By Taddy Hall, Project Director, The Cambridge Group
Experience and research suggest that many CEOs look for growth in the wrong places and in the wrong ways, thereby missing opportunities and leaving them for the newbies. In a sense, though, this is good news: success lies in doing things differently, not spending more.
Specifically, there are four approaches organizations often take, none of which reliably lead to the actionable insights that business leaders need:
In each case, it’s easy to see why an industry leader might have interest in the findings; however, these outputs speak primarily to aspects of the existing business or to the franchises of other established players. In other words, mapping current demand reveals little to nothing of the less-visible latent demand that is essential fuel for transformational innovation. As Henry Ford mused a hundred years ago: If he’d asked folks what they wanted, they would have asked for faster horses. Echoing Ford, Steve Jobs noted that consumers can’t describe what they’ve never experienced.
The first step toward actionable insights is to align market research with desired outcomes. Organizationally, a way to facilitate this is to split the research initiatives for tracking and improving business performance from the ones for transformational innovation. The next step is to give market research the right assignments. There are a number of jobs that market research can perform to advance the quest for profitable growth; let’s focus on the top four:
In decades of client work and parallel research, there is no indication of one best way to organize a research function. But what is clear is that top performers—leaders of firms delivering consistent innovation successes and organic profitable growth—take great pains to align desired research outcomes with appropriate resources, methods and incentives.
Insights—especially those that result in breakthrough innovation and profitable
Growth—follow hard work, focus and clear process. Insight is the wellspring of innovation and, as such, is fundamentally concerned with identifying what isn’t—not measuring what is.
Actionable insights are much easier to find if you know where to look and how to identify them. Some of the very best ideas are simply hidden in plain sight for CEOs to find.
This article was originally published on ChiefExecutive.net.