Here is a simple exercise. Go to your Business Analytics team or Market Intelligence Director, and ask them how many ideas or improvements their research work has produced in the last 36 months. Then ask them how many of those ideas have been implemented in the organization. Better yet, how many are in the process of implementation?
An honest discussion will unveil a simple truth. It’s not a lack of knowledge that is at the core of your organization’s stagnation. It is the lack of courage to act. As research methods evolve and become more sophisticated with new qualitative and quantitative tools and concepts, organizations remain quite resistant to taking action. Avoiding change and staying the course seems to be the prevailing modus operandi of many organizations.
Questioning data or seeking further analysis by geography, gender, age, etc. are all excuses. These are simply delaying tactics that hardly mask the true intention, which is to avoid taking action and activating change. Considering the amount of money invested in research, we ought to rethink the practice. It’s time to measure a return on investment (based on actions derived from research and organizational alignment) and take action.
I would like to propose a new way of rethinking research:
- Ownership – Internal intelligence teams should own the intelligence activation role as well as the usage of their “research products.”
- Accountability – Develop and implement a “return on research” model, thus holding people accountable to research results activation.
- Alignment – Set up activation teams before launching new research and ensure there is a team ready to take action.
- New dissemination – Research results should come with internal readiness and dissemination workshops to ensure a commitment to action.
- Business ownership – Make business units share ownership of research to ensure applicability and results that actually matter and are not just statistically significant.
For years, analysis paralysis has been an all-too-common plague in research. The temptation has increased with the growth of data sources and sophisticated platforms. I can see organizations growing teams of data crunchers that produce reports and insights that we continue to ignore. Only now, the price tag of unused research is growing. Let us not fall again into the trap and delight in the power of the numbers. The numbers do not set us free. Action does. The time has come for a Chief Intelligence Activation Officer. Like the rest of the organization, value is not what we know but rather the actions we take. It’s time for intelligence-driven value creation.
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