An Insight Professional’s Biggest Pain Is…?…Creating No Change!
By Martin Silcock
Recently on Linkedin I posted a question in several customer insights and marketing-related groups about what people thought an insight professionals’ biggest pain was. (Feel free to add your perspective).
I found that they often seem to be caught between a “rock and a hard place”…frustrated in getting change to happen.
I’m interested in finding what is the most serious, even the “ultimate” pain encountered by “insight professionals” because I want to build resources to help alleviate or remove the pain.
The response I got was about 25 comments. This level was surprisingly low to me considering the many thousands who are members of these groups.
Maybe there is no pain!
However, there were some common threads emerging amongst those who gave their view and I have interpreted/paraphrased how I interpreted them.
- The stress of being expected to come up with insights from data analysed, when there are none to be found in the data collected.
- The disappointment arising from absence of focus and alignment about what is being sought by a stakeholder or client at the front end of a project, that reveals itself in unsatisfactory and non-actionable results
- The frustration caused when a project produces no “new” information, for the researcher and clients that would indicate a need for some change
- The lack of novelty or ability to action results that connect with client or stakeholder tactical or strategic interests
- The challenge of distilling large amounts of information into concise format (one page) that is sufficient to do justice to conveying a new direction, new learning, new set of questions
- The lack of effective ways to integrate disparate types and sources of data and information into a form that increases the livelihood of producing genuine new insights
- The balance between delivering the “truth” and the politically acceptable so that change happens
- The avoidance of specifying overly narrow analysis and story lines (Due to budgets?) from data that are not, on their own, strong enough to initiate significant change
Looking at these there seem to me to be three areas of pain and needs amongst insight professionals in client companies and agencies…and where help is needed.
- Increase the level of upfront clarity about the “exam question” clients and stakeholders are really asking and how any resulting information will relate to and add value to or change their business strategies, tactics and decisions.
- Increase the understanding and clarity amongst clients and stakeholders about how new project results and existing information imply the support for, and indicate the need and direction of change needed, to objectives, strategies, structures and processes
- Increase the ease by which information, insights and knowledge can be integrated, distilled, summarised and communicated at the right level of detail for decision makers and implementation teams = ready for action results (my solution : create tools for decision making from research)
I think it is revealing that none of these areas of “pain” relate to the need for any new research methodology or sources, i.e the aspects that much of the “Evidence” industry seems fixated.
So to be serious about helping Insight Professional’s pain the following three areas might be worthy of further focus:
- Re-designing the briefing and problem definition process about what is needed and expected from studies between “consumers” and providers of marketing information insight and evidence
- Building skills in methods and tools to aid the distillation, sifting and integration of new and existing information and knowledge, and then linking this directly to business priorities and strategies
This suggests to me new roles and skills are needed to address these. They focus on creating action and the change required to produce value from information, insightful analysis and synthesis.
How to get something to change for the better.
- Inside client companies – Insight Implementation Managers/Consultants
- Inside MR and strategy agencies – Insight Success Managers/Partners –
The common skills sets needed for these roles I would expect to be :
- Design and use problem solving and problem framing – new perspective creator
- Hypothesis design mentality – set expectations up front, good question asker
- Familiarity and confidence with quantitative and qualitative research information sources and formats
- Wide knowledge of thinking models and frameworks and their application in business
- Process and visual thinking mindset – pictures and diagrams summarising lots of info
- Idea connecting and big picture creator – creative imagination
- Structured analytical, critical and systemic thinking styles – contextually flexible
- Flexible presentation and communication modes – tell, discuss, consult, generate, facilitate
Interested in your thoughts, builds and challenges to this thinking.