Becoming an industry-ready user researcher is a difficult journey. It is a composite skill, and the context is typically dynamic. Applying what has been taught as research in design school will fail in many cases. If you are self-taught, it is even harder.

Here is a simple framework that can help keep you sane as a user researcher in the product world. I call it the AASA framework, which stands for Anchor, Audit, Scan, and Ask.

Anchor involves gathering existing points of view within the company and the domain.

Audit involves having the researcher's point of view based on what they see and believe. Yes, your believability is important.

Scan involves gathering the market's point of view, including all the incumbents and substitutes.

Ask involves gathering a specific point of view from the users.

There is no substitute for primary research, and your questions are better when you do it as the last step, not as the first one. Even if your organization is not a fan of primary research, you still have enough work as a researcher that you can use to add value to your product decisions.

Now that ChatGPT is available, it can enhance your anchoring and scanning.

“ If there is any one secret of success, it lies in the ability to get the other person's point of view and see things from that person's angle as well as from your own”- Henry Ford

No research at all is a bad idea, and no primary research will keep you less curious and, as a result, less innovative. You organization might think that research takes time but not spending that time will shunt your design. You will design from available inspirations and not from your actual user needs and wants. The choice is yours.

Intangible is invisible. That makes it hard for investors to trust. I don’t blame when leaders are not gung-ho about research in this short term world. It takes wisdom and a lot of experience to invest in research.

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