Understand what is going on with research.
The design is the designer's assumptions. Every step along the way is a guessing game. The assumptions are based on the designer's intuition. The intuition comes from two places: the shared societal knowledge we collect when growing up, and research.
The struggles of design stories are the conflicts between what designers think people need and what people actually need. To better align with the people we are designing for, I like to use a combination of qualitative and quantitative research - a mixture of hard facts and natural understanding of people to better evaluate the design challenge. The research outcome can be system maps, how might we opportunity statements, a detailed user profile, a competitive landscape - whatever it takes to deepen understanding of the challenge.