The Backstory, and an explanation…

My entire 20+ year career is about research. For nearly a decade, I wrote a popular column for Competitive Intelligence (“CI”) Magazine and traveled the globe to give countless conference presentations. That all took place while running Clew LLC, a “CI” firm.

My audiences included researchers and business leaders of all stripes. Topics were always about “finding stuff out,” with emphasis on “researching people.” That means understanding who does what in this world, who they do it for, and how all those people, places, and things relate to one another.

Well, that last sentence kind of oversimplifies what my presentations really covered.

They were much more granular, from in-depth person profiling to modeling and mapping networks of people and organizations, alongside dozens of other topics. All material came from a lifetime of consulting experiences, including real projects for my clients.

The conference speaking invitations became incredibly diverse, and tied to multiple professions that obsess over “finding stuff out.” That includes conferences for fields like HR and recruiting, sales and business development, competitive intelligence, market research, information management, library science, journalism, and so on.

Day-to-day consulting led me to identify one key strategy that produces the best project work: target human sources.

That might feel like the exact opposite of online or electronic research, though those are still critical. For context, here’s a look at what a “researcher” typically does:

Looking back, the most effective approach feels obvious:

  • Figure out exactly who the best human sources are for a project, and
  • By doing so, create the least circuitous path to whatever we want to know.

Creating TheG2 anchors to my insatiable desire to understand how other people “like me” find stuff out. I mean, in a literal way, if your work is about “finding stuff out,” what else might you be doing for a living? For what kind of organization? And what’s different about what you do, and why does it work in that context?  And how do you get the work done? What are your methods and tools?

That line of inquiry took me all over the place, searching for overlaps between distinct fields. These areas include the obvious ones like market research, sales, and journalism. But probing extended to clinical psychology, theater and performance, propaganda, politics and public persuasion, magicians and psychics, law enforcement and interrogation, and elsewhere.

It might sound crazy, but there are so many consistent themes with all of those fields and how they approach research. We explore those overlaps many times throughout TheG2.

Finding, understanding, and communicating with “human sources” was one big subject of interest. Another was understanding how these sources fit into some larger picture. That last part touches lots of organizational research, market research, and mapping of people, places, and things.

Another big part was about evaluating the reliability and credibility of what we find out during our research. And yet another large component was about who does the research work, and how projects get done.

The phrase that makes the most sense for all this work felt like “human capital research.” That means that it’s a lot of research that anchors to human capital, or in plain language, “the people” who do or know what we want to know.

TheG2 fills a massive void around this topic of “human capital research.” There is nothing out there that goes as far and deep into the details of how this work gets done. During years of writing, the information always felt relevant – and nothing ever seemed dated.

Why? Because TheG2 is a framework for getting research work done at the execution level. It is not internet research training.  The material focuses on getting information about, around, from and through human beings.

We refer to these human beings as “sources.” To get to the mechanics of that kind of activity requires a structure and approach that examines:

  • What human capital research is all about and what certain terms mean;
  • Who does this research, and how they are hired and managed;
  • How we make a research plan and organize it;
  • How we understand people, places, and things, and map their networks;
  • How we get ready to talk to real people to find things out; and
  • Specific methods and tactics to get information from other people.

It’s training, and so it includes many additional definitions, editorials, examples, and other substance. The result is material that improves not only how you find information, but also how you figure out how to find it.

If that doesn’t make sense now, it will when you’re at the end.

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