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03 - The Wild, Wild, West of ResearchOps
Episode 317th January 2022 • GreenBook Podcast • GreenBook
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In this week's episode, GreenBook's host, Lenny Murphy, is joined by Noel Lamb, former Head of Research Operations at Robinhood to explore the Wild, Wild West of ResearchOps,  including the democratization of research, its strategic function, how to get organizational buy-in, the future of ResearchOps, and more...

Links From The Show:

  • GreenBook --> https://greenbook.captivate.fm/podcast
  • Lenny Murphy --> https://greenbook.captivate.fm/lenny
  • Noel Lamb --> https://greenbook.captivate.fm/noel-lamb
  • Robinhood --> https://greenbook.captivate.fm/robinhood
  • Salesforce --> https://greenbook.captivate.fm/salesforce
  • T-Mobile --> https://greenbook.captivate.fm/t-mobile
  • Gen2 Advisors --> https://greenbook.captivate.fm/gen2
  • Re+Ops Community --> https://greenbook.captivate.fm/reops
  • Kate Towsey --> https://greenbook.captivate.fm/kate-towsey
  • Scaling Research Podcast --> https://greenbook.captivate.fm/scaling-research

Many thanks to our guest, Noel. Thanks also to Emily Fullmer, for producing and editing this episode.

Transcripts

Lenny Murphy:

Hello everybody It's Lenny Murphy here of Hello everybody it's

Lenny Murphy:

Lenny Murphy here with the GreenBook podcast Welcome glad that you're here

Lenny Murphy:

Glad that I'm here and particularly glad that our guest is here So Today

Lenny Murphy:

we are chatting with Noel Lamb.

Lenny Murphy:

Noel is a former head of research operations at Robinhood.

Lenny Murphy:

Noel.

Lenny Murphy:

Welcome.

Noel Lamb:

Thank you.

Noel Lamb:

Glad to be here.

Lenny Murphy:

Glad to have you.

Lenny Murphy:

Now Noel, your focus and experience is on research operations.

Lenny Murphy:

Why don't you define research operations for our audience?

Noel Lamb:

Sure thing.

Noel Lamb:

Yeah.

Noel Lamb:

So research ops in my experience is a function that really

Noel Lamb:

operationalizes activities of research.

Noel Lamb:

So it might exist as a defined team, or you might even find it in.

Noel Lamb:

Groups of smaller researchers, who are doing ops related activities

Noel Lamb:

as part of their research process.

Noel Lamb:

But however it manifests research ops is there to help teams streamline

Noel Lamb:

processes and provide infrastructure and program support so that research

Noel Lamb:

teams can complete their initiatives.

Noel Lamb:

I'll also add here too, that it's not just about delivering

Noel Lamb:

solutions or programs or products.

Noel Lamb:

Or infrastructure.

Noel Lamb:

I think research operations can really help to shape the culture

Noel Lamb:

of a research team so that it's a productive, but also fulfilling

Noel Lamb:

place for people to do research.

Lenny Murphy:

Okay.

Lenny Murphy:

And when we're talking about this, we're thinking primarily

Lenny Murphy:

around the client side, right?

Lenny Murphy:

There's a more operationally focused kind of voice of the customer internal order

Lenny Murphy:

takers, internal research organizations.

Lenny Murphy:

And then there's more of the consultative components, et cetera, et cetera.

Lenny Murphy:

And thinking about.

Lenny Murphy:

The optimal model where research operations fits within

Lenny Murphy:

a client side organization.

Noel Lamb:

Yeah.

Noel Lamb:

So I've worked in teams where ops existed in the research.

Noel Lamb:

In a research and design ops org, and even most recently in a product strategy, or

Noel Lamb:

that was really decoupled from research.

Noel Lamb:

And I think there are pros and cons to each scenario that are

Noel Lamb:

so specific to each organization.

Noel Lamb:

And I could probably spend all day talking about it, but I won't.

Noel Lamb:

But I think to answer your question specifically, like when research

Noel Lamb:

ops is closely tied to research and.

Noel Lamb:

They are wherever they exist in the organization.

Noel Lamb:

They're seen as a partner to research and they are part of research from

Noel Lamb:

an organizational perspective.

Noel Lamb:

I think that's where you start to see the most success because research

Noel Lamb:

ops, while they are a bit distinct from research, those groups still

Noel Lamb:

need to align to the research.

Noel Lamb:

And the best way that I've found for that to happen is to

Noel Lamb:

be really close to research.

Noel Lamb:

So whether that means reporting up into the same organizational

Noel Lamb:

structure or head of research, or even just adjacent, as long as that

Noel Lamb:

partnership and that alignment is there.

Noel Lamb:

That's where you really start to see positive impact and great value of recent.

Lenny Murphy:

Okay.

Lenny Murphy:

So it seems like over the last few years, we've seen a trend

Lenny Murphy:

of democratization of research.

Lenny Murphy:

more decentralization of the research function.

Lenny Murphy:

Where marketing has has a research capability the brand and product

Lenny Murphy:

guys to have our own research capability, the, obviously the CX

Lenny Murphy:

folks have their own research papers.

Lenny Murphy:

When we think about this idea of research ops as a centralized asset

Lenny Murphy:

or resource across them how does that work effectively when there's something

Lenny Murphy:

that looks a whole lot more like fragmentation occurring across what we

Lenny Murphy:

would always consider to be research functions within many brand organization.

Noel Lamb:

I think this is a really interesting question.

Noel Lamb:

And one that is, I think it's becoming more common for research leaders wherever

Noel Lamb:

they sit in the organization, because it's a really difficult thing to navigate.

Noel Lamb:

There are parts of research that research ops supports and if they're decentralized,

Noel Lamb:

then everybody's doing things differently.

Noel Lamb:

They're not in accordance, some teams maybe doing things that

Noel Lamb:

are not in accordance with like privacy and data governance laws.

Noel Lamb:

And I think there's risk if you don't have a centralized place.

Noel Lamb:

And maybe that is your research ops team where procedures and policies

Noel Lamb:

and best practices are generated and shared for me, it's a risk game and

Noel Lamb:

that's a question for leadership.

Noel Lamb:

How much risk are they?

Noel Lamb:

Are they willing to accept in the organization?

Noel Lamb:

We've heard recently in the news there's been some congressional

Noel Lamb:

hearings with Facebook.

Noel Lamb:

And I don't know all the inner workings.

Noel Lamb:

I've never worked at that company.

Noel Lamb:

And I think it's so full of people with good intentions.

Noel Lamb:

But unfortunately this is a scenario like how risky it can be for a company

Noel Lamb:

if you don't have the right levers and pulleys and procedures in place.

Noel Lamb:

And I think the power of a research operations team can be

Noel Lamb:

to help tie that thread, between all those fragmented group,

Lenny Murphy:

So that's interesting.

Lenny Murphy:

I would say that traditionally the market research industry is or

Lenny Murphy:

even market research is a function started as a as a liability shield.

Lenny Murphy:

It was to decrease risk inherently.

Lenny Murphy:

And I would say that is still, maybe not talked about as often,

Lenny Murphy:

but it is still one of the cool.

Lenny Murphy:

Drivers of performing research is to decrease risk.

Lenny Murphy:

So in this in this scenario where.

Lenny Murphy:

Yeah.

Lenny Murphy:

You've given a lot of cool tools to a lot of people who may not.

Lenny Murphy:

It's like putting a gun in hand with child.

Lenny Murphy:

They may not know that you're kind of dangerous being able

Lenny Murphy:

to do some of these things.

Lenny Murphy:

And the examples of, Facebook and others as well, but not practicing

Lenny Murphy:

standards, not being fully aware of what standards of legalities, et cetera,

Lenny Murphy:

et cetera, that they that they face.

Lenny Murphy:

Through this evolution of the function, we don't want to limit speed of insight.

Lenny Murphy:

Obviously, right.

Lenny Murphy:

I think COVID has proven that over the past few years, the research function

Lenny Murphy:

grew overall the research industry has grown particularly here in the U S

Lenny Murphy:

because of the need to get insights fast.

Lenny Murphy:

We, we needed to know what was going on so quickly.

Lenny Murphy:

And research is a function, proved its value in doing that.

Lenny Murphy:

We don't want to limit it, but yeah.

Lenny Murphy:

We also, we better put some parameters around this to make sure that we

Lenny Murphy:

don't get a little too crazy and start creating risk in creating liability

Lenny Murphy:

versus limiting it, which is one of the core elements of the function.

Lenny Murphy:

What do you think?

Noel Lamb:

Absolutely.

Noel Lamb:

Research operations is invested in the success of a research function,

Noel Lamb:

but not in the day to day insights that research team and research

Noel Lamb:

leaders should be focusing on.

Noel Lamb:

But it's almost this unbiased little pocket of people who are really

Noel Lamb:

invested in success of research, but the success of the customer.

Noel Lamb:

And not a customer is that people are testing with.

Noel Lamb:

End also the company.

Noel Lamb:

And so they play this really critical joint for lack of a better word

Noel Lamb:

where they're looking out for the best interests of the key players

Noel Lamb:

in research and the company.

Noel Lamb:

And I think that is a really important evolution.

Noel Lamb:

And one that I think when you have a successful research ops team with the

Noel Lamb:

right support and the right research leadership, or whoever's really

Noel Lamb:

advocating for research ops and in an organization, they recognize that

Noel Lamb:

and they see that the value can even extend well beyond a research team.

Noel Lamb:

And I think that when you're talking about where research ops is going, that's

Noel Lamb:

a really important part to recognize.

Lenny Murphy:

On the other side of our business, gen two consulting , we

Lenny Murphy:

have a lot of brands who come to us and say, look, we have been doing

Lenny Murphy:

things the same way for 20 years.

Lenny Murphy:

We know there's better ways to do this and we need help in figuring out.

Lenny Murphy:

What those better ways are and who we should partner with.

Lenny Murphy:

And then suppliers that we're supporting and helping to do better stuff.

Lenny Murphy:

But one of the issues we hear also from the brands is, procure.

Lenny Murphy:

Is a limiting factor in our ability to experiment and onboard.

Lenny Murphy:

And the researchers themselves are so busy that they don't have the time

Lenny Murphy:

to learn something new and therefore default to, their existing suppliers

Lenny Murphy:

simply because it's just easier to execute the project with them.

Lenny Murphy:

So in that type of dynamic, I imagine research operations can play a

Lenny Murphy:

critical role in bridging the gap or bridging the divide between

Lenny Murphy:

consistency and best practices, but also innovation and exploring the new

Lenny Murphy:

is that a good way to think about it?

Lenny Murphy:

That there's, that, that innovation role within research ops as well?

Noel Lamb:

I think so.

Noel Lamb:

We really, when you have a research ops team, it is not something that is likely

Noel Lamb:

to help you overnight, but it is something that will get you to where you want to

Noel Lamb:

be even a year down the road, three years down the road, this very conversation

Noel Lamb:

came up on my last day at my past company

Noel Lamb:

you're the research leader is looking three months ahead, Noel.

Noel Lamb:

You're looking two years ahead.

Noel Lamb:

It was a head scratcher for a moment like, huh?

Noel Lamb:

Maybe I was not aligned to the research leader in the way the

Noel Lamb:

research leader needed me to be, but I also, I took it as a great.

Noel Lamb:

Compliment, because that's what my role really was.

Noel Lamb:

I was looking and helping my team develop things that would advance the research

Noel Lamb:

team beyond their current capabilities.

Noel Lamb:

There are short wins and low-hanging fruit that a research ops team cannot

Noel Lamb:

ignore, but that's the goal really in and as a research ops leader and my son.

Noel Lamb:

It becomes particularly important for me to think about how to map for the future.

Noel Lamb:

And I think that's where we're starting to see an increase in research operations.

Noel Lamb:

Leadership roles is because they're starting to realize there's a lot more

Noel Lamb:

that we could be doing, but it takes time and it takes thought, and it takes

Noel Lamb:

diligence and all of those things.

Noel Lamb:

You can't have a research leader or even research practitioners do it all.

Noel Lamb:

It's physically impossible to create really insightful insights and deliver

Noel Lamb:

those back to the organization at the same time that you're implementing

Noel Lamb:

a tool that will sometimes take a year, between contract negotiations

Noel Lamb:

and your security checkpoints, and.

Noel Lamb:

Onboarding the tool and distributing licenses and all

Noel Lamb:

the things associated with that.

Noel Lamb:

It can happen a lot faster if you have a dedicated team.

Lenny Murphy:

I'm wondering when you hear the word operations, right?

Lenny Murphy:

You think tactical?

Lenny Murphy:

Yeah, that is, but what you're describing to me is far more strategic.

Lenny Murphy:

And.

Lenny Murphy:

I wonder if we actually even have a terminology issue here.

Lenny Murphy:

We've just been discussing that it is fundamentally important that there'll

Lenny Murphy:

be guard rails across the organization.

Lenny Murphy:

So we don't get in trouble while supporting innovation and in creativity

Lenny Murphy:

and being responsive to the needs of the business at the speed of

Lenny Murphy:

business, whatever that may be.

Lenny Murphy:

And part of the role of research operations is to fulfill that function.

Lenny Murphy:

But to your point, as you brought up thinking two years

Lenny Murphy:

out, that, that is a strategic.

Lenny Murphy:

Component that is not a tactical and an operational piece.

Lenny Murphy:

So have you ever thought about, is there a different way to think about this to

Lenny Murphy:

maybe get greater buy-in organizationally to say, look, we're not the, we're

Lenny Murphy:

not the people that are just trying to keep you from doing cool stuff.

Lenny Murphy:

We're the people trying to empower you to do cool stuff, but in a different way.

Noel Lamb:

Yeah.

Noel Lamb:

There's there are challenges with each part of this because what

Noel Lamb:

you're really talking about is an evolution and elevating research

Noel Lamb:

as a practice and how it gets done.

Noel Lamb:

And I think we're just now starting to see this and depending on where

Noel Lamb:

your organization is and their level of maturity, you may have

Noel Lamb:

one researcher who's doing it all.

Noel Lamb:

But in two years, you may have five to 10 researchers who are doing it all.

Noel Lamb:

And maybe that's a good time to start introducing research operations.

Noel Lamb:

And I, what I have seen is this very natural progression, which was

Noel Lamb:

probably not going to surprise anybody, listening to this, where you start

Noel Lamb:

small, you build, you prove your value.

Noel Lamb:

You keep building and keep proving your value.

Noel Lamb:

And you get to a point where you can start to think strategically, but you do.

Noel Lamb:

It is really critical to build a strong foundation first, which is these

Noel Lamb:

guard rails and these policies and procedures and programs that help amplify

Noel Lamb:

research and elevate research in your organization, but also do it compliantly.

Noel Lamb:

And it is, I think when we think about research ops and how it's growing this.

Noel Lamb:

How we're seeing it grow with introduction of leadership and people who are

Noel Lamb:

dedicated to thinking about that.

Noel Lamb:

It is difficult.

Noel Lamb:

It's not impossible, but it is difficult to be really tactical and

Noel Lamb:

do your due recruiting, participant recruiting and all of those tactical

Noel Lamb:

pieces and also be strategic.

Noel Lamb:

It is difficult.

Noel Lamb:

And I think that's why we're starting to see companies who are now starting

Noel Lamb:

to introduce more leadership.

Lenny Murphy:

I can certainly see this buyers would think this idea of compliance

Lenny Murphy:

and keep it in between the rails.

Lenny Murphy:

This is this, the suppliers.

Lenny Murphy:

Not us, that's where they depend on their suppliers to do for them,

Lenny Murphy:

that the buyer, this the client side comes as here's our business issue.

Lenny Murphy:

You go forth and answer it and just make sure that you don't get

Lenny Murphy:

us in trouble in how that happens.

Lenny Murphy:

So almost an outsource function of research operations.

Lenny Murphy:

Is that you, do you think that there's still a significant.

Lenny Murphy:

Trade or challenge that exists in client organizations to not pay attention to

Lenny Murphy:

this the way they should, because they just don't think of it as their problem.

Noel Lamb:

I think in client organizations, those problems exist

Noel Lamb:

in, it's similar ways and there are scenarios where it makes sense to

Noel Lamb:

outsource research that is happening because maybe it's a little too

Noel Lamb:

prickly or a little too sensitive.

Noel Lamb:

For a client organization to really dig into right.

Noel Lamb:

For various reasons, maybe the participants themselves, like you

Noel Lamb:

need to collect such incredible sensitive information on them and

Noel Lamb:

you really can't do it anonymously.

Noel Lamb:

And maybe that's a reason why they will need to outsource it to a company that

Noel Lamb:

can But the burden of knowledge is still really great within a client organization,

Noel Lamb:

whether they're outsourcing it or not.

Noel Lamb:

I think you can't get away from it fully.

Noel Lamb:

And I know we're speaking really broadly here.

Noel Lamb:

Sure.

Noel Lamb:

But it's, as a research function you're receiving data that has been processed

Noel Lamb:

and in even inferred about individuals, even if it's anonymous, even if you're

Noel Lamb:

collecting details at a large scale, you still have a responsibility to those

Noel Lamb:

people who have provided you that data.

Noel Lamb:

And I think it is a little irresponsible to think about it

Noel Lamb:

being someone else's problem.

Noel Lamb:

If you hold the key.

Lenny Murphy:

Well And certainly from a data privacy standpoint, for

Lenny Murphy:

like a GDPR, for instance, there's no, and everybody in the chain is

Lenny Murphy:

responsible equally responsible.

Lenny Murphy:

So yeah, there's no, no free passes in liability from that perspective.

Lenny Murphy:

And I think we'll see more and more of that evolve in in the U S and

Lenny Murphy:

other places just on that front.

Lenny Murphy:

We certainly saw in California.

Lenny Murphy:

And I think in New York similar similar legislation that says, Hey, if you touch

Lenny Murphy:

the data at all in any way, shape or form, you have equal responsibility in this.

Lenny Murphy:

So that makes good sense.

Lenny Murphy:

And it

Noel Lamb:

is really important to CCPA is coming up with an amendment here pretty

Noel Lamb:

soon in the next, I think it's dropping in 2023, but it has a look back for a year.

Noel Lamb:

And so if research teams aren't talking to their privacy or legal teams about

Noel Lamb:

what this means and what the impact is on research, even if it's received

Noel Lamb:

from a vendor because those amendments will still impact the agreements

Noel Lamb:

that you have with your suppliers.

Noel Lamb:

So I think it's important to be aware and to do your due

Noel Lamb:

diligence all across the board.

Noel Lamb:

And this is what.

Noel Lamb:

This gets pretty complicated and it is really helpful to have a team who has the

Noel Lamb:

history and the knowledge and the close partnerships with those internal partners.

Lenny Murphy:

All right.

Lenny Murphy:

So let's switch gears for a minute.

Lenny Murphy:

How did you get into this specific focus know, tell us a little more

Lenny Murphy:

about your background and your journey that made you get to this point of

Lenny Murphy:

going, Hey, it's really important to have this capability and this

Lenny Murphy:

structure and driving the awareness of why this function is important.

Noel Lamb:

Sure thing.

Noel Lamb:

So I've been in this space for a little over a decade now, right?

Noel Lamb:

I learned about research.

Noel Lamb:

When I was at T-Mobile, I worked in recruiting, so HR recruiting and I

Noel Lamb:

helped to hire a VP of innovation.

Noel Lamb:

And basically that meant research and design.

Noel Lamb:

He recruited me to become his executive assistant.

Noel Lamb:

I lasted about six months in that role before I realized, okay.

Noel Lamb:

I want a little bit of a different flavor for my work.

Noel Lamb:

And I moved into a project coordinator role and became really close to research

Noel Lamb:

and even conducted research myself.

Noel Lamb:

And I loved the space.

Noel Lamb:

I loved this space.

Noel Lamb:

I was really drawn to the customer stories and research itself, but

Noel Lamb:

it was very exhausting for me.

Noel Lamb:

And I realized that.

Noel Lamb:

Couldn't be a good researcher.

Noel Lamb:

Like I loved the proximity to research and working with customers and I

Noel Lamb:

fell in love with the process of research, but I also knew myself.

Noel Lamb:

I'm a very detailed list kind of person.

Noel Lamb:

And thankfully the role sort of emerged where I was able to help

Noel Lamb:

support research in a project coordinated coordinator capacity.

Noel Lamb:

From there, I hopped over to a project management role at a small

Noel Lamb:

e-learning company out of Seattle.

Noel Lamb:

And after that I was recruited to work at Salesforce where I spent nine years

Noel Lamb:

in research operations and really was it was an incredible experience.

Noel Lamb:

I love the company.

Noel Lamb:

I still love the company.

Noel Lamb:

But you know, nine years in one tech company is a really long time, but

Noel Lamb:

I stayed that long one because I have, and I still have great respect

Noel Lamb:

for the CEO, mark Benioff and the people who I worked with, I loved

Noel Lamb:

the level of the company was doing.

Noel Lamb:

And, enterprise software is not an extremely sexy place, but.

Noel Lamb:

I just I found myself there and I came in again as a coordinator and

Noel Lamb:

by the time I left, I was a senior manager leading the research ops team.

Noel Lamb:

There was something really special in that, that I was able to see the life

Noel Lamb:

of research and research ops really evolve over a long period of time.

Noel Lamb:

And.

Noel Lamb:

I wouldn't trade that experience for anything because I learned so much.

Noel Lamb:

I learned so so much.

Noel Lamb:

And so that's really how I found myself in it.

Noel Lamb:

It was aligned for many years to the design organization and by

Noel Lamb:

the time I left, the research had moved into a product strategy team.

Noel Lamb:

And I didn't last long after that.

Noel Lamb:

I think I was only there for about six months after that, but I knew

Noel Lamb:

enough about my time there that I wanted to go and replicate it

Noel Lamb:

somewhere else and help provide what I learned to another organization.

Noel Lamb:

And I still feel that same way.

Noel Lamb:

I think, the idea of moving on from research ops, especially now, like after

Noel Lamb:

it's gotten steam in the industry, I would not be fulfilled like this is that for me.

Noel Lamb:

I love research ops.

Noel Lamb:

I live in breathe.

Noel Lamb:

It I'm in it every day.

Noel Lamb:

And now for me my goal is really to help nurture it occurs

Noel Lamb:

of others in this industry

Lenny Murphy:

that is.

Lenny Murphy:

That's very cool.

Lenny Murphy:

And I, I suspected like many of us, you just fell into this.

Lenny Murphy:

I didn't do right.

Lenny Murphy:

Was very few people who go into research specifically.

Lenny Murphy:

So let's talk about this idea of supporting people in the future.

Lenny Murphy:

And being mentoring.

Lenny Murphy:

Because obviously there is an immense amount of experience and knowledge

Lenny Murphy:

and IP that that we need to pass on.

Lenny Murphy:

So if you think about either for yourself or organizationally in your next home.

Lenny Murphy:

How do you build that model to take what's in your head and in

Lenny Murphy:

what's in your background and and share that with others from a from

Lenny Murphy:

a knowledge sharing perspective, what does that mechanism look like?

Lenny Murphy:

What does that process look like to get this out there and raise the

Lenny Murphy:

profile and experience for everybody?

Noel Lamb:

There's no one way to go about it.

Noel Lamb:

I'd love to say I can write everything down into a playbook or a deck

Noel Lamb:

and share that, but that would be a memoir and a book, an artifact

Noel Lamb:

that someone could easily consume.

Noel Lamb:

The way that I've approached it really is through the company and what the

Noel Lamb:

company needs and helping to reflect that in my team and bring on people

Noel Lamb:

who can help support the company.

Noel Lamb:

And teaching them what I've learned along the way is really how I've approached it.

Noel Lamb:

And no two companies are the same.

Noel Lamb:

Every company looks a little different.

Noel Lamb:

There might there's different flavors of research ops, no matter where you go.

Noel Lamb:

When I first joined Robin hood participant recruitment, which is a cornerstone of

Noel Lamb:

a good research ops team didn't exist.

Noel Lamb:

It wasn't something we were doing.

Noel Lamb:

And by the time I left, we had just started to scratch the surface

Noel Lamb:

on what that would look like to support, research that way.

Noel Lamb:

And I think the way I've approached it, because I have a great experience

Noel Lamb:

coming from Salesforce and being able to build that out in a new

Noel Lamb:

owner organization, I approach.

Noel Lamb:

A little carefully, because it can be really complex in nature.

Noel Lamb:

And when it was time to hire for program management and this role actually hired

Noel Lamb:

somebody with a PhD in research and she was probably one of the best hires

Noel Lamb:

of my career because she came with the knowledge of research and what it means.

Noel Lamb:

To do research without having her to do a bunch of shadowing or partnering

Noel Lamb:

with researchers to figure it out.

Noel Lamb:

Like she already came to us with that.

Noel Lamb:

But it was able to help give her guidance on maybe the approach could be like this

Noel Lamb:

or maybe have you thought about this and was able to help guide her, but without

Noel Lamb:

being overly prescriptive about it.

Noel Lamb:

And that's something that I myself have learned in my own leadership journey.

Noel Lamb:

Is how to help people get there and grow, but without

Noel Lamb:

telling them exactly what to do.

Noel Lamb:

And I think that's a really important part of helping someone shape their career.

Lenny Murphy:

All right.

Lenny Murphy:

So that brings up an interesting question on what is the we won't say

Lenny Murphy:

ideal, but maybe the typical approach.

Lenny Murphy:

Personality traits, experience that is relevant and appropriate

Lenny Murphy:

for a focus on research ops.

Noel Lamb:

I think it really depends on the makeup of the team, the size

Noel Lamb:

of the team, what kind of priorities this person or these people are.

Noel Lamb:

To be working on I have worked in small teams that had generalists.

Noel Lamb:

Do you know, people who were doing a little bit of everything, recruitment,

Noel Lamb:

supplier relationships, training and development, team events, that sort

Noel Lamb:

of thing they were doing at all.

Noel Lamb:

And then I've also worked for teams.

Noel Lamb:

I've also developed teams that shifted from that model.

Noel Lamb:

To a more specialist role.

Noel Lamb:

And I think there is a time and a place where that makes sense.

Noel Lamb:

There's been this ratio that's been shared, one research ops

Noel Lamb:

practitioner to every five researchers.

Noel Lamb:

And that is one way you can approach, supporting a research team.

Noel Lamb:

It's a great starting point, but it doesn't take into account.

Noel Lamb:

The nuances of recruitment throughput, or even how difficult you are participants

Noel Lamb:

are to get, or if there are horizontal programs that are taking priority over

Noel Lamb:

recruitment, there's a lot of nuance.

Noel Lamb:

And so there's no real one size fits all.

Noel Lamb:

But at a certain point it can very well make sense to shift

Noel Lamb:

to a team of specialists.

Noel Lamb:

These are people who might be your dedicated participant recruiters

Noel Lamb:

were really embedded in the day to day of research facilitation.

Noel Lamb:

And then I mentioned horizontal program managers.

Noel Lamb:

Those are the people who might have very specific duties that support

Noel Lamb:

the entire research function, like research technology, or team care and

Noel Lamb:

development, or even research visibility.

Noel Lamb:

And so I really.

Noel Lamb:

There is no one ideal.

Noel Lamb:

But there is an ideal for each organization that

Noel Lamb:

they'll have to sort out.

Lenny Murphy:

Okay.

Lenny Murphy:

Are there any Critical resources that you think are helpful for

Lenny Murphy:

anybody that's focusing on this content websites Greenbook anything

Lenny Murphy:

that you would say, Hey, you've gotta, you've gotta check this out.

Lenny Murphy:

If you want to understand this would be successful in this role.

Noel Lamb:

There's a research ops community.

Noel Lamb:

I don't have a URL in front of me, but there is a.

Noel Lamb:

Community of research ops professionals have banded together and have created

Noel Lamb:

a really great resource it's available.

Noel Lamb:

If you just Google research ops community.

Lenny Murphy:

I'm a member of the slack channel.

Noel Lamb:

Great.

Noel Lamb:

So that's a good one.

Noel Lamb:

Yeah, there's this for anybody in it already.

Noel Lamb:

There's a subset of people who are doing research ops full time.

Noel Lamb:

There's about 150 people.

Noel Lamb:

Kate Tasy is the moderator of that group.

Noel Lamb:

It includes research ops practitioners all around the world.

Noel Lamb:

And we meet once a month to discuss learnings or challenges

Noel Lamb:

or really hot topics specific to ops They are my tribe of people.

Noel Lamb:

So they share jobs and ideas.

Noel Lamb:

They ask questions, how does this thing exist at your company?

Noel Lamb:

And so that's a really great resource.

Noel Lamb:

So if you are already in this and you are doing this a hundred percent

Noel Lamb:

of your time reach out to Kate tells you to get involved in that.

Lenny Murphy:

Okay.

Lenny Murphy:

What else?

Lenny Murphy:

Any publications is there any thought of forming some type of sub organization

Lenny Murphy:

maybe part of, one of the trade orgs or something of that nature?

Noel Lamb:

Yeah, there's a podcast that Royal Pata leads.

Noel Lamb:

He leads research at Zapier.

Noel Lamb:

His research ops podcast is on Spotify and perhaps other places,

Noel Lamb:

but that's how I listened to it.

Noel Lamb:

It's called scaling research.

Noel Lamb:

He has a really amazing perspective coming from life as a researcher, shifting

Noel Lamb:

into research ops and building that out.

Noel Lamb:

And now he's leading the entire research organization.

Noel Lamb:

So aside from that great perspective, he also has this

Noel Lamb:

really incredible radio voice.

Lenny Murphy:

Okay, better than mine.

Lenny Murphy:

I'll come on.

Lenny Murphy:

That's great.

Lenny Murphy:

I wasn't aware of that.

Lenny Murphy:

I am a member of that slack group and it is so incredibly active and prolific.

Lenny Murphy:

I can't.

Lenny Murphy:

All right.

Lenny Murphy:

I joined it.

Lenny Murphy:

I, pop in there every once in a while, but boy, there's just so

Lenny Murphy:

much happening, which is very cool.

Noel Lamb:

Yeah.

Noel Lamb:

And for those of you who like to read can you tell us, you use, literally,

Noel Lamb:

she's writing a book about research ops and I don't know what her publication

Noel Lamb:

date is, but it's coming soon.

Noel Lamb:

I know she's been heads down for quite a while many months.

Noel Lamb:

So look forward to that.

Lenny Murphy:

Okay.

Lenny Murphy:

All right.

Lenny Murphy:

So I want to be cautious of a of time, and there's a few more

Lenny Murphy:

topics that I wanted to touch on.

Lenny Murphy:

So now let's put on our prognosticators hats and think through all of the

Lenny Murphy:

changes that are happening to.

Lenny Murphy:

To the insights industry.

Lenny Murphy:

And I would categorize those primarily driven by technology that creates

Lenny Murphy:

efficiencies and that the collection and dissemination of insights as

Lenny Murphy:

well as the breadth, that the types of insights that are available.

Lenny Murphy:

And then.

Lenny Murphy:

A very long tail of dynamic changes to consumers, to culture, to buying

Lenny Murphy:

habits, to, behaviors across the board.

Lenny Murphy:

Where do you see the role of research operations helping to

Lenny Murphy:

shape and form how the insights function adapts to these changes?

Noel Lamb:

I think we'll see some really interesting roles

Noel Lamb:

emerge in the research ops space.

Noel Lamb:

I suspect that we'll continue to see the growth of leadership roles, but

Noel Lamb:

also the addition of new roles like digital librarians or insights experts.

Noel Lamb:

When I think about a high functioning research team, researchers are

Noel Lamb:

responsible to their set of stakeholders.

Noel Lamb:

But aside from a research leader, I'm not sure who else is really

Noel Lamb:

responsible for curating a collection of insights and telling an overall story.

Noel Lamb:

And I think either with a nod to the platforms that are evolving

Noel Lamb:

day by day to help do this, sometimes it can be too much.

Noel Lamb:

And so you might need someone to help cure.

Noel Lamb:

And whether that's a digital librarian or maybe even an editor or even

Noel Lamb:

could take the shape of an analyst.

Noel Lamb:

Like I think that is a really interesting thing that we might

Noel Lamb:

expect to see in the future.

Lenny Murphy:

So you think that means as part of that, then the utilization of

Lenny Murphy:

what we would currently call knowledge management platforms that are the central

Lenny Murphy:

repository Of research information and content, but also as a central

Lenny Murphy:

repository of organizational knowledge and best practices is that you think that

Noel Lamb:

I think that's fair.

Noel Lamb:

And I, I love repositories.

Noel Lamb:

I think they are great, but there is a duty that people have to make

Noel Lamb:

sure that it's not just a place.

Noel Lamb:

It's not a graveyard, where insights go to.

Noel Lamb:

And some of that is institutional knowledge, but it requires someone really

Noel Lamb:

thoughtful to pull together and breathe life into those insights over time and

Noel Lamb:

make sure that we're, you're not doing research on a theme that was researched

Noel Lamb:

two years ago and you're building upon the insights that you have that doesn't

Noel Lamb:

happen through a tool itself that takes at least at this point in time.

Noel Lamb:

On what's available in the market today.

Noel Lamb:

I think that takes a little bit more thought and I'm curious.

Lenny Murphy:

Yeah, it's definitely not a dump.

Lenny Murphy:

It's not like my hard drive.

Lenny Murphy:

So I know I got that file from 20 years ago, somewhere in here.

Noel Lamb:

Yes.

Noel Lamb:

Also my picture reel my albums on my Iphone, or like,

Noel Lamb:

where is that one picture?

Lenny Murphy:

Absolutely.

Lenny Murphy:

Yeah.

Lenny Murphy:

Yeah.

Lenny Murphy:

I think that almost library and function is critical because we waste so much

Lenny Murphy:

Time and energy and money from a research perspective, duplicating things that

Lenny Murphy:

we've already done over and over again.

Lenny Murphy:

That's a chronic challenge.

Lenny Murphy:

Yeah.

Noel Lamb:

Yeah.

Noel Lamb:

Either it will take the shape of somebody or the shape of somebodies,

Noel Lamb:

like really good researchers will have to start using the tools at

Noel Lamb:

their disposal to make sure that.

Noel Lamb:

The research they're doing is a bit more efficient.

Noel Lamb:

And, that's a hard thing to do when you're staring down stakeholder deadlines.

Noel Lamb:

And it's a hard thing to be mindful of, but I do think it's going to become a

Noel Lamb:

bit more critical in this revolution of digital that we're means deepen.

Lenny Murphy:

Absolutely.

Lenny Murphy:

And uncovering more.

Lenny Murphy:

More insights actually, right before we got on was chatting with a client

Lenny Murphy:

who a supplier and doing some work to understand what their strategy looks like.

Lenny Murphy:

And one of the piece of feedback from their customers was what we

Lenny Murphy:

want you to be more, do more meta analysis and be more consultative.

Lenny Murphy:

And the.

Lenny Murphy:

Yeah.

Lenny Murphy:

And that's a challenge, not just for a supplier, but also internally for the

Lenny Murphy:

organization, because it requires, well, we need access to the information, right?

Lenny Murphy:

We need these things in one place to be able to do that.

Lenny Murphy:

And it is a labor intensive process, but to your point of the technology is

Lenny Murphy:

certainly emerging where that'll make that easier and hopefully become table-stakes.

Lenny Murphy:

So got a last couple of questions.

Lenny Murphy:

What have you've been reading or engaged in lately?

Lenny Murphy:

Not even just about research operations, but anything, what's really, cranking

Lenny Murphy:

your gears lately , from a content or thought leadership perspective.

Noel Lamb:

So I have two littles and they demand a lot of my free time,

Noel Lamb:

so I'm not prioritizing reading.

Noel Lamb:

Like I wish I could.

Noel Lamb:

But in the cracks of my day, I'm reading a book called the impact survival guide.

Noel Lamb:

It is giving me some really helpful tactics for prioritizing my needs and

Noel Lamb:

whole person health so that when I do start to feel overwhelmed or exhausted,

Noel Lamb:

or, you know, just flat out drained, it doesn't progress to like a total.

Noel Lamb:

For an out episode.

Noel Lamb:

So I'm just into it now.

Noel Lamb:

So far, it's been good.

Noel Lamb:

It's been really helpful.

Noel Lamb:

And I think it's an easy thing to do, especially for anybody in this day and

Noel Lamb:

age is to make that time to be more reflective and sort out what you need

Noel Lamb:

to survive in, in this wild world.

Noel Lamb:

We live in.

Lenny Murphy:

Yeah, I used to do.

Lenny Murphy:

May time every day for meditation and, and some function of prayer, some

Lenny Murphy:

spiritual time got away from that for many, many, many, many, many, many years.

Lenny Murphy:

I'll tell you around fall of 2020, suddenly that, that became important

Lenny Murphy:

again, I need time to get centered and, Balanced out or else I'm

Lenny Murphy:

going to go nuts with all of the demands of, and chaos and et cetera.

Lenny Murphy:

I have five kids.

Lenny Murphy:

So I know what that is like across the board.

Lenny Murphy:

I applaud you for finding that, making that a priority now, because yeah.

Lenny Murphy:

It's important.

Noel Lamb:

It is important.

Noel Lamb:

Yeah.

Noel Lamb:

And I, I think the conversations have started opening up right.

Noel Lamb:

Remote work is starting to take a a front seat, whereas before it wasn't and maybe

Noel Lamb:

you had commute time, did you compress before heading into personal life after

Noel Lamb:

work, but now, whew, man, you step out of the office and you're immediately

Noel Lamb:

bombarded with what's for dinner.

Noel Lamb:

Did you go to the bathroom?

Noel Lamb:

Okay.

Noel Lamb:

What time is bedtime?

Noel Lamb:

Like the daily demands are still there, but I think being kind to

Noel Lamb:

yourself as the best thing you can do.

Lenny Murphy:

That, what have you found to be one of the most important

Lenny Murphy:

things to do to be kind to yourself?

Noel Lamb:

I am a person where if I'm coming out of a day of meetings, you

Noel Lamb:

know, 14 different meetings some days which is probably not too dissimilar from

Noel Lamb:

people who are listening on the phone.

Noel Lamb:

I have found that I really, really need the transit.

Noel Lamb:

And even if it's just sitting in the room, quiet room, maybe dark room

Noel Lamb:

for five minutes is really helpful.

Noel Lamb:

So that I'm in the right Headspace for people who I love, because if I don't

Noel Lamb:

allow myself that time and that space to come down, I am not a very nice

Noel Lamb:

person and I'm irritable and not a person who I would want to be around.

Noel Lamb:

So it's really, really important to get that separation from.

Noel Lamb:

And so it's something that I actively have pulled in to my life.

Noel Lamb:

And so far people seem appreciative.

Lenny Murphy:

Good advice.

Lenny Murphy:

Good advice.

Lenny Murphy:

The I have, similarly, I've worked from home for almost 20 years, so that this has

Lenny Murphy:

been something that was not new for me.

Lenny Murphy:

we decided to homeschool this year, which was a whole other level of craziness.

Lenny Murphy:

Yeah.

Lenny Murphy:

I our listeners are not seeing the look.

Lenny Murphy:

I know L's face she's.

Lenny Murphy:

She looks a gassed, so that's one word for it.

Lenny Murphy:

Insane is another, but.

Lenny Murphy:

No.

Lenny Murphy:

Well, this has been a delight and I hope that you'll come back and join us again.

Lenny Murphy:

You've also threw out some great suggestions for inadvertently

Lenny Murphy:

of other folks that we may reach out to to be guests.

Lenny Murphy:

Is there anyone else that you would say, wow, Lenny, you really need to

Lenny Murphy:

ask so-and-so to come on and chat with that you think would be a great.

Noel Lamb:

Roy Kate.

Noel Lamb:

And another point I might recommend is Lisa Meckler.

Noel Lamb:

So she leads up the research ops team at Airbnb.

Noel Lamb:

She's really fantastic.

Noel Lamb:

And I think she'd have a lot of great things to share.

Lenny Murphy:

Okay.

Lenny Murphy:

All right.

Lenny Murphy:

Duly noted.

Lenny Murphy:

So what's next for you?

Noel Lamb:

So, I'm going to go to acupuncture.

Noel Lamb:

I'm going to go pick up the kids from, from school, from preschool.

Noel Lamb:

But you're talking about work.

Noel Lamb:

So I have a couple of glorious weeks out before I start my next adventure.

Noel Lamb:

I'm heading over to zero.

Noel Lamb:

They are a New Zealand based company.

Noel Lamb:

They do small business accounting software and I'll be leading up

Noel Lamb:

the research ops team over there.

Lenny Murphy:

Very very cool.

Lenny Murphy:

And where can our listeners reach you if you want them to?

Noel Lamb:

Please.

Noel Lamb:

I love talking about research ops.

Noel Lamb:

You can find me on LinkedIn.

Noel Lamb:

LinkedIn is the best place Noel.

Lenny Murphy:

That's great.

Lenny Murphy:

Well, well, thank you.

Lenny Murphy:

This is great.

Lenny Murphy:

Go do your acupuncture and enjoy the weekend with your kids.

Lenny Murphy:

Thank you.

Lenny Murphy:

Thank you to our listeners.

Lenny Murphy:

Thank you to our producers.

Lenny Murphy:

Emily and Joseph and we'll be back again with another edition of the podcast.

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