Hercule Poirot is the only fictional character to have received a NY Times Obituary.
The Belgian detective was known best for relentlessly gathering information, often under the pretence of naivety, until finally revealing his incisive theory to a captive audience.
This feels like good User Research.
He spends time amongst the community (Participant Observation), watches them from the background (Fly-on-the-Wall Observation), he accompanies them as they go about their daily lives (Shadowing) and of course, he questions them (User Interviews).
“the significance he assigns to specific facts in his stories is often very different from the significance attributed to them by his witnesses in their stories.”
Once again, this really does feel like User Research.
He listens to what people say they do, balances that evidence with what he observes them do and ties it all together with a smattering of reasoning.
As he investigates, Poirot comes up with theories which he brings with him in the field to be tested. Rao continues:
“His own theories in turn, take the form of evolving stories, which he continually tests for both psychological and empirical plausibility”.
He iteratively tests his stories, refining them until he arrives at a story that satisfies the evidence and points to the underlying motives of the mystery.
Poirot stories are really stories about stories.
And so it is with User Research.