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The Right Hand - Issue #3

The Right Hand
I am changing the name of this newsletter to better reflect what it is, and who it serves…
In Game of Thrones (GoT), The Right Hand was an important advisor to the King (or Queen). The monarch commonly turned to them for counsel when they were making important decisions.
But where did the Hand come from?
In GoT, during the Conquest of the Seven Kingdoms by House Targaryen, King Aegon I Targaryen proclaimed his half-brother, Orys Baratheon, to be “my shield, my stalwart, my strong right hand.” And with that, Orys is regarded to have been the first Hand of the King.
Insights teams (UX research, market research, and consumer analytics) are The Right Hand of the businesses they serve.
Take your rightful place. Don’t deliver data. Don’t deliver insights. Deliver counsel.
Then, check out this week’s issue of The Right Hand.

Every major issue should have dissent
An untested consensus can be devastating.
On October 5, 1973, Israeli intelligence reported that an attack by Egypt was not going to happen. There were a bunch of reasons why, including:
  • Logistical challenges confronting the Egyptians
  • It was Ramadan, a holy month of fasting, introspection, and prayer for Muslims
  • Six years prior, the Israelis delivered a thrashing in the Six-Day War.
On October 6, 1973, Egypt attacked.
A problem existed; nobody within the intelligence community challenged the idea that Egypt would attack.
They suffered from groupthink, where members of a group agree with one another for the sake of not creating conflict within the group. This harmony comes at the cost of critical thinking and evaluation of the facts.
This untested consensus gave birth to what is called the Tenth Man Rule.
The Tenth Man Rule states:
If nine of us who get the same information arrived at the same conclusion, it’s the duty of the tenth man to disagree. No matter how improbable it may seem. The tenth man has to start thinking about the assumption that the other nine are wrong. — Mossad Chief Jurgen Warmbrunn, World War Z
In practice, you do not need ten people; only the appreciation that someone will challenge the main reasoning amongst the group of individuals.
Using the Tenth Man Rule will prevent your team from taking the path of least resistance and succumbing to groupthink.
The tenth man rule ensures you have considered different sides of an issue to achieve the best outcome.
~fin~
UX researchers are like doctors, but for business
Researchers should function like doctors—seeking the root cause of problems and offering treatments to solve them.
It starts with a question.
In medicine, a patient presents with a complaint. This is accompanied by specific signs and symptoms. Signs are things that the doctor can see, i.e. elevated heart rate. Symptoms are the things that the patient is complaining of, i.e. chest pain.
In research, the business presents with a question (or problem). This is accompanied by signs and symptoms. Using the definition above, signs could be an increased churn rate and symptoms could be customer success reports of dissatisfaction.
The examination provides direction.
In medicine, the doctor will conduct an examination and observe what appears congruent, or incongruent, with the patient’s complaint.
The doctor will summarize what they have learned, i.e., “the patient presented with shortness of breath, wet skin, and chest pain.”
In research, the researcher will look at the available data and what is known. They might look at website metrics, secondary research, past primary research reports, etc.
Diagnostic tests provide additional data.
In both medicine and business, the goal is to address the most serious cases first. This means that all possibilities, also called differential diagnoses, are on the table until they are “ruled out.”
“We balance probabilities and choose the most likely. It is the scientific use of the imagination.” —Sherock Holmes and The Hound of the Baskervilles
The doctor will conduct diagnostic tests to “rule out” worst-case scenarios. In our example, the doctor will order an EKG, a chest x-ray, and blood tests to “rule out” a heart attack (the most deadly explanation for those signs and symptoms).
The researcher will conduct research that explores, understands, or evaluates the issues surrounding the question(s) they were confronted with. The research is the diagnostic test; it seeks to rule out unlikely explanations.
The diagnosis is the likely explanation.
With all the information available, the doctor and researcher will arrive at a likely explanation for the signs, symptoms, and data. The likely explanation is the probable diagnosis given the facts and data available, in order of severity.
The treatment plan is put in place.
The doctor and researcher will make “treatment” recommendations that address the original question(s) or complaint(s). These treatment recommendations will improve the condition of the patient or business.
~fin~
This week on Twitter
Ari Zelmanow
I have come to the realization that we don't want more data; we want more certainty. And we don't need a ton of data to be certain (or certain enough) in different circumstances.
Ari Zelmanow
Insights > data

Data alone can't predict the future, reveal hidden patterns, trends, and associations, and explain human behavior and interactions. https://t.co/yZXyXylpOB
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Ari Zelmanow
Ari Zelmanow @zelmanow

Elevating UX research and insights teams to their rightful place as trusted advisors to business leadership.

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