Since I published my first article about Polaris (2017) and the one about Atomic Research (2018), and throughout social media and in-person interactions, people approached me with a lot of concerns and a ton of questions about the concept, practice, and tools. Here are the top three concerns and questions I’ve been asked and their respective answers and mitigation.
❌ No reports? Are you dumbing it down to nuggets? Really?
The concern: There’s no room for researchers to synthesize findings into coherent, meaningful insights based in deep analysis.
Mitigation: Atomic Research offers something much more powerful than a document or slide deck. It offers a dynamic, living playlist of nuggets that is continuously updated. It offers a way for anyone to create their own grouping of insights on topics in which they have an interest.
Researchers can be those people. They have a ton of say in deciding what is a high-quality nugget that makes it into the system, and they can curate nugget playlists based on research questions they have answered through dedicated studies (user research studies that begin with clearly defined research questions, goals, and domain of team interest).
Nuggets are making research and researchers more powerful, impactful, and meaningful. Researchers increase their job security and perceived (and actual) contribution to an organization’s learning and growth.
📐 How do you handle quantitative research?
The concern: It’s hard to imagine how quantitative research such as surveys and continuous metric tracking is built into atomic research.
Mitigation: Quantitative research is not forced into the Atomic Research approach. There is no intent here whatsoever to “nuggetize” (or atomize) quantitative findings. The way I see it, and I must admit this is currently a theory until I make it happen and use it for at least a year, measuring the user experience happens in parallel to Atomic Research. Once a certain metric changes significantly, then a playlist of nuggets of customers talking about or showing their experience is helpful in understanding why that number has changed.
🥂 Does Atomic Research only work with Continuous Research?
The concern: Atomic Research is a big enough change for us in terms of how we derive insights, store, and share them. Switching to Continuous Research is going to be too big of a change for us to handle.
Mitigation: While Atomic Research does not depend on Continuous Research, it can definitely benefit from it. If you only do dedicated studies, Atomic Research can be helpful in documenting all of your insights and accessing them in future fishing expeditions (especially when someone important asks, what do we know about x?).
If you add Continuous Research to the mix (or completely switch to that approach), you can benefit from having instant answers to questions nobody ever asked and insights about user needs. Continuous Research is extremely open-ended in nature and does not limit participant answers to any specific domain. When those insights are “nuggetized”, they immediately serve as a huge body of knowledge that negates the need for many future dedicated studies.
More questions about Atomic or Continuous Research? Ask away!
Benjamin Gadbaw and I created the atomic research approach and Polaris product and framework.
Key Experience Indicators: How to decide what to measure?
Foundations of atomic research
Continuous user research in 11.6 seconds
Measuring the WeWork Member Experience
Deciding what to work on
The atomic unit of a research insight