When you need to cover a lot of ground fast, divvying up research can be helpful. Here's the quick and dirty, agile research process we've used for several projects this Factory Week:
Whatever your topic, it's good to refine what type of research is most important. Do you need stories, testimonials, images, or data? A mix of things? Is it important if your research is recent? From specific types of sources? Looking things up on the internet can be a major time sinkhole. Providing some parameters can help.
As you crowdsource finding resources, you may wish to provide your project team with a specific goal around number or categories of research, so that you don't end up with many more sources than you can reasonably investigate.
Create a sharing space, like a Google document or Basecamp thread, where people can link to resources they've found. Two of our project teams with highly visual components used Pinterest boards to share ideas.
Once you have a refined list of sources, divvy it up. A few people reading 3 or 4 sources can be much more manageable than putting all research on one person's shoulders. Another benefit—everyone enters the conversation or collaboration to follow with some level of knowledge about the topic at hand.
It can be very helpful to ask each person to create summaries about what they read. For our project focused on improving our feedback process, we asked for a short summary, any takeaways or insights that would be specifically helpful for our team, and what challenges we might face if implemented. The framework let each of us know exactly what we were seeking. We have another project focused on data-gathering, and the parameters are different.
Knowledge sharing is an important part of the process. You might go with a simple 'report and discuss' method. We added a step of having people write down ideas that resonated with them on sticky notes as they listened to one another report back. This method is helpful for a few reasons. It makes it easy to sort ideas later, it promotes active listening and it helps you see which ideas resonated the most (key themes will get repeat sticky notes from multiple people).
The divide and conquer route is pretty critical for the speed of Factory Week. Any quick research tips you can share with us?