A little over a week ago, I was at a GATE (Gender and the Economy) event at Rotman. Here's a clip of Abigail Moriah talking about her experience. (If you can't see it, you can't be it).
Later in the event, Shirley Hoy talked about the importance of being able to zoom in, and zoom out, when approaching any issue. The next day, we were involved in a really spirited discussion with clients about something similar. Whether it's design thinking, or understanding customers, or working through a business challenge, the ability to take multiple perspectives is invaluable. It's where that old adage about not being able to see the forest for the trees comes from.
Why is this important to you? If you want to make #better decisions, by all means, look at the big picture. That's critical. Then take time to focus on a few details. And lastly, zoom back out again to see if what you saw at the beginning looks the same as it did when you first considered it.
My name is Megann Willson, and I'm one of the Partners here at PANOPTIKA. With my partner, Steve Willson, we work with our clients to find practical, usable solutions to their customer challenges. We can help you cut through complexity and ambiguity and zoom in on what's important. Find more insights on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn. Then click below to sign up for weekly news that will help you make better decisions for your business.
Groundhog Day has a reputation for being a day when the same inane scenario repeats itself, well, repeatedly. And Albert Einstein is widely credited with defining insanity as, “Doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results”. There’s one situation where we at PANOPTIKA think Einstein was wrong, and you might want to be a bit more like the groundhog.
Most of the research we do for our clients is custom research, so naturally, it can be adapted to be different every time. Questions and lines of discovery, methodologies, and even target audiences, can be switched out or massaged to meet their varying objectives. But there’s still one kind of research that we recommend you do over, and over again with few changes – at least for three years running. Tracking studies, or longitudinal studies, or wave studies, involve taking measures of your key performance indicators. Those, you want to keep as static as you can.
Let me explain. Some of you may be fortunate enough to be in an industry that there is market data regularly released in syndicated reports, so you can check those numbers on an annual, or even quarterly, basis. Do that, if you’re able. Many of our clients are in highly sensitive industries, or very specialized verticals, and that means they need to source this kind of data by using primary research. In this case, we recommend they (and you, if this is your kind of company), undertake a standalone tracking study with as many levers as possible controlled, at least once annually.
This isn’t because we don’t want you to ask new questions or learn new things. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. This study should reveal if there are changes occurring over time. It will let you see whether the target audience (your core clients) are having an attitude shift. Or whether patterns are emerging that might present you with a new opportunity, or reveal an unanticipated risk. You’ll also be able to be more confident that you’re not getting different answers, just because you changed how you’re asking the questions.
Tracking studies can be helpful for your budget, as well. With custom studies, a big piece of your cost is developing the research methodology, working with you to determine the target, and so on – basically, setting the foundation. Just like marketing tactics or online education of your clients, if you then go to “rinse and repeat”, your costs should diminish somewhat. Partners like us will often provide you pricing in advance for additional waves of the study, so you can make a better estimate of next year’s costs.
So, while we won’t advise you approach insanity (by Einstein’s definition), as we approach this year’s Groundhog Day, call us to talk about whether a tracking study is right for you.
My name is Megann Willson, and I’m one of the Partners here at PANOPTIKA. We work with you to see everything that will help you make better decisions for your business or career. You can also find us on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook. And if you sign up before Friday, you’ll get this week’s issue of news you can use delivered straight to your inbox. Just click the button below to register. (We don't need to ask you twice, right?)
Do you ever have one of those days where it seems like you're being sent the same message again and again? I've had one of those already today.
If you're like many business people, you may have started the year off with not only some personal resolutions, but some business ones, as well. We all have great plans when we're sitting on a comfy couch and the phone isn't ringing, our email isn't pinging, and we're not being bombarded by social media messages. Slowly, surely, though, we can slip. Even if we've been doing a great job, we can lose our vigilance and let distractions and habits creep in, that will move us away from where we intended to go. Unexpected events can break our concentration and mess up our plans.
You may find that you've been able to stick with your plan really closely (congratulations, well done!), or you might have something happen that has happened with a few of our connections this week. I took a fall this morning, shortly after crowing about how well my exercise plan has been going. (No worries, pride aside, I'm all good). The first thing I thought was, I need to remind people to get back up! You may have a personal event knock you for a loop, like one of our friends and colleagues, who had an unhappy loss completely break her usually unflappable stride. Or you might be like our friend Debbie Adams of PeopleCan consulting, who spent longer than planned in Halifax, with recent weather events in Newfoundland throwing a wrench in her travel arrangements, and her travel schedule skew her personal success practice just a little.
All of these things have something in common. Not one of us decided that because we'd had a slip or a slide, we should sit down and stop. Nope. We've all got enough experience that we knew what to do. Get up. Get up right away, and get going. (In fact Debbie had a great video teaching session this morning about falling off the wagon - and how the right response is to chase the wagon!)
Whether it's "great minds think alike", or as my father-in-law would say, "fools seldom differ", all of us have learned this lesson that I'm sharing with you today. As a quote I read on social media yesterday said, you're not starting over, you're starting from experience. Go get 'em.
I'm Megann Willson and I'm one of the Partners here at PANOPTIKA. We work with our clients to help them see everything they need to know, to make better decisions for their career or their business. You can also find us on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter, and if you sign up, we'll send news you can use (but not too much), direct to your inbox every Friday afternoon. We love to watch you grow.
How well do you know your customers? Have you undertaken a big research project recently, to gain some in-depth insights? Or have you fallen prey to the not-really-correct school of thought that "Steve Jobs didn't believe in market research, and that's good enough for me?" The truth is, neither of these approaches is right. There, I've said it. Could it be that famous marketer Steve Jobs was wrong? Yes, sort of. (And about a few things, I might add).
The truth is, getting to know your customers is an ongoing process. As you launch your business, you need to build an understanding of your targets or prospects. It's a green field. All you will have to rely on is research. From that point forward, though, you need to constantly be piecing together different layers of intelligence to understand who they are, how they work, what they want, and why they do what they do. Asking them to connect the dots won't work. It's not their job to do your work for you. (That's the kind of research Jobs was right to reject). Instead, give them an opportunity to have free-flowing conversations with you. Let them talk about their aspirations, whether they are directly related to what you want to sell them, or not. Then have some conversations with constraints. Give them things to compare, and try to understand how they select, sort, and prioritize. Look at what you can learn from "unresearch" - sales data, notes from interactions they may have had with your service workers, or your product team. See what they do with other people who sell them things. Find out what delights them when they're not at work.
Customer understanding or user experience research is more than simply testing a product or website and seeing how it goes, as a one-off. It's about building a rich mosaic from many tiny fragments of information. If you throw it all into a database, or a central file, or don't try to sort it at all, you're wasting an opportunity to create something beautiful. But if you categorize it, move it around, and look for connections, you may start to see forms and patterns that make something out of what seemed to be nothing. Find ways to sort all your customer data, and you'll usually find you have a rich mosaic of understanding, sitting right on your shelf, in your hard drive, or floating around in the cloud. And like a mosaic, look at it up close, then stand back, and observe it from a distance. I'm sure you'll discover things you never expected, that will help you create whole new customer focus, and grow your business, whatever it is that you make or do.
I'm Megann Willson, and I'm one of the Partners here at PANOPTIKA. A customer insight audit can help you and your team to use what you already know to build a solid foundation for this year's business strategy. If you'd like more insights, follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook, or sign up for weekly ideas, tips, and offers using the orange button below.
A week or so ago, we had the most refreshing experience. It made us feel amazing. Serene, even.
One of our clients asked us for less. Now, we always try to go the extra mile with our clients, and if they are new to us, and we're working on a project, we try to show them all the possible lines of inquiry we might explore, to learn more about their customers or prospects. We prefer a very open journey, but if someone doesn't know us, they might have trouble seeing how that will work out. So imagine our relief when the client called and said, "I like where we're going, but don't you think we will get a richer result if we ask very broad questions and then probe as the respondent takes it in their direction, not ours?
Yes, yes we do. Thanks for asking us that. Constraints can be useful. But questions that will take the discussion in the direction you want, rather than where the respondent wants to go, are likely to end up with you feeling like you didn't learn anything new, and simply confirm what you already belief. The lesson? Open yourself up to simplicity, if you want a richer, more meaningful result.
I'm Megann Willson, and I'm one of the partners here at PANOPTIKA. If you'd like us to help you see everything that's really important to your prospects or customers, let's talk. You can find all our contact information here on the website. And if you'd like regular insights that will spark ideas you might not have been thinking about already, you can also find us on LinkedIn, on Twitter, or on Facebook.
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Megann and Steve, Partners in PANOPTIKA, are working for our clients every day to help them see everything they need to know to make better decisions in their complex business environment.
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