The balance of art and science necessary to be a successful market researcher depends a great deal on your creativity. It’s what turns interesting information into a strategy-changing insight, but sometimes we can lose sight of the importance of fostering an open and creative environment. I was reminded of the importance of this issue as I read a psychology blog that outlined 6 practices sure to squelch creativity in your organization. I was struck by how many of the general issues mentioned in the blog (listed below) can rear their ugly heads in researcher’s day-to-day work:
6 Ways to Kill Creativity:
- Mismatch roles
- Ration resources
- Restrict freedom
- Reduce group diversity
- Provide no encouragement
- Provide no support
This list doesn’t have too much to disagree with, and some of these issues can seem pretty daunting. But luckily there are a number of Research-specific solutions you can put into play:
Encourage Calculated Risks-it seems to me that the last 4 creativity killers have all to do with the environment that your team creates and fosters, and we have the data to show that departments that foster open, creative cultures have more impactful insights. You need to create an environment where researchers take risks, push for creativity, and encourage peers to do the same. Companies like Diageo do this by changing their teams’ focus from risk-aversion to judgment-based (asserting judgments backed by information and experience rather than just sharing what the data proves).
Specialize Roles-we all know that different people are good at different things, so why don’t we focus on these specialties more? I’ve said it before: Research teams provide more compelling guidance when team members play to their strengths. We’ve seen BT carve out specialized roles for those interested in client consultation and Motorola create a dedicated synthesis role. The point is, don’t try to be a team of bionic researchers. Focus on the areas that you are best at and are most interested in.
Provide Resources and Time-and, as usual, resourcing comes into play. But for creativity we aren’t simply talking about budget. Sometimes it seems that the scarcest resource is time. But time is a key ingredient to creative insights, and to make this time you need to build it into your research process. Unilever does this by breaking its insight generation into two separate days: forcing a separation between observation and conclusions allows the team to break through its own conventional wisdom and assumptions.
What have I missed? How do manage creativity in your day-to-day jobs? Tell us about it in the comments section below!