In August, we held our first Lean Research event at MIT’s D-Lab, with fifty people in attendance, spanning a diversity of fields and disciplines. Representatives from organizations such as MasterCard Foundation, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Grameen Foundation, Save the Children, World Bank, and USAID and many others offered ideas that helped the Lean Research Steering Team refine the core principles of Rigor, Respect, Relevance and Right-Sizing. Participants were able to cite specific examples of each principle and elaborate on basic themes that affect both academic research as well as research in development contexts. Insights from this event have helped shape the Lean Research Working Paper, Principles, Framework, and Guiding Questions.
Following this events, Alex Counts of the Grameen Foundation shared some reflections in a blog post titled “The Start of a Movement for Lean Research?“. Kim Wilson of The Fletcher School shared her own reflections on reimagining the study of financial inclusion through Lean Research.
In April 2015, sixty students, researchers and practitioners gathered at Tufts University for a Lean Lab. Dr. Scott Brewer, Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, kicked off the event with a reflection on What is Evidence?” A series of practical sessions and simulations followed Dr. Brewer’s talk. Each examined the research experience of the human subject in contexts of extreme vulnerability. Participants segmented each step along the research journey – from initial contact with the subject to a final report – and identified possible pain points for the research participant and ways to mitigate them. Lean Lab has helped the steering team brainstorm ideas for a Field Guide with specific examples from practitioners.
Following Lean Lab, a participant referenced the Lean Research approach in an article called Making Evidence Practical for Development, published in the Stanford Social Innovation Review.