The DI Research Difference
At DesignIntelligence Research, we believe solid information and valid sense-making are essential for both design and leadership. In an era
of data deluge, sweeping change, and rampant bias, we recognize the difficulty of keeping up with, sorting out, and trusting the
information that floods our feeds. As we set out to deliver relevant, reliable research, we feel it’s necessary to anchor every
project in three unique commitments – three ways our subscribers can trust that we’ve done the deep dive, found buried treasure, and
mapped it out for them in full. We call these three guiding lights Pipeline,
Parallax, and Purpose.
The first guidepost, our pipeline, is a methodology we follow for every research project. It begins with a burning question. Usually a topic will capture our team’s interest, or a client will ask us something truly profound, and we’ll sense an opportunity for discovery. Our curiosity will kick in, generating several (or several dozen) questions at once. We document these questions to form a team outline, which operates as a catch basin for our findings. The next stage is to split up and gather all the data we can about these primary questions.
Returning to base camp with answers, we begin to share findings with each other, which ignites new curiosities. At this point, it becomes important to check each other’s sources, winnowing out anything questionable or irrelevant. We also revisit our original driving questions and iterate on them, leading to the next leg of the journey. This is where the pipeline begins to spiral back to where it started, but at a higher altitude: with a new level of collective understanding, we repeat the visioning process. Then, we head out for another hunt.
This loop may repeat itself many times, spiraling wider as we gather more data, or narrowing as we tighten our focus. Inevitably, this spiral pipeline will always bring up conflicting viewpoints – a sign that we’ve truly made a discovery. This is where the second guidepost, Parallax, is of utmost importance.
Parallax means a difference of perspective, as with two eyes that see from different angles. Closing one eye may help to resolve conflict, but it also flattens the view. With both eyes open, we not only take in more of the visual field – we also gain depth perception. It’s because of the conflicting views that we become aware of a deeper reality, a more complete whole. Our commitment as a team, when we arrive at conflicting viewpoints in the research field, is to deeply interrogate our senses rather than to shut them off. In this mode, we seek new models and interpretations that can accommodate the disparity, or account for the conflict at a greater level of depth.
That’s the value of parallax: depth. To us, depth in research means an acknowledgement of nuance, a close encounter with diverse perspectives, and a comprehensive framework that can integrate them all. This integration is never easy, but always worthwhile – which brings us to the third guidepost: Purpose.
For most of us, the struggle we face in the information economy is not about scarcity, but abundance: there’s an inscrutable glut of information to parse, and most of it is noise. For any piece of research to be truly worth your effort, it needs to be purposeful. Our commitment is never to burden our members with irrelevant reports, no matter how much rigor they may have taken to produce.
Just as we check ourselves in the face of conflict, we also question our work at the start and finish of every project: Does it have predictive value? Does it clarify the design landscape? Does it improve decision making? Does it reveal a deeper pattern of wholeness? Does it enhance the work of the designer? Does it have a real Purpose for the built environment industry? If the answer to these questions happens to be “no,” we won’t bother you with it.
Our hope is that by keeping our commitments to Pipeline, Parallax, and Purpose, we produce an ongoing stream of high-value, deep-dive research that informs, inspires, and uplifts our subscribers and their design practices. We look forward to engaging you in a deeper conversation with each new piece of research from DesignIntelligence Research.