Planning a Research Strategy

If you plan your research strategy carefully, the whole project will flow smoothly. Follow these steps:

1. Work out a schedule and budget for the project that requires the research. When is the deliverable—the document or the presentation—due? Do you have a budget for phone calls, database, or travel to libraries or other sites?

2. Visualize the deliverable. What kind of document will you need to deliver: a proposal, a report, a Website? What kind of oral presentation will you need to deliver?

3. Determine what information will need to be part of that deliverable. Draft an outline of the contents, focusing on the kinds of information that readers will expect to see in each part. For instance, if you are going to make a presentation to your supervisors about the use of e-mail in your company, your audience will expect specific information about the number of e-mails written and received by company employees, as well as the amount of time employees spend reading and writing it.

4. Determine what information you still need to acquire. Make a list of the pieces of information you don’t have. For instance, for the e-mail presentation, you might realize that you have anecdotal information about employee use of e-mail, but you don’t have any specifics.

5. Create questions you need to answer. Make a list of questions, such as the following:

    1. How many e-mails are written each day in our company?
    2. How many people receive each mail?
    3. How much server space is devoted to e-mails?
    4. How much time do people in each department spend writing and reading e-mail?

Writing the questions in a list forces you to think carefully about your topic. One question suggests another, and soon you have a lengthy list that you need to answer.

6. Conduct secondary research. For the e-mail presentation, you want to find out about e-mail usage in organizations similar to yours and what policies these organizations are implementing. You can find this information in journal articles and from Web-based sources, such as online journals, discussion groups, and bulletin boards.

7. Conduct primary research. You can answer some of your questions by consulting company records, by interviewing experts (such as the people in the Information Technology department in your company), and by conducting surveys and interviews of representative employees.

8. Evaluate your information. Once you have your information, you need to evaluate its quality: is it accurate, comprehensive, unbiased, and current?

9. Do more research. If the information you have acquired doesn’t sufficiently answer your questions, do more research. And, if you have thought of additional questions that need to be answered, do more research. When do you stop doing research? You will stop only when you think you have enough high-quality information to create the deliverable. For this reason, you will need to establish and stick to a schedule that will allow for multiple phases of research.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit, and my Lectures.

Adopt Open Communication

To build trust and solid working relationships with employees and others in the organization, it’s important to be seen as someone who is committed to sharing information with others and who goes beyond communicating only what is necessary. Developing a climate in which you and your team are open with information—information exchanges between you and your people, between departments or divisions, and between team members—is critical in order to function effectively.

  • Find out what your employees want to know.
  • Encourage your staff to keep one another informed and share information.
  • Establish a departmental bulletin board to keep people up-to-date on both personal and professional items of interest.
  • Hold periodic staff meetyings to share information about recent developments in the organization.
  • In staff meetings, encourage two-way communication, solicit agenda items from employees, and allow employees time to raise issues.
  • For the purpose of informal communication, hold monthly breakfast meetings that have no agenda.
  • Keep your manager and employees up-to-date by submitting a monthly activity report for your area.
  • Alert your manager to possible implications of events occurring either inside or outside of the organization. Don’t assume that your manager is aware of these implications.
  • Don’t “shoot the messenger” of bad news.
  • Ask your manager which key people you should keep informed.
  • List the key organizational people upon whom your success depends, and make a special effort to keep them informed.
  • Copy your manager on all correspondence to managers in the organization at his or her level or higher level.
  • Ask your manager about any perceived “surprises” in your area and then look for ways to avoid recurrences.
  • Don’t gloss over anything that goes wrong in your area. Report the situation as accurately as possible.
  • Talk with peers or people in other departments about “communication breakdowns.” Devise ways to avoid them.
  • Always double check all written communications before mailing; also ask yourself, “Who else should know about this?”
  • Use the “informal organization” as a way of keeping others informed. Wander around, have coffee with people, ask them questions, and so on.
  • At the end of every day, ask yourself of what occurred that should be reported to other people.
  • Return phone calls promptly.
  • Make a point of updating the appropriate people even when nothing new has developed.
  • Ask your secretary to suggest who should be copied on documents you produce.
  • Appoint a “recorder” for the meetings you conduct and have the minutes distributed to the appropriate people.
  • Promptly respond to notes, letters, and other requests so people know what you are doing about their communications.
  • If they are available, use electronic aide (voice mail, email) to pass along information that doesn’t require face-to-face exchange when you cannot do so in person or in writing.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit, Line of Sight