define Your Research Goals

What are you hoping to learn from your generative research? What specific questions do you want to answer?

2. Decide On Your Methodology

How will you go about conducting your research? Will you use interviews, focus groups, or surveys?

3. Create A Prototype

Once you’ve decided on your methodology, it’s time to create a prototype of your research tool. This could be an interview guide, focus group questionnaire, or survey questionnaire.

4. Recruit Participants

Next, you’ll need to recruit participants for your study. This step is crucial in ensuring that you get the data you need to answer your research questions.

5. Conduct The Research

This is the meat of your generative research project. Be sure to follow your protocol closely, and take detailed notes or recordings of your sessions. tl;dv helps you record, transcribe and take notes for all of your research needs. It works with Google Meet and Zoom automatically once you install the browser extension. 

6. Analyze The Data

Once you’ve collected all of your data, it’s time to start analyzing it. Look for patterns and themes in the responses you received, and start formulating answers to your research questions.

7. Share Your Findings

Finally, share your findings with others! Present your results at a conference, publish them in a journal, or simply post them online for others to see.

Types of Questions to Ask During Generative Research 

When conducting generative research, it is important to ask questions that will elicit the most information possible from participants. Below are some examples of types of questions that can be asked during generative research:

1. What led you to this point?

2. What are your current thoughts and feelings?

3. What needs or goals do you have?

4. How do you currently go about solving this problem?

5. What are the successes and failures you have experienced with this problem?

6. What alternative solutions have you considered?

7. Why did you choose the current solution over other alternatives?

8. How does this problem make you feel? annoyed, frustrated, helpless, etc.

9. What are the consequences of this problem?

10. How much time and effort have you put into solving this problem?

11. What are the stakes involved with this problem?

12. What are your biggest fears and concerns about this problem?

13. Who else is affected by this problem?

14. What impact does this problem have on your life? work, family, social, etc.

15. What would be the ideal solution to this problem?

Conducting Generative Research

There are a few different ways that you can go about conducting generative research. Here are a few examples:

1. User Interviews

One-on-one user interviews are a great way to get in-depth information from your participants. When conducting interviews, you’ll want to prepare a list of open-ended questions ahead of time that you can use to guide the conversation. It’s also important to be flexible and be prepared to ask follow-up questions based on what your participants say.

2. Focus Groups

Focus groups are another great way to gather in-depth information from participants. In a focus group setting, you’ll have a group of 6-10 people come together to discuss the topic at hand. As with interviews, you’ll want to prepare a list of open-ended questions ahead of time to help guide the conversation.

3. Diaries

Diaries are a way for participants to track their thoughts, feelings, and experiences over a period of time. This can be especially helpful if you’re studying something that people don’t typically talk about openly, such as sensitive topics. When using diaries, you’ll want to provide participants with guidelines on how often they should write and what kinds of things they should include.

4. Observations

Observations involve watching people in their natural environment and taking note of what you see. This can be done in person or virtually (e.g., through video footage). When observing people, it’s important to pay attention to both what they say and do, as well as their body language and the context in which they’re behaving.

5. Ethnography

Ethnography is a type of observation that involves immersing yourself in a community or group to understand its culture and values. This can be done by spending time with them in their natural environment, participating in their activities, and talking to them about their lives. 

Generative research is an important tool that can be used to help you better understand your users and develop solutions to problems that are user-centered and likely to be successful. When conducting generative research, be sure to keep a few key questions in mind, and use a variety of methods to gather information from your participants.

6. Workshops

Workshops are a great way to get a group of people together to generate ideas and solutions to a problem. When hosting a workshop, you’ll want to provide participants with some background information on the issue at hand, and then give them time to brainstorm and come up with potential solutions. You can also use workshops as an opportunity to get feedback on potential solutions that you’re already considering.

7. Brainstorming

Brainstorming is another great way to generate ideas, either on your own or with a group of people. When brainstorming, it’s important to set aside any judgment and just let the ideas flow. Once you have a good list of ideas, you can start to narrow down and focus on the most promising ones.

8. Prototyping

Prototyping is a great way to test out ideas and get feedback from users. When prototyping, you’ll want to create a simplified version of your idea that you can use to gather feedback. It’s important to keep in mind that prototypes are not meant to be perfect; they’re just meant to help you get a better understanding of how your idea might work in practice.

9. Surveys

Surveys are a helpful tool for gathering information from a large number of people relatively quickly. When creating a survey, you’ll want to make sure that your questions are clear and concise, and that you offer participants the option to skip any questions that they don’t feel comfortable answering.

10. User Testing

User testing involves observing how people use a product or service and then gathering feedback from them. This can be done through in-person testing or by using video footage. When conducting user testing, it’s important to keep in mind that people may not always behave the same way in a real-world setting as they do in a controlled environment.

Why Generative Research is Important

Directly involving users right from the start of your product development is fast becoming the norm. This way, you can get to start with viable ideas that solve real, not perceived problems in the way that users see as perfect for their problems. Users are now actively involved in the product design process, which allows for more accurate problem-solution translation. Users are no longer seen as passive customers; instead, they engage in the product’s development.

The search for meaning and purpose is a timeless human quest. We try to understand people by observing their behaviors, listening to what they say, and reading between the lines. Generative research tells us why people do things and what they are thinking at any given moment. It takes us out of the product realm and into the lives of those we are attempting to assist. When we focus on a product instead of its broader impact, we can become quite narrow-minded. All we think about is how our products will benefit people; we don’t consider how others may be impacted as well.

For instance, we are working on a new product in the commerce niche. The product we are building is supposed to be relatively simple: it provides e-commerce companies with a social media repository. They could use it to aggregate the posts they were tagged in, and then repurpose those posts for their own, authentic, user-generated marketing efforts.

For example, let’s say we’re working on a new product in the commerce niche. The product we’re creating is intended to be simple: a social media repository for e-commerce firms. They could utilize it to aggregate the posts that they had been tagged in, and then repurpose them for their own, genuine user-generated marketing initiatives.

First, we inquire as to how we may improve the product and what improvements might be made to make their lives easier. We are not user-centric; instead, we acted as if the user revolved around our product rather than the other way around. We missed a lot of their pain spots and requirements because of this approach.

Finally, once we began doing generative research, we discovered information about our consumers’ lives and workflows. We learned that they attempt to put together reports early in the morning for overseas clients. We noticed that some of them wanted to use their journeys to go through parts of the repository’s social media content.

Around the office, people are tweaking their appearance to look good in front of their bosses during stressful presentations in order to increase their chances of getting a raise or promotion. Many had families and wanted to be more productive in order to arrive home earlier so they could see their children and partners. We were able to create functionality far beyond our original product-centric concept as a result of this knowledge, which benefited our consumers much more than we imagined possible.

We learned a lot from this information, but we would’ve never obtained it if we’d asked about functions. Generative research, on the other hand, encourages people to tell compelling stories about their lives that are much more than simply a product or service. It provides you with detailed information about their broad goals, needs, motives, and reasons for actions. And knowing why someone does things will provide you with the knowledge you need to make a meaningful impact in their life.

Conclusion

In short, the primary goal of generative research is to get closer to your users to help ensure that they are baked into the design process rather than being used as an afterthought. You are trying to ensure there is clarity as to the problem you are looking to solve. One significant element of this methodology is it helps expose needs based on observed behavior rather than relying on users to express their needs. Remember to use tl;dv to record all your sessions, take notes and generate free transcripts for yoru interviews and tests!