Finding relevant experts

Our work is reliant on the expertise of people who understand specific problems, their broader context, the limitations of existing solutions, and the opportunities for emerging ones.

That is why when we talk about engaging with experts and testing materials with them, we refer to experts in a very broad sense.

Who can be an expert and what kind of knowledge do they bring?

We think of experts as belonging to two categories: experts with a wide-view of a domain, and experts with a deep knowledge of an area.

Speaking with experts with a wide-view of a domain is useful because it helps develop a systemic understanding of an area, and prioritise the problems worth focusing on.

On the other hand, experts with a deep knowledge of an area are incredibly useful in refining the problem in need for a solution, as well as understanding the barriers preventing progress and potential solutions that may emerge.

Across both of these categories, we look for a mix of experts including academics, researchers, entrepreneurs, representatives from the corporate sector, as well as people affected by the problem or NGOs representing affected communities.

How do we find relevant experts?

Given the time and effort that goes into arranging and conducting an interview, on both the interviewee and interviewer side, it is important that the experts identified have relevant knowledge and experience in the topic researched. Here’s how we find these experts:

  • Authors of representative papers or reports on the subject: platforms like ResearchGate and can be valuable sources for identifying academics and researchers actively engaged in their communities, as well as assess their influence in the academic area (see also Identifying credible sources for research).
  • Speakers at relevant conferences: conferences often bring together specialists from different fields in order to develop a more comprehensive understanding of a topic; this diversity of speakers and perspectives could also be valuable for scoping a problem area.
  • Experts mentioned in specialised or popular media: media stories focusing on science and technology innovations often reference/quote relevant researchers or companies working on developing solutions.
  • Online searches for specific startups, industry leaders, NGOs: when it comes to contacting companies directly, it’s important to make sure that you’re reaching out to someone who has a technical role within the company. While emails for company or sales reps are often most accessible, it’s important to speak with someone with a detailed and technical understanding of the problem and of the solution the company is trying to develop.
  • Recommendations from other experts: experts in the field will always be best placed to share contacts of other relevant people to speak with. Getting them to make a recommendation or, even better, an introduction, is a great way to grow a network of credible experts.

Looking for a good problem?

We are a close team of designers and researchers who are passionate about tackling ambitious and important problems. If you’re looking to grow your impact, we’d love to hear from you!