Conducting Primary Generative Research

Primary generative research involves conducting original research activities to deeply understand user needs, behaviours, and motivations. This type of research is exploratory in nature trying to uncover new insights rather than validate existing ones.


The purpose is to understand deeply the needs, behaviours, motivations, and challenges of users to identify opportunities for innovation and improvement in product development.

  • Informed Product Strategy: Guides the strategic direction with user-centered insights.
  • Enhanced User Experience: Identifies unmet needs leading to improved user satisfaction.
  • Reduced Risk of Failure: Lowers the risk of developing features that do not resonate with users.


Industry Context

Often generative research is skipped because of the belief that we know our customers and their needs. However, it is impossible to know for certain whether customers want what we are building before they have it in their hands. New features require customers to change their behaviour, and behaviour is very hard to predict. This is why 90% of features fail to deliver the expected value.

ZeroBlockers Context

In ZeroBlockers, Stream Teams own the end-to-end development of their products. Since they are accountable for outcomes they need to ensure that the features they build are wanted by customers. This means that they need to do the upfront discovery to understand their customers' needs and behaviours.

ZeroBlockers Practices

Interviewing UsersGain deep insights through one-on-one conversations with users or stakeholders.Provides detailed feedback and understanding of user needs.Minimum weekly


There are many ways of collecting data about users and their needs but the most effective way to understand users is to talk to them. You can dig into their motivations, behaviours, and pain points to truly understand the problems they face and why they behave in the ways they do. It also helps to build empathy in the team and to understand the context in which the users are using the product.

Ethnographic field studies arguably provide better insights than interviews since people don't really understand their motivations very well however they are harder to organise and conduct. Since we want Stream Teams to be conducting continuous discovery we have chosen to list interviews as the primary practice.

Having said that it is always advisable to complement interviews with some of the other practices listed below. These are all incredibly valuable research methods that together can provide a comprehensive understanding of user needs and behaviours.

Other ZeroBlockers Practices

PracticeDescriptionBenefitsConsiderationsBest Suited For
Performing Ethnographic Field StudiesObserving users in their natural environment to understand their daily activities, challenges, and contexts.Provides deep contextual insights; uncovers implicit needs.Time-consuming; requires skilled researchers.When in-depth understanding of user context is critical.
Running SurveysCollect quantitative and qualitative data from a large audience quickly.Can reach a wide audience at low cost; easy to analyse.May not provide deep insights; response bias can affect results.Gathering broad feedback on user satisfaction, product features, or market needs.
Organising Diary StudiesParticipants record their activities, thoughts, and feelings over a period of time.Captures real-time user experiences and behaviours.Relies on participant commitment; potential for self-reporting bias.Longitudinal studies where understanding changes over time is important.
Card Sorting SessionsUnderstand how users categorise information to improve navigation and information architecture.Reveals user mental models, efficient and quick, qualitative data.Limited to specific information architecture challenges, small sample size.
  • Identifying user categorisation patterns Improving navigation and structure.


  • Assuming Instead of Asking: Making decisions based on assumptions rather than research.
  • Overlooking Negative Feedback: Ignoring criticism that could lead to crucial improvements.
  • Confirmation Bias: Seeking out information that confirms pre-existing beliefs or hypotheses.
  • Research Paralysis: Spending too much time on research and delaying action.

Case Studies

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