In 1943, a Jewish-Hungarian mathematician called Abraham Wald told the US Military how to do their jobs properly. The Generals tasked with reducing the number of planes being lost to enemy fire were trying to decide which parts of the aircraft should be reinforced. The weight of armour plating meant that it couldn’t be applied everywhere, so they started analysing where planes were taking the most damage.

Images like the above seemed to show a consistent pattern, so they recommended that these areas should be reinforced — until Wald pointed out that they’d made an error. The aircraft being analysed…

The closed door of an elevator against a grey wall
The closed door of an elevator against a grey wall
“Tell me what you’ve done for the company lately”

“What do you actually do?”

‍In 2019, Uber laid off nearly half of its global research team. Elsa Ho — a part of the research team at the time — has written an excellent account of the lessons which can be learned from this. Many of these lessons touch upon a single, fundamental question: what exactly is research for?

It’s disputed whether Steve Jobs ever actually fired people who couldn’t answer the question “what have you done for Apple lately”, but it’s a useful reference point. …

“The medium is the message.” — Marshall McLuhan

At almost every company I’ve worked at one question always pops up sooner or later: How do we make sure our research reaches the right audience?

Sometimes this is a product owner asking how they can get a point through to their boss. At others it’s a research manager who wants to influence multiple work streams with the same insights. Most recently it came up when we were looking for the right product to host our “Single Source of Truth” (spoiler alert: we didn’t find one so we built our own).


How to build a self-aware company

“What should we do now?”

Luke Kelly

Founder of, the UX Research Repository which lets you build a custom repository on top of our platform.

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