The trick we use to make research findings memorable at Monzo

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Research is an important part of how we build things at Monzo. It's our mission to make money work for everyone, and the only way we can do that is by understanding people's wants and needs. Researchers typically work in product teams that are made of different professions, from designers, product managers and software engineers, to writers, marketers and business analysts. And all these different people might have a different level of understanding of the problem space they're working in. In this post we'll explain how we make the things we learn through research memorable for everyone who works here.

Presenting research findings can be challenging

We humans tend not to accept new information as easily if we weren't involved in finding it out.

When we hear something new, we tend to think we knew it all along. We also assume everyone else thinks like us. This makes the researcher's job a tricky one. And it's made harder by the fact that many people expect new user research to tell them something they didn't already know.

You can ask people upfront what they expect to happen

User Experience Design expert Jared Spool wrote about his favourite trick he uses to avoid the "we knew it already" scenario. He asks people, especially senior executives, what they're expecting to see or happen before the research begins.

What makes this method so effective is it reveals people's existing knowledge, especially when you do it as a group. It also avoids people needing to try to appear smart in front of their colleagues.

The trick we use to make research findings stick

At Monzo, we use another trick. The technique is a simple true or false game. Here's how it works:

  1. the researchers structure their report around the key findings. They then present these as "fact or fiction", "true or false" or an equivalent.

  2. in the room, you give everyone a way to provide their opinion and turn the debrief into a game. This can be done using post-its (green for true and pink for false, for example), or via a blind voting system (like Kahoot), or any other means.

  3. the researcher presents a finding from the research and asks the room to show their opinion. So with post-its for example, to hold up the appropriate colour or to vote if you're using a game.

  4. people can see the results around the room and discuss the finding or insight as a team.

It's especially useful for exploratory or generative research debriefs

We've found this technique works especially well when presenting findings or insight from early-stage research – also known as exploratory, generative or discovery-stage research – rather than evaluative research.

Early-stage research is focused on learning about people's behaviours, goal, motivations and attitudes, and the context in which those happen to understand a problem space.

Evaluative research is focused on testing how well a solution meets someone's needs.

Exploratory research tends to be more time-intensive, so people who aren't researchers don't tend to spend as much time getting involved.

Because we don't accept new information as easily if we weren't involved

When people aren't heavily involved in research, they tend not to internalise or fully understand the knowledge as well as people who take part in either collecting it or analysing it. It's a syndrome of a cognitive bias called the empathy gap.

It's one of the reasons that research needs to be a team sport, because it's not as useful or impactful when it happens in a vacuum outside of the team and you share it later.

We also tend to think we knew things all along

Another important cognitive bias relevant to people making decisions based on research is hindsight bias.

Hindsight bias happens when someone learns about an event and believes that they knew it was going to happen before it did. It's also known as the "knew-it-all-along" phenomenon.

A cousin of the hindsight bias is the overconfidence bias, which suggests that a person's confidence in their judgements is greater than the objective accuracy of those judgements.

And we think that everyone else thinks like us

We tend to overestimate the extent to which our own beliefs, preferences and habits are typical of those around us – it's called the false-consensus bias.

What that means is, we're more likely to think that others have the same knowledge that we do, when they don't. We might think that other people think the same way and make the same conclusions we do, when it's not true.

People think that research has to tell them something new

Some people have an expectation that they'll attend a debrief and learn a new fact or nugget that will shock them. Sometimes this happens, but sometimes it doesn't.

So you might come out of a debrief one day and think "we knew that already". Or as a researcher, you might hear someone say that to you. Don't worry, that's not the point of research. It's a bonus if it happens.

Research is about making better decisions as a team

The point of research isn't to teach you something new. The point of research is to be more certain about our product decisions, so that we can create something useful and valuable for the people using it.

You shouldn't come out of a debrief shocked. You should come out with clarity. After discussing the research results, the team should have more confidence about the direction of the product, and a set of actions or next steps.

Our trick makes debriefs a memorable, engaging experience

Rather than being a passive debrief where people can become disengaged, this technique lets everyone play an active role by engaging with the information.

We've found that teams tend to better remember the information – there might be a shock factor after all – and they realise that their peers might not have the same knowledge, perceptions or level of understanding as they do.

It's unlikely for a team to correctly guess all of the answers, and if they do, they can rest assured as to their confidence and clarity. And the value of debriefs is in the team discussion, which inevitably happens in this process.

If you found this interesting, come join us!

We’ve got plenty of open roles across the company, including ones in design and research. Take a look at our careers page for more detail and to apply.