The 3 pillars of world class research

After 200+ conversations with leading strategy and innovation teams across FAANG and Fortune 500 companies, one thing is clear:

there’s no one size fits all approach to best-in-class research. 

But there ARE core ingredients in the recipe for success, no matter the company, category, team size, or any other factor.

Whether you consider these in the context of an organization’s broader operating rhythm or your own team’s workflows, they make sense. There are:

  • non-negotiable fundamentals which keep you relevant, 

  • always-on insights which keep you sharp, and

  • interim requests, ideas, and explorations which need to be addressed.

Let’s break each of these down.

First, Fundamentals are the core research efforts every organization executes, whether annually, quarterly, or specific to a new initiative or innovation. 

They’re guiding lights for important decisions as much as they are aligning forces; proceeding without these in hand is either a calculated risk, or a reckless oversight.

  • Examples include: competitive landscaping and profiling, audience insights, and general market research (including SWOT, PESTLE, and other key dynamics analyses)

Next, Incidentals are the inevitable questions that arise in our day-to-days from meetings, executives, or curious minds.

They’re the lifeblood of innovation – but are often the first to go when deadlines or resources are tight, the investment or effort involved in getting an answer is tough, or when efficient output is prioritized over productive inquiry.

  • Examples include: deep dive on a new competitor, download on new regulations or legislation, a quick rundown of a new development, or a key player profile / case study 

And finally, Recurring research is what keeps you at the bleeding edge – an always-on stopgap between bigger projects and ad hoc explorations.

Here, curation, relevance, and actionability matter, though we often settle for generic, lengthy, and unactionable … or worse, skip this pillar altogether, and find ourselves on our back foot.

  • Examples include: competitor activity monitoring, macro news roundups, investment / funding memos, or thought leadership summaries / distillations

In a world where corporate America is exhausted by the effort required to get what you need from Google's search engine and frustrated by the rushed irrelevance of LLMs' answer engines…

Where asking questions has become an inconvenience, whether because they complicate the beeline from A to B or the time it takes to answer them…

And where there’s no shortage of information, data, and research but an extreme shortage of relevance, insight, and actionability… 

Winning strategy and innovation organizations are still managing to execute across all 3 pillars through a smart combination of the right platforms / tools, processes / workflows, and people.

Where are you strongest, and where could your team benefit from leveling up? Reply and let me know!


P.S. Whether you’re looking to set up a recurring roundup of relevant insights, empower your team to ask more questions more often (and get better answers quicker), or execute on the fundamentals more efficiently, Wonder can help.

To learn more about our solutions or see a demo of our platform,
grab time with our CEO here.