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Corporate Researchers Conference 2014: A Call for Speakers

Posted on  6 May 14  by 

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Calling All SpeakersWe are looking for speakers for the 2014 CRC, an event presented by the MRA, Quirk’s Marketing Research Review, and CEB.  This year’s event runs from September 17-19 in Chicago, and speaker proposals are due Friday, May 16.  We’re looking for folks who can contribute to the agenda with the three E’s: Education, Energy, and Entertainment:

  • Real Research Impact: have you made a measurable impact on your business with research?
  • Successful Integration: have you made research more accessible to your team for decision-making?
  • Case Studies: do you have a case study that illustrates real world application of technologies or techniques?
  • Unique Best Practices: do you operate with unique best practices that other researchers could apply?
  • Original Content: give us 30 or 60 minutes of your best stuff

If you’re ready to be recognized as an industry leader, we invite you to submit presentation material for the 2014 Corporate Researchers Conference.

In addition, take a look at some of the past content presented at the CRC:

Major League Umps Avoid the Tough Calls

Posted on  30 April 14  by 

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Missed CallsA new study from PhD students at the Stanford Graduate School of Business proves what baseball fans have been decrying for years: Major League umpires’ decision-making is biased when the stakes are highest.  It may seem a “no kidding” fact to die-hard, hard-luck sports fans, but Etan Green and David P. Daniels have finally provided statistical validity for your angry tweets: if a batter has 2 strikes, a close-call pitch that would typically be called a strike 50% of the time is called a strike only 30% of the time.  And umps showed a similar bias against calling balls when the count is already 3 and X.  It seems that even professional decision makers with the clearest of rules and guidelines can get it wrong when the pressure is on.

This finding is pretty bad news for Market Insights professionals too, if you carry the bias over to our world.  How many of our organizations’ high-stakes decisions are actually blown-calls?  Over the years, we’ve addressed a number of issues regarding inaction, on the part of both the MI team and our business partners.

Avoiding Market Insight Inertia:

  • Overcoming MI’s aversion to risk to improve insight quality: We did the quantitative work, and found that one of the best ways to improve the quality of insights from your team is to foster a culture that supports risk taking and creativity.  So, although researchers tend to be the type to look for certainty and facts, the quality of our work goes up substantially when we work to inject judgment and risk-taking into our roles.
  • Building influencing skills on the MI team: Negotiation, persuasion, and courage are an extremely important part of our job, but may not be the first things that come to mind when you’re thinking self-development.  Technical skills, insight, and business problem-solving skills can go a long way to having impact on the organization, but the most effective researchers also use emotional influencing skills such as conflict resolution, versatility, and empathy to maximize their impact on strategic decision makers.
  • Activating disruptive insights: Only 37% of the intended benefits of a disruptive insight are realized.  Executives agree on the importance of insights to grow their business and gain competitive advantage, but Market Insights struggles to change executive thinking when they offer disruptive insights that counter conventional thinking and have potentially large economic implications.  To get your organization to take action on your most game-changing insights, you need to take a more politically savvy posture by navigating around organizational obstacles and allocating discretionary efforts to the insight-ready, not the insight needy business partner.

Overcoming Business Partner Inaction:

  • Correcting business partner over-confidence: Executives who are secure in their customer knowledge mostly rely on that existing knowledge to make customer-facing decisions, being uninterested in any information or insights the MI team contributes.  To overcome their assumptions, you need to engineer learning moments that create insecurity about the validity of what they “know.”  Only after you create these multi-sensory, engaging experiences can you neutralize executives’ existing “gut instinct.”

Related resources:

Game Elements: First in Research, Now in Hiring?

Posted on  30 April 14  by 

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Gamification of ResearchIn an effort to both improve engagement and drive to deeper insight, many researchers are experimenting with gamification—adding game elements to studies and research activities. Gamification can take many forms, from restructuring traditional survey questions to building complex game environments for panelists to compete in.

In our whitepaper on Gamification in Market Research, we outline how you can find success using these techniques, provided the game elements align with and enhance well-defined research needs.  Gamification that doesn’t align with research needs can confuse or distract participants, so before you seek out game elements for your next study, ask yourself your objective for using them:

  • Engagement-using game elements to improve interest and participation levels in a study or activity
  • Context-adding game elements to change the context in which a respondent approaches a study or task.

We have blogged before about the variety of game elements that you could apply, but you have to make sure that your choices will actually enhance your study.  In other words, don’t just gamify for the sake of gamification—go into it with a particular goal in mind. 

It was with this background on the topic that I read with interest a recent article about companies using video games as part of the interview process.  According to the article, Coca-Cola uses the behavioral competencies identified by gamified tests to disqualify candidates, and Royal Dutch Shell used games to decide which business development ideas to fund.

While some companies find value in these game results, other folks contend that candidates and other participants will simply end up doing what all of us do when playing games for fun: figure out how to “game the system” to get the desired results.  What do you think?  Are game elements infiltrating business activities too much, or is this a smart application of cool, engaging techniques?  Let us know what you think in the comments below.

Think You Don’t Know Your Stakeholders? Think Again

Posted on  28 April 14  by 

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Multi-ethnic group portrait“You know more than you think you know” – ever hear that phrase? It really helps build confidence if you’re planning on doing a presentation in front of a group, for example.

We all get at least a little nervous when speaking in front of people, but we just need to trust that we know our presentation front-to-back, left-to-right, and upside down – especially if it’s on a new Insight.

About that presentation….what if you know your material but don’t know the audience very well? It’s a terrifying prospect, but it’s very real in today’s working world.

We just work with too many stakeholders on a daily basis to really know what they think about an idea or Insight…right?

Wrong!

You know more than you think you know. In fact, even if you don’t know a stakeholder that well, you can probably deduce a good deal about him or her right off the bat, using a little magic trick from Fiserv we learned about last year.

What Fiserv’s Insights team did was very simple. They mapped out stakeholders based on two criteria:

  1. Influence: how much influence does the stakeholder have?
  2. Posture: what is the stakeholder’s likely stance on the Insight?

Admittedly, Posture is not always static – a stakeholder’s level of support can shift, if the Insight upends his or her initial strategy, for example.

However, Influence can be seen, felt, and heard from others. It’s also fairly static.

To make things as straightforward as possible, Fiserv has a nifty decision tree to figure out where to map stakeholders. Additionally, the tree contains concrete action steps to take with each type of stakeholder, to increase the likelihood of action by the business.

For example, with Critics and Blockers, spend one-on-one time with them and get their input. One Head of Insight actually told us a story about how getting input from a Critic on a presentation helped to filter out points of stark opposition – and consequently, the Critic became a Supporter of the ideas presented in the process.

Now – this tool can be used for other means besides presentations…any time you meet with stakeholders, you can use the tool to have a head start on knowing who’s really important for a given project and who’s not.

Related Resources

 

5 Questions to Improve your Data Visualization

Posted on  23 April 14  by 

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Effective communication of data is a challenge that has always plagued Market Researchers looking to make data readily available and easily consumable. In an environment where Market Insights sometimes struggles to be heard amongst other organizational voices, it is essential to have deliverables that are highly engaging, informative, and clear.

Although displaying data in a visual format is not new—researchers have seen the value of charts and graphs for decades—the world of “Big Data” has brought a spike in interest, as Researchers seek new ways to find patterns and communicate insight. The most progressive Market Insights functions are embracing data visualization as another tool in their arsenal—a way to make sure that customer knowledge gets embedded in the business.

The Data Visualization Playbook that we put together to help CEB Market Insights members improve and optimize their data presentation is one of the most popular destinations on our web site.  So, when I saw a recent HBR blog by presentation expert Nancy Duarte I knew that the topic would be right on point for our readers.  She compiled 5 questions to help you make the right visualization decision for your data situation:

  1. Context: Presentation or circulation?  Presentations need less detail, more getting to the point.
  2. What kind of chart or table is best?  To answer this, really think about which relationship you are trying to emphasize.  CEB Market Insights members, access sample chart templates to help you choose the right format for every data presentation situation.
  3. Does the visual draw eyes to my message?  Visualization tactics should draw eyes to what you need to highlight.  At CEB we refer to “the teaching point”—what is the one thing that people should take away.  This system applies well to presentation decisions: always think about the single point that folks should get from the visual, and make sure eyes are drawn to that conclusion.
  4. Do the visuals accurately represent the numbers?  Sometimes fancying up your visuals will actually muddy the facts.  Many times simplifying will improve data presentation.
  5. Is this memorable?  Engineering learning moments that can correct executives’ overconfidence and misconception.  Because we’ve blogged about this challenge before: How to Teach a Know-it-All.

Embracing Long-Term Market Changes

Posted on  15 April 14  by 

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Building Future GrowthAre you looking to help your company take action on market changes?  Over the past few weeks, I’ve fielded questions about trend-spotting, forecasting, and scenario planning; it seems that Market Insights functions are coming out of this winter’s polar vortex with a renewed mission to make the most of this year, setting up their organizations for future growth.

One of the easiest ways to get business partners to agree on the importance of long-term market changes is to package together megatrends that are relevant for the business.  We’ve seen great practices from Alticor, who used a network of supplier listening posts to generate tailored market observations, and Levi Strauss, who led customized workshops to help business partners internalize insights gleaned from emerging trends.  (CEB Market Insights members, read all the details on the practices from Alticor and Levi’s, and check out trends from our sister program CEB Iconoculture)

While megatrends are a great way to start the conversation with business partners about long-term market changes, they don’t provide confidence in the timing and impact or context for choosing among potential business responses.  In other words, megatrends provide interesting thought-starters, but they don’t provide all of the information the business needs to confidently take action on market changes. 

To provide the confidence and context that business partners require to take action, progressive Insights functions take an opportunities-based approach:

Are you seeing an increased interest in your organization for forward-looking insights and recommendations?  Please share your experiences in the comments section below.

Related Resources:

5 Email Productivity Killers to Avoid

Posted on  14 April 14  by 

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Email HygieneI heard a lot of different reactions to the news that two labor unions in France (representing around 250,000 employees in technology and consulting) had reached an agreement with corporate representatives to ensure 11 hours of uninterrupted rest time – meaning no work email after you leave the office. Some people started planning their moves to France, while others bemoaned the lost productivity.

Whether you’re the type who protests the intrusion of technology and work into our home lives or the type that falls asleep to the dim glow of a smartphone (my guess is that most of us are both), there’s no denying that reading and responding to emails eats into a huge chunk of the day – an average of 28% of your time at work, or 13 hours a week.

How do you make sure that the time you spend on email is helping, rather than harming, your productivity? Blogger Alison Green recently shared some email productivity killers:

1. Reading every news article someone sends you. You don’t need to read every email that comes in. Instead, be discerning about which messages will be the best use of your time. CEB Market Insights members, once you’re finished prioritizing your inbox, you can find tactics to prioritize your research agenda here.

2. Not deleting anything. It’s a lot easier to find what you need if you don’t need to wade through messages that are no longer (or were never) relevant.

3. Not organizing things by folders. Bring some order to your inbox by organizing by topic or necessary action.  If you’re on an organizational roll (and a CEB Market Insights member), discover how Adobe organizes the content of its knowledge portal around business needs.

4. Checking email every time you have a new message. Instead of being interrupted each time a new message arrives, check your email only at set intervals. 

5. Emailing and then calling or coming by in person to make sure your message was received. If you need an immediate response, you should probably reconsider using email. It’s also important to consider the right medium when choosing how to deliver Market Insights deliverables. CEB Market Insights members, check out our Communication Toolkit  to find the right way to drive insight adoption.

Related Blogs:

“Strangulating” Data

Posted on  8 April 14  by 

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6 Keys to InfluenceWhen synthesizing multiple sources of data for your business partners, instead of “triangulating” the data, doesn’t it feel like “strangulating” instead sometimes?

One Head of Insights told us about “strangulating” data recently. I love this term because it speaks so viscerally and truthfully about a challenge Insights teams face all the time, and it’s not going away anytime soon: leveraging multiple data sources to inform smart business decisions.

In 2012, we found that synthesis of multiple sources boosted decision quality significantly, and investigated ways in which Insights teams can provide effect synthesis for business partners.

We’ve also found across the membership that increased investment in Analytics has challenged Insights teams to collaborate productively and perform data integration to unlock the potential business insight found in synthesizing these sources.

We also know this is a huge opportunity area – we’ve begun to scratch the surface with Analytics and the power its data can provide, such as targeting the right customers.

Now that Multisource Synthesis is becoming a regular activity on Insights teams, we’ve been hearing more and more questions about increasing Multisource Synthesis efficiency. Our major 2014 research is focused on investigating this very question.

If you’re interested in speaking with us about how your team is increasing Multisource Efficiency and Data Integration, feel free to reach out in the comments section below.

Related Resources

Related Blogs

 

 

Going “Viral”: How Emotions Spread Online

Posted on  8 April 14  by 

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Message Going ViralSmithsonian magazine recently featured a study from Beihang University in China about which emotions spread the fastest online.  Researchers tracked emiticons as the posts that they were embedded in spread on Sina Weibo, the Twitter-esque microblogging site in China.  They found that sadness and disgust did not travel very quickly, and although joy faired faster and farther, nothing beats anger when you’re trying to get a message to go viral.

The study found that users are more likely to pass along angry posts not just to “express their anger,” but to instill a sense of outrage with the folks on the platform.  A professor at the Wharton School, Jonah Berger, observed similar findings when studying the sharing habits of New York Times articles.

Berger notes that “high-arousal” emotions drive people to take action.  Sadness makes folks withdrawn, and therefore that emotion is unlikely to go viral.  But anger activates people to share more.  On a more positive note, Berger found that the one emotion that garnered more shares than anger was awe: “the feelings of wonder and excitement that come from encountering great beauty or knowledge.”

CEB Market Insights members, check out our Social Media topic center to learn more about how organizations use social media activity in their decision-making process.  What we know: MI professionals who gain the most from the medium forgo broad monitoring initiatives for a hypothesis-based search process.

Related Blogs:

7 Lessons from an Innovation Thought Leader

This week’s guest post comes from CEB Marketing.  Given our upcoming webinar on New Product Development, we thought we would share.

Improve InnovationIn the course of our recent work on generating radical innovation, we had a great chat with Kevin Bolen, partner at Innosight and author of several works including “Swallowing the Innovator’s Prescription”. Kevin provided seven practical tips for improving innovation.

  1. Get buy-in for radical innovation by defining growth goals and gaps to goal. Predict the likely growth rates from your existing products (including incremental innovations) and identify the gap that needs to be filled by disruptive/ radical innovation.  This should indicate the percentage of budget to invest in core vs. radical innovation – both for the whole company and for each business unit, realizing some will have more opportunity for innovation than others.
  2. Start with a small, dedicated innovation team. Start with 2 or 3 people who work on innovation full time and only add headcount when there is enough demand from the organization to justify it. Inform this group’s work with the experience of a diverse group of employees to 1.) surface assumptions to be tested and 2.) get fresh perspectives on a problem.
  3. Consider your customers’ “jobs-to-be-done”. When conducting one-on-one interviews with customers about potential new products or services, start with broad questions and surface underlying tasks they want to accomplish. Use quantitative studies later to validate these ideas.
  4. Communicate expectations when seeking employee ideas and follow up about action taken on ideas. Without any guidance, you’re likely to end up with lots of unfeasible/ irrelevant ideas that you cannot act on, leading to an overwhelmed innovation team and frustrated employees.  Instead, set guidelines on what you’re looking for. Report back on the action taken to show employees that you listened and to generate momentum for future innovation drives
  5. Make customer voice personal to help employees ideate solutions. Post a picture of the customer you interviewed (e.g. “Sally”), explain her needs, how you want to help her, and how she’s different from the employee.
  6. Establish a “train schedule of ideas”. Don’t put all your resources in one idea. Spread them out and realize some ideas will naturally move faster toward commercialization  than others since they are cheaper and easier to pilot.   Make big bets on ideas you have confidence will succeed and small bets on ideas you’re less sure of.  After six months, increase investment as confidence grows.
  7. Consider buying a start-up. If a new business model is very different from yours or if the disruption may pose a threat to your existing businesses, buying outside expertise may make sense.  If it’s a potential disruption to your core business, move the innovation team across the street to give them some autonomy.

The bottom line is most companies have more than enough ideas floating around within the organization but they lack a structured way of soliciting and evaluating ideas. With senior executive support, clear guidelines for employees, and the right inputs from customers, a company can better leverage its employees’ ideas and create a climate for ongoing disruptive innovation.

CEB Market Insights members, for more on innovation, please visit our Product Development topic center, and join us on 22 April for our webinar on Informing New Product Development.