The Study of One

In the last decade or so, in business, consulting, and life, I've used a tool that I fondly and often refer to as the study of one.

The concept is quite simple, find a problem that you're trying to solve and see if you can find one subject whom you know and understand, who might've encountered this in their everyday life. Did it work for them? If not, could it work for other people like them? And vice versa if it did.

My favorite subject is myself. But, it's often my friends and peers. I always get consent. Mind you, I'll never undertake a study of one if conducting the study harms someone (other than myself) mentally, physically, financially, etc.

What are some ways I've used this technique you ask or how could you:

  1. To see if an email marketing message works on decision-makers: find some you know, ask them to check their email, and see if they received something like it and if it worked for them.
  2. Keeping on the email thread, a few years ago, I was trying to come up with a strategy for increasing deal sizes. At some point, I noticed that most external sales emails that I eventually responded to were threaded. In that, I had received one or more follow-ups or responses before I answered. Threaded emails remain my foundational email strategy to get responses.
  3. Almost all of my writing is a study of one on myself.

Have you used something similar? If it intrigues you, how would you use it?

My best guess is that I R&D'd it from