It’s an age-old debate: art versus science. Can they co-exist? Can the gap between the two be bridged without compromising one or the other? Over the years, philosophers, sociologists and many others have proved that the marriage of these two seemingly opposite practices is not only inevitable, but beneficial. Human creativity is not limited to the creation of “traditional” art, but permeates every aspect of our existence, even – believe it or not – market research, a practice that originates in science.

Perhaps the stage in which we can see the most artistry in the market research space is when we examine the human component of our practice. With technology (science) taking a front seat in most discussions, it’s easy to forget what forms the very foundation of our industry: curiosity. The inquisitive spirit of the researcher is what uncovers the stories the data is trying to tell us. Have we lost sight of this in the midst of all the buzz around the latest and greatest tool or solution?

I believe there are some key ways that we can deliberately reclaim the artistic side of market research, while honoring its scientific methods and principles.

  • Remember why you became a market researcher in the first place. I’ve written before about reclaiming your passion in this field. It is easy to get caught up in the weeds, worrying about timelines and goals and deliverables and a wide variety of stakeholder needs. Take a moment every day, or at least once a week, to remind yourself why you entered this field in the first place. In this article, I outline several ways you can rekindle your joy in the workplace, from connecting with other people to embracing what you do on a daily basis.
  • Create emotional touchpoints with the data. Where did our data come from in the first place? It’s easy to forget that all the data we are collecting and processing actually started out as human input and behavior. Yes, there are real humans behind all those numbers. Keep this point in mind as you are processing and analyzing data and be curious about the individuals and groups that provided it in the first place. Dig deeper and feed your inquisitive spirit. It is the speedy and efficient technology we have at our fingertips that allows you the time to do this. Take advantage of this great example of how art and science can work together.
  • Find ways to be creative that complement your expected outputs. Data visualization is a great example of this. Gone are the days of boring spreadsheets and bar graphs, which restricted the level of creativity we were able to infuse into this step of the process. No longer are we constrained by systems that don’t allow customization, or which are extraordinarily incompatible with any kind of creative process. With the right science (technology solution), you can create beautiful art in the reporting and dashboarding stage of your project.

There are many moments in the workflow of a market researcher where the marriage of art and science can powerfully influence the way we do our jobs. Natural creativity and curiosity, coupled with the speed of the latest solutions, gives us opportunities we’ve never seen before in our space. It’s easy to forget to focus on that creative side, when we are caught up in the everyday grind. Reclaiming your artistic side, and the complete story of the data, can be as easy as raising your awareness and taking the time to feed your curiosity during the tasks you are already undertaking during your workday. Art and science in market research? It’s a win-win.