Ep. 414 – The Role of Design Thinking in Qualitative Research – Jonathan Grove, Director Of Product Design at Nation Wide

My guest today is Jonathan Grove, Director Of Product Design at Nationwide.

In preparation for this interview, I found Nationwide’s start very interesting. 

In the 1920s, farmers were paying the same rates on their automobile insurance as city drivers even though they had fewer accidents and claims than city drivers. The Ohio Farm Bureau decided to set up their own insurance company to offer rates that accurately reflected the driving habits of farmers.[5] On April 10, 1926, the Farm Bureau Mutual Automobile Insurance Company obtained license to do business in Ohio, and two days later, it acquired its financing—a $10,000 loan drawn from their membership.

Today, Nationwide has over 35,000 employees and is ranked #73 in the Fortune 500 list. 

Prior to joining Nationwide, Jonathan has served as a leader in several brands you’d recognize including McGraw-Hill as their Director of Design Research. 

This interview is being done in conjunction with the Qual360 Conference. Qual360 will take place virtually on their dedicated conference platform! Join the most dedicated community of qualitative market researchers and connect with client-side researchers, innovative agencies, independent moderators and disruptive technology providers.

Qual360 North America 2021:

Website: https://na.qual360.com/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/merlien-institute 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Merlien 

Find Jonathan Online:

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jonathangrove/ 

Website: https://www.nationwide.com/ 

Find Jamin Online:

Email: jamin@happymr.com 

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/jaminbrazil

Twitter: www.twitter.com/jaminbrazil 

Find Us Online: 

Twitter: www.twitter.com/happymrxp 

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/company/happymarketresearch 

Facebook: www.facebook.com/happymrxp 

Website: www.happymr.com 

Music: 

“Clap Along” by Auditionauti: https://audionautix.com 

Epidemic Sound: https://www.epidemicsound.com/ 

This Episode is Sponsored by:

This episode is brought to you by Momentive. You may have heard that SurveyMonkey’s parent company recently rebranded as Momentive, a leader in agile insights and experience management. The Momentive AI-powered insights platform is built for the pace of modern business so you can deeply understand your market, elevate your brand, and build winning products faster. 

Momentive offers 22 purpose-built market research solutions that incorporate an AI engine, built-in expertise, sophisticated methodologies, and an integrated global panel of over 144M people to deliver meaningful insights in hours, not months. Momentive also has a team of market research consultants that can take on anything from research design to custom reporting as needed, so you can spend more time shaping what’s next for your organization.
To learn more, visit momentive.ai


[00:00:00]

Jamin Brazil: Hi, I’m Jamin host of the Happy Market Research podcast. This interview is being done in conjunction with the Qual360 conference. Qual360 will take place virtually on their dedicated conference platform. Join the most dedicated community of qualitative market researchers and connect with client side researchers, innovative agencies, independent moderators, and disruptive technology providers. For more information, please visit na. qual360.com that’s na. qual360.com. My guest today is Jonathan Grove, director of product design at Nationwide. In preparation for this interview, I found Nationwide start very interesting and I’d like to take just a minute and share it with you. In the 1920s, farmers were paying the same rates on their automotive insurance as city drivers, even though they had fewer accidents and their claims were much lower than city drivers. The Ohio Farm Bureau decided to set up their own insurance company to offer rates that accurately reflected their drivers’ habits. On April 10th, 1926, the Farm Bureau Mutual Automotive insurance company obtained licensed to do business in Ohio and two days later, it acquired its financing, a $10,000 loan drawn from their membership. Today, Nationwide has over 35,000 employees and is ranked 73 in the fortune 500 list. Prior to joining Nationwide, Jonathan has served as a leader in several brands you’d recognize including McGraw Hill as a director of design research. Jonathan, welcome to the Happy Market Research podcast today.

[00:01:40]

Jonathan Grove: Thank you for having me.

[00:01:46]

Jamin Brazil:

This episode is brought to you by Momentive. You may have heard that SurveyMonkey’s parent company recently rebranded as Momentive, a leader in agile insights and experience management. The Momentive AI-powered insights platform is built for the pace of modern business so you can deeply understand your market, elevate your brand, and build winning products faster. Momentive offers 22 purpose-built market research solutions that incorporate an AI engine, built-in expertise, sophisticated methodologies, and an integrated global panel of over 144M people to deliver meaningful insights in hours, not months. Momentive also has a team of market research consultants that can take on anything from research design to custom reporting as needed, so you can spend more time shaping what’s next for your organization. To learn more, visit momentive.ai. Let’s talk about your talk. What is the topic that you’ll be covering? Give us the sneak peek into what you’ll be sharing with qualitative market researchers.

[00:02:55]

Jonathan Grove: Thank you. So in view over the last few years, I’ve kind of found myself at the intersection between qualitative research design and innovation, and it’s not always been a comfortable place to be. And the purpose of my talk really is to share some of my learnings as I’ve attempted to navigate things like design thinking and the role of design thinking in qualitative research. As I have tried to navigate through these, sometimes competing and not necessarily well connected domains, I’ve had some failures and some successes, and really my intention is to share some of those stories to help those folks who are maybe about to go through the same thing or are going through a similar thing right now.

[00:03:41]

Jamin Brazil: Are you seeing research becoming more integral, meaning that maybe democratized across the organization?

[00:03:51]

Jonathan Grove: Yeah, I think there’s a design thinking part of the culture really is around democratization. I think there’s two kinds of sciences I’m thinking, one is the cultural and one is the practice. I think that design thinkers don’t always necessarily separate those two things very effectively. And some when it comes to research, particularly qualitative research, I think there are some things that are quite difficult to reconcile. For example, design thinking tends to prioritize shallowness in general; it’s focused on forward momentum. There are lots of ideas around iteration and learning through failure. When it comes to research, the kind of approaches that they advocate for are really very inductive kind of grounded theory, which is very hard to do quickly and very hard for novices to do independently. So you got almost like a two competing forces or two forces that do not integrate very effectively. Grounded theory, qualitative methods on the one hand being executed potentially by novices who are also expected to do things very quickly. These three things in my experience can lead to some tension and conflict that is difficult to resolve. So this is very much what I’ve been through over the last few years and Nationwide has invested very heavily in design thinking type methods over the last five years or so. And there are certain patterns that have emerged and I’ve shared some of them here. So I’m going to talk a bit more about that experience and about some of the things we may need to do as researchers to evolve with this new way of approaching things, which is design thinking.

[00:05:28]

Jamin Brazil: That sounds super interesting and relevant for quite literally all of us, wherever we sit inside of the organizations that we serve. Let’s shift gears a little bit and pull back at a macro level. What are some trends that you’re seeing in the market research space that will carry us through to 2022?

[00:05:45]

Jonathan Grove: It’s been a really interesting year for research. When I think back to March of last year where we were running a combination of remote activities and in context, in-person and lab based activities. We have a brand new research center at Nationwide. We had to really kind of switch our approach in a matter of weeks and move exclusively to remote research, which quite a surprise to everybody and took a- it took quite a bit of time to respond effectively to the new landscape. But I think without those remote tools, we may have had an awful lot of unemployed researcher who were no longer in a position to sit in the same room as the people they were interested in learning about. So clearly it feels as though 2020 and 2021 have very much been the year of remote research. I think we’ve probably crossed the threshold now that we won’t be going back from. I suspect that remote research will probably be the primary way in which we all, we do our work from this point onwards. I think that combined with developments in artificial intelligence and the ability of these kinds of software tools to pass significant amount of qualitative data, these two things potentially coming together, I think is going to be a fascinating, potentially fascinating development. I think with regards to AI, it may mean that researchers need to rethink their role in some respects, since we may in some regards become partners to certain types of artificial intelligence and potentially chaperones of those kinds of tools as they grind through qualitative data on our behalf. So I think we’re at a kind of pivotal point in terms of remote research and artificial intelligence that is likely to redefine the role of research over the coming years.

[00:07:41]

Jamin Brazil: Qualitative at scale, you think about like a survey is really just a conversation at scale. And the reason that we started doing them is we wanted to talk to 100 people and we just couldn’t facilitate that. It just wasn’t feasible. Now AI is punching through and actually allowing us to analyze volumes of data that otherwise would have gone absent.

[00:08:02]

Jonathan Grove: Absolutely. And we’re seeing as well, the ability- the cycles have shortened. So the idea that we’d be able to execute certain types of studies in three weeks would have been five years ago, unheard off.

[00:08:19]

Jamin Brazil: Totally.

[00:08:20]

Jonathan Grove: So we’re increasingly in a position where we can get feedback from our research participants at a cadence that was previously impossible. Now that’s great if you’re trying to run design thinking iterations, but what we’ve got to try and do is evolve our methods in such a way that they can keep up with the pace of the technology and the cultural expectations of design thinking. So I think it feels as though- and I spent the last 25 years in research, it feels as though I’ve spent much of my time trying to either persuade people of the value of research and try and educate them. And I’ve barely completed that part of my work and now I’m having to move on to something else. So it’s a fascinating, ever changing, ever evolving space.

[00:09:04]

Jamin Brazil: Last question. What is your personal motto?

[00:09:07]

Jonathan Grove: Don’t sit still. That’s my personal motto is don’t sit still because I think that if the world keeps on moving. So if you kind of sit around expecting it to stay where it is, I think you’re going to be caught out quite badly. So that’s my motto. Don’t sit still.

[00:09:25]

Jamin Brazil: My guest today has been Jonathan Grove, director of product design at Nationwide. Thank you, Jonathan, for joining me on the Happy Market Research podcast.

[00:09:33]

Jonathan Grove: Thank you.

[00:09:34]

Jamin Brazil: Everyone else, I genuinely hope you’ll take time out of your day make sure that you sign up for this event. It will be one you will want to attend. It’ll add a lot of value to what you’re doing at very little cost. Have a great rest of your day.