“Lean Research”, right for the times we live in?

March 17, 2013 at 11:06 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I’ve had the opportunity to attend a few MR and Marketing Industry conferences in Australia, the UK, North America and Asia over the past 12 months. As always, these conferences are designed to scare the living daylights out of marketing and research professionals. They are highlighting how much things are changing, that consumers are more empowered than ever, that technology is the driving force, that clients are demanding more, faster, for less, and the fast flowing giant river of information (big data).In short, they are driving home the fact that the Revolution is on, i.e. “If you don’t like change, you will like relevance less.”

Two key thoughts are staying with me, one from Steve Sammartino (@sammartino) from Grey who discussed the idea of Omnipresent deflation. In short, everything is getting cheaper to do. I think the research industry is getting stuck with this concept and unsure what to do.

What is our model to cope with Omnipresent deflation and still survive?

The second thought that is sticking with me was from Jim Antonopoulos (@jimantonopoulos), from TANK. He spoke about the advertising industry needing to adjust creative delivery to the business environment in 2012 and suggested that they are moving to an idea of ‘Lean creativity’.

Lean is not quick and dirty, it’s not cheap and cheerful, it’s creative process and delivery that is better fit for purpose today vs. the past. Not over-engineered. Less waste.

Again, what would the research response be to ‘Lean Research’? Many are jumping to DIY software solutions or ‘free research’ via observation. This is not lean, these are just cheaper solutions. It’s not what we need. Business and government still require robust, well designed, citizen or consumer, input to assist decision making we just need to make what we do now “Leaner”.

For me, Lean Research ideas include recycling profiled sample, not asking questions that you won’t use the data for, shorter, sharper, longitudinal learning, always on research, mobile or Facebook enabled, making good use of valuable open ended responses (especially in B2B), more small experiments vs. large catch all projects, more test, action, retest, action vs. one go at receiving feedback (interactive product development over weeks instead of months). Not quick and dirty, not shallow but, dare I suggest, better quality.

For me, Lean Research ideas include:
• recycling profiled sample;
• not asking questions that you won’t use the data for;
• shorter, sharper, longitudinal learning;
• always on research;
• mobile or Facebook enabled;
• making good use of valuable open ended responses (especially in B2B);
• more small experiments vs. large catch all projects;
• more test, action, retest, action vs. one go at receiving feedback.

Not quick and dirty. Not shallow but, dare I suggest, better quality.

We have started to explore what lean research could mean to research at Vision Critical in Sydney. Last week we brainstormed 18 potential executions/lean research ideas that we will be experimenting with over the next few weeks. We are hoping that 4-5 great applications will come out of this and we can begin sharing with clients and proving our point.

Here’s to a leaner future, and by leaner I mean healthier future for all who choose to adapt. If you have ideas on Lean Research or thoughts on how to go Lean, we’d love to hear them.


here is a quick summary of my career to date care of Professional Marketing

December 20, 2012 at 11:06 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


Limited Resources, Unlimited Ideas #amigov

September 18, 2012 at 12:15 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Last week I was lucky enough to attend the Australia Marketing Institute Government and Communications conference on the beautiful Gold Coast @ the Hyatt
The conference was tweeted #amigov

Instead of lots of notes to read I thought I would write up my key themes.

Omnipresent deflation from @sammartino

• Everything is cheaper today
• Technology deflation, hacker culture where imagination is winning Marketing = technology eq Harvey Norman, group on, everything cheaper. Change of power to the buyer.
• More for less everywhere and the focus on the long tail
• Collaboration marketing and collaboration across agencies
• Web of things google images. Smart info when we need it.
• 4p’s still exist but its about Collaboration and piggybacking
• Reinvent or be replaced

My Take
What is marketing and research’s model in this?
Is it going to happen anyway? This has got me thinking on how much Agencies and marketers need to adapt to the new world

Want to get really clear with you on what we are trying to do.
Happy staff = happy clients
Necessity is the mother of invention
Advocacy is not related to pay, but to listening to staff and making them feel part of things
Research has been growing forever, bigger offices, more people Last 5 years, smaller offices, getting rid of people.
Client WOM? Do people want to be like their peers? Who are the cool brands, people we want as advocates?
Learn for free research, take photos, sit and watch, google ngram, google trends,

My Take
Again what is our model in this? how is marketing and research adapting
Working harder – impossible? Not sustainable, not necessary?
Working smarter? How
What are we doing to create partnerships ?

Lean creativity
1. Understand identity
2. A core brand idea is simple, memorable, inspiring (lonely planet- Travel changes you)
3. What is our problem (how does this translate to customers problem and needs)
4. Learn for free research
5. Building a brand team and a Brand platform
6. Don’t reinvent the wheel- Using creative tools (6 hats, mind maps) 8. Understand the Meaningful comms that hit location and attention

My Take
Leaner research – is this an idea?

Andrew Hockley, dept pm’s office

Start every project like you have zero budget. To get a good answer you need a great question.
Persuasive is not the same as likable
Emotion always trumps logic
Good is the enemy of great

Gov 2.0 @darrenwhitelaw
1. Collaboration, openness, empowerment

1. Collaboration B
2. Openness – C-
3. Empowerment D

The Future A+
JBDI (Just bloody do it)

My Take
Still a way to go to get government into the community world and 2.0 but things are slowly changing. May start with Local Government

Very similar themes to AMSRS Conference the week before in Melbourne, more for less, using existing resources and driving value in a new world/way of working

Great presentations make a difference

September 5, 2012 at 6:25 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I have been thinking alot about presenting and clear communication lately, i am impressed there is a best presentation awards at the 2012 AMSRS conference that kicks off tomorrow in Melbourne. this is one of the big changes in MR conferences over the past 10 years, from lots of charts and data to more engaging stories.
I am looking for new ideas on presenting. here is my best one to date, My thinking about the link between innovation, happiness and company culture using Prezi as a tool http://tiny.cc/8z3ihw

Mobile and Mobility –can we handle the truth ?

July 13, 2012 at 11:43 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The iconic one liner from Colonel Jessep  (Jack Nicholson) to Junior Lieutenant Kaffee (Tom Cruise) in the 1992 film, A Few Good Men when  Cruise’s character asks for the truth and Nicholson bellows back, “you can’t handle the truth” is one of the most powerful film monologues of all time (in my humble opinion). The bully Nicolson refuses to consider that the young upstart (Cruise) has any idea of what is required in “his world” and refuses to acknowledge a new world that is changing.  In the end that was Colonel Jesseps downfall.  The market research profession is changing to better suit the needs of the people we need to engage with and I hope we are ready for this change.  

I think the most important driver of change for the MR profession globally and certainly in Asia Pac and Australia is going to be the growth of mobile.  It will lead to challenges and opportunities. For MR professionals it gives us the opportunity to stand out from the rest and communicate with consumers and citizens in a way that they find interesting, acceptable and something they want to be part of.  Mobile devices provide the single largest opportunity to collect reliable information in a cost and time effective manner.  It is an approach right for the times.  

The future of digital engagement is mobile and digital is changing everything. How consumers communicate, shop, gather information, engage with brands and interact with each other or companies. So for me mobile and mobility is exciting because it’s: 

  • More than about response rates, it’s about respondent experience and location
  • Gives us a chance to improve accuracy and quality by reducing the lag between experience and response feedback

Consider the drive of mobility in markets such as Asia and Latin America, where half of the world’s population is getting mobile quickly. Where the young are the most connected online and more likely than anyone else to use their mobile phone for everything except phone calls?

Mobile penetration in Asia is over 65% and in many markets companies are skipping web based solutions and online research and head straight to mobile.

Pushing boundaries is going to be required, grounded in our basic privacy and code principles but also appreciating how human behaviour has changed.

I think even Colonel Jessep (big Jack) would have a hard time arguing against mobile and mobility with the growing mountain of evidence right now. 


BE – New news or BS?

March 27, 2012 at 1:07 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Behavioural Economics, or BE. It’s a hot topic right now in the world of research. It’s also a challenging topic for us to debate as it cuts to the core of what we do, how we do it and how much it will cost business and government to do it! Luckily we have a number of great local and international minds discussing what it is, what it isn’t and what it means for market and social research.

In short, BE suggests that traditional economics is unrepresentative of actual behaviour because of its focus on rational behaviour, which doesn’t actually exist. I am not sure if this is all new news, as, we have always known that many decisions are made at an unconscious level and that we may not know why we do something. However, this doesn’t mean that rational decision making doesn’t exist or isn’t useful to measure at times. Abi Hill and Stephen Phillips’ recent article in Research World entitled ‘We’re only human’ suggests we have to review how we do things and take out our own in going perspectives, “‘anchors and predefined constructs” ’, which, they argue, marginalises the consumers perspective – wow, they are fighting words indeed!.

As is the case with many of these topics, there always seems to be more questions than conclusive answers:-

• Does this change what we do or just how we interpret the information we collect on stated behaviour?
• How do we do undertake this form of analysis cost effectively and accurately?
• If asking decontextualised questions decontextualized invalidates results, how do we get the context required?
• What about passive forms of data capture and how do they stack up against the privacy code?
• Does this open up new opportunities for MR?
• What are the implications for qualitative research and content analysis?

So there is a lot to debate and whilst it is challenging, it’s not new news for research professionals in Australia. Much of the innovation within our industry over the past 20 years has been trying to address the issues laid out in BE theory. We have a different role to play than most economists and we are being asked to make thousands of predictions and forecasts every month in an effort to help business and government make better decisions. Long live the anchors and structures that enable improved decisions and let’s explore this brave new world of BE and see what’s possible and practical.

How Can Research Help Google?

March 15, 2012 at 5:50 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I don’t know about you, but I have never considered myself a qualitative or quantitative researcher. This may be because I started my career client side but I have always thought of myself as a business person, trying to work in or with companies and government to make better decisions (with their customers/constituents in mind). Often, how we collect the information required to make better decisions has not mattered (primary and secondary), as long as it is collected ethically, accurately, with quality in mind and has more than a sprinkling of analysis and thinking added in.

This has led me (and many of you I am sure) to all sorts of information and data collection methods including ‘desk research’ (a term now only used by those of us that can remember work before the internet). I am excited at the opportunities for our profession operating in the so-called ‘Google age’ because the potential appears endless (or, in other words, I am finding it hard to keep up ), as long as we choose to evolve and be part of it.

The world we are living in includes new potential competitors and contributors to primary research – along with new applications like Pinterest, Gentlemint and Instagram that may well play a role in research, given that they show us photos and imagery people all around the world choose to represent a word or a brand. The problem is we don’t exactly know who thinks what and why they think this and geographic boundaries rarely exist.

Google and the many new competitors may need our help in making sure these new tools are useful not only as methods of collecting data but also provide the analysis and thinking that I mentioned above. New companies and professionals need our advice and input to ensure ethics, quality and privacy are considered, so that long term they can continue to be useful. They don’t know what they don’t know yet, but our profession knows very well how to collect information in a reliable and high quality manner.

I recently completed a business-to-business survey that was sent to me from one of the new competitors in primary research and believe me when I say they could do with some advice on the principles of basic questionnaire design.

One important consequence of the Google world in which we live is the expectation of speed. We are expecting everything faster than ever before but I am not sure that commercial decisions are being made at the same pace.

Are you leading from the front?

February 23, 2012 at 6:30 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Leading from the front

Sir Gustav Nossal, a great Australian leader, scientist, thinker and our Y2K Australian of the Year in 2000 defined strong leadership as having “‘the courage, creativity and capacity to inspire participation, development and sustainability for a strong community’.”

Having watched and learned from those that I have worked with or watched closely or observed from afar, I would add to Mr Nossal’s list my own top 5 five leadership qualities:; integrity;, self awareness;, delegation skills;, a strong sense of vision and; above all, a good sense of humour (especially the ability to laugh at yourself when it counts).

There appears no set, agreed criteria for being a good leader and people are always quick to criticize from afar. However, if you want to be a leader be sure to grow some think skin and be confident in your ability to meet the challenges that will come your way, but also know when it’s time to listen and learn yourself.

Feeling Crowded?

February 21, 2012 at 7:52 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Is anyone feeling crowded out there?

If your local pub, shopping centre, streets and roads are feeling a little crowded lately, it may be because the world has just ticked over to a new era. As of October 31st 2011 there are now 7 billion people sharing the Earth’s land and resources (Source: UN Population Fund). According to demographers, the earth hit 1 billion people in 1804 (how did they count?), and then it took 123 years to hit the 2 billion mark before the pace accelerated, 5 billion in 1987 and 6 billion in 1998. We all know how hard forecasts are to make, however the UN are forecasting 8 billion people on the planet by 2025.

The majority of population growth since the 1950’s has come from so called “developing nations” which is everywhere except, Europe, North America, Japan and Australia/NZ. There are obviously massive social implications of population growth including strains on energy, food prices, environmental stresses and almost 1 billion under-nourished. But let’s be self absorbed for a minute and think of the impact of this on the market and social research profession.

Will there be a greater demand for social research and polling?
Will there be more opportunities for sharing our technique expertise in other countries?
Will there be opportunities for quality and ethics information transfer?
Will there be even more data collected and needing analysis?
Will segmentations that identify key motivations and drivers exist across geographic boundaries or at all?
Will there be more or less roles for market and social researchers that can brief, design, collect, analyse, interpret and communicate impactful stories in this new era?
What challenges lie ahead of our profession in making sense of the data, big or small?

Your guess is as good as mine here however it is clear that the overarching population trends will impact marketing, consumers, citizens and therefore research. The global shifts in GDP power, technology and digitization, a more empowered consumer and escalating privacy concerns will continue to throw up challenges and we need to continue our evolution as a profession working closely both locally and keeping connected internationally.

Wisdom of the membership

September 7, 2011 at 4:35 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

In 2004 when James Surowiecki published The Wisdom of Crowds he caused quite a stir within market and social research; a stir that is still being debated seven years later. In the book, Surowiecki argued that ‘the many’ are smarter than ‘the few’. He presented case studies to show how collective wisdom shapes business and economies. In short, he proposes that the aggregation of information from groups results in better decisions being made that those made by any single member of the group. I don’t want to debate here whether this is right or wrong for research, but I do believe that getting input from lots of AMSRS members on a range of topics is leading to better decision making for the Society as a collective.

Our strategy is to listen, discuss and consider how far our finances can stretch – and then act with all of our members’ best interests in mind. We are working to get more members’ voices heard and examples of this include:

  • The QPMR review in August was undertaken by a fresh set of members with both clients and suppliers represented. Thank you to Kathy Benson for getting that ball rolling with her simple post on LinkedIn.
  • We involved members in a discussion about the key messages we should present on massive banners to promote the profession, which will be displayed on the exterior of the Sydney Town Hall this week.
  • Members also have a chance this month to have your say on the new draft constitution. The draft will be emailed to all AMSRS members in September and we are hoping for wide-ranging member feedback.
  • There has been member feedback on the structure of the Research Effectiveness Awards, which has resulted in more award categories. Check out both the news story and double page spread in this edition of Research News (http://www.amsrs.com.au/index.cfm?a=detail&id=8512&eid=402), which pre-empts the launch of 2012 Awards at the conference. I am particularly excited about the new Young Researcher’s Award. Mark your calendar now on 24 May 2012 for the Gala Awards night in Sydney.
  • We are taking action on the request for more educational features in Research News and the theme of next month’s edition is ‘continuing education’.

Listen, discuss and consider what we can do, make sure you have a say.

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