For Learners, I answered the question, How can I get my research on the radar of the CEO and other top level people at my company?
Me talking about evangelizing research to senior leadership (screenshot only—click here to watch!)
User research helps everyone make informed decisions, including your CEO and executive leadership team. And the instinct to evangelize research to a senior—and influential—audience is a good one.
But interrogate that instinct and ask yourself: are you being ambitious for the benefit of your organization, or are you being ambitious for yourself? There’s a thoughtful and strategic path toward getting research—and yourself—on your executive leadership team’s radar, and there’s a treacherous path that will lead to confusion, bad vibes, and hurt feelings.
Let’s start with the treacherous path. You might be tempted to approach your CEO directly—either in person or over email or Slack—and share some insights that you think are fascinating and worth pursuing.
Your CEO will either ignore you, send a message to your manager and ask WTF is going on, or call a meeting and ask a bunch of VPs why they’re not right on top of the shiny object you just put in front of your CEO.
Ignoring you is actually the best outcome here, because if your manager gets a message from the CEO—or the CEO’s chief of staff—everyone will wonder why you went rogue and didn’t follow any chain of command. You’ll make your manager look not great.
And if your CEO starts asking everyone in their vicinity about your pet insight, your manager will be the least of your concerns. You’ll have a bunch of executives whose roadmaps and sprint plans are now being jeopardized because you just had to get on the CEO’s radar.
So let’s instead take the happy path and assume your ambition is for your team—that your intention is to evangelize the great work you and your peers are doing to a more senior audience.
One way to do this is to share recent impactful findings at a regularly scheduled meeting. A company all-hands might fit the bill, or an executive leadership meeting. If a presentation isn’t what you had in mind, maybe there’s a regular research update your executive team would appreciate. I’d suggest working with your manager and your CEO’s chief of staff on what this research update might look like, how detailed it should be, and in what format executives would prefer to receive it.
Something my teams have done in the past is send a monthly newsletter for senior leadership with updates on what we learned about our competitors and what impact that might have on our org.
You have the right idea if you’re asking how to get your research into the hands of senior decision makers. But take the time to do so collaboratively and thoughtfully in a way that your CEO, executive team, and manager will value.