Leading Through Transformation, Anne Mulcahy #TMRE #MRX

Live blogs by @LoveStats! This is a session summary from The Market Research Event by IIR in Orlando, Florida, November 2011. It was posted mere minutes after completion of the talk. Any inaccuracies are my own. Any humorous side remarks are also my own. Feel free to leave comments and critiques.

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3:00 PM – Leading a Transformation: The Role of Leadership & Insights
Anne Mulcahy, Former CEO, Xerox Corporation (Interviewed by Bill MacElroy)

  • Anne is involved with the Save the Children charity.
  • As a CEO what is the balance between intuition and quantitative data. Intuition is code for experience and talent. Coupled, rounded, shaped by customer data and insight. Polarization is never good. People are hampered by lack of intuition around data.  Best campaigns come with big idea that is intuitive but is shaped by research. Always impressed with IBM’s smart planet. As observer, it is a belief system about where opportunities will be.
  • Can you teach this?  It can be learned, not taught. Be a good listener, good learner, that can trump data. Sometimes, yield to the data.
  • What is role of research in discovering new things? It’s important. MR is not an insurance policy. That’s like leading the witness. Focus groups are often a validation than a challenge. [qualies just felt a pain in their chest] Don’t do overkill. Don’t say research is more than it is.
  • Technology and innovation are core. How innovative is MR? Creating customer value chain is very important. Innovation needs improvement, beyond just the MR component. Research shouldn’t be predictable answers to predicable questions. Richer role for MR in helping to provoke new ideas and opportunities. Mix the engineers and customers into “dreaming” sessions. What are your barriers to productivity?
  • Where did idea for dream sessions come?  They didn’t
    A small, much used Xerox photocopier in the li...

    Image via Wikipedia

    launch products, they escaped. 🙂 Original fax/print/scan machines didn’t sell well. Where did the design come from?  Don’t want to research the product. Want to research people. Brought in anthropologists. Research was painful but helped them intervene and solve problems. That was the beginning that pulled them out of the product spec world and into the people world.

  • Are researchers bold and forward with new ideas? We are often what our client wants us to be. Cautious client = cautious research. Client needs to value and not shoot the messenger. Dual responsibility. Create an environment where boldness is embraced and then let researchers step up to the plate.
  • We are drowning in data and starving for insights. This is the opportunity. We are driving in social media data. We need to be guided to actions. We don’t need a lot of things that were taken over by tech. We need judgment and thinking.
  • What are other data sources? Customers. This feeds experience intuition. Personal context is greater value when combined with quant. Your own people. These are your qual sources. Connect better. Listen better. Be a better receiver.  Your employees are your army. Employees can be more candid than consumers sometimes. They are an untapped source of data. And they realize how much they matter when you ask their opinions.
  • Would you ever hire a manager who didn’t believe in research? Probably not. We’ve done things this way for so many years. It’s ritual now. We need to challenge this whether research or engineering or any other area. Must respect fact base.  Challenge of methodology? for sure. Don’t hire a cynic but hire a skeptic.
  • Need leadership. It’s cultural. Reward and embrace different characteristics. Experimental. Invest in new approaches. Risk taking is hard to find.  This is how to break through. Never lose respect for quant. Don’t throw out fundamentals. Create integrated approach.
  • Do organizations like to learn? We get paid for expertise and learning is about not knowing. People need to be more comfortable with IDK answer.
  • Most valuable insight from research? Customer value from technology. Dreaming sessions. Tougher to differentiate on technology itself. I want more than hardware and if that’s it, price will be my answer. They needed to transform into a services industry. Be the best hardware or wrap tech into solutions. Moved from what they knew well to new territory.
  • Biggest dud because of research? Big ones never bombed because they were iterative. Research as insurance policy can be problematic.  You can’t say “i’m great” when the newspapers say you have problems. They went dark. No ads. Did nothing. For about two years while they cleaned up their act. people felt it was wrong at the time. Ads talking to other brands let them talk about themselves without talking about themselves.
  • How should research insulate itself from global problems to be a must have?  Research can help with prioritization. This is value creation. Good MR, quant and precision about how you use your resources. Don’t tell me to do it if i can’t act on it.
  • Is there an ROI on MR? Slippery slope. Need metrics. Good measurements. Err on the side of ROI. Research is one piece of the puzzle. Be accountable for metrics. Generate baseline measures. There isn’t a disciplined ROI.
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