"This report was a timely reminder for me to critically examine my own work. I need to constantly ask myself: can my clients make critical decisions based on my analysis?"
He goes on to talk about the Burton Group research methodology, known as Contextual Research (CR), which his colleague Mike Gotta describes as "people-centric", "non-intrusive" and "ethnographic-like". Apparently this methodology provides a critical base for challenging the orthodoxy - for example on BPM, as in this post. - or for exploring new topics such as social networking, as in this post.
There's not enough detail from these Burton blogs for me to see whether the CR methodology contains a robust feedback loop to answer the question of effectiveness - not only whether clients can make critical decisions based on the analysis, but whether they do make the right decisions. This feedback loop would presumably require longer-term engagement rather than independent study projects, but maybe this is part of Burton governance.
Anyway, it will be interesting to see whether this kind of research approach survives the merger with Gartner.