You know that thing your gut tells you is definitely true? Well, what if it isn’t?

Our gut is often wrong: either because we don’t have enough data to reach an informed decision or because our cognitive biases skew our analysis.

That’s why businesses need high-quality researchers to collect the right data and analyse it correctly.

Enter research expert Matt Howley, the 22nd person I’ve met on my journey to have lunch with 500 strangers.

Matt is smart, warm and lights up when he’s discussing research. I’m a numbers guy, so I was keen to learn how his company, Picnic Customer Intelligence, works with big brands to improve their sales.

As I discovered, research is not entirely about the numbers – because skilful data analysis is meaningless if you’ve collected the wrong data. That’s why good research starts with asking the right questions.

Matt gave a fascinating example of a drinks company that tested a new bottle design. Focus groups preferred the new design, so the company switched. Yet sales fell. Why? Because now that the bottle looked different, customers couldn’t find it.

Research finding: 100% of my meetings with Matt have been fun.