Tag Archives: leadership

Voxpopme 10: What can companies or managers do to support the advancement of women in the workplace? @WomenInResearch #MRX #NewMR

EP10: What do you believe is the ONE most important step companies or managers can take to support the advancement of women in the workplace?

I’m delighted to contribute to this episode of VoxPopMe along with WIRe, Women In Research. The team at WIRe contributes so many good things to our industry in order to help bring more women forward as the experts that we are. Do take the time to check them out and see how they can help you, or how you can help them.

It’s hard to identify one most important step because there are so many small and big things people and companies can do. I’ll frame it like this. Companies can take a good, hard, honest look at the efforts they’ve made thus far and course correct.

  • What percentage of your senior leadership team is women? Does your senior team suffer from token womanism? It’s frustrating to research a potential client or employer only to find the senior team is ten men and one women. (Let’s not even go so far as to consider diversity of ethnicity, disability, etc) If your company truly values diversity, it’s literally impossible for the demographics of the senior team to not demonstrate it. And don’t course correct by adding a VP of Diversity. Course correct by hiring an expert in your industry/business, e.g., VP of Data/IT/Research/CustomerExperience.
  • What percentage of promotions with senior leadership potential have been offered to women? We know that women are less likely to ask for promotions and raises so pay attention to whether you’re offering these opportunities to people who are asking (overtly or covertly) versus people who have quietly contributed to the bottom line without beating their chest and proclaiming how great they are.
  • What percentage of speakers sent by your company to conferences last year were women, and did you send the same woman every time? You might notice that the same speakers appear at conferences over and over again. Well, maybe it’s time to divide up the 25 speaking slots among 10 people, even better among five women and five men who’ve never taken the stage before. In my work with new speakers, I’ve yet to see a single new speaker fail miserably on stage. In fact, the fast majority are AS GOOD AS other speakers. I kid you not. Sure, some show their nerves but the audience cares more about the content than the nerves. I guarantee you’ve got at least one diamond in the rough, probably several. Take the risk, earn the reward.
  • Are you an encourager, nudger, promoter, motivator, and ally? Do you regularly (kindly and respectfully) push and prod to help the quiet people show their expertise? Sometimes, asking someone to submit a conference proposal will turn into a yes on the fifth or tenth ask. Keep on asking. Keep on making sure they know they DO have expertise and they CAN succeed as a speaker/leader/manager, or whatever the seemingly scary task is.

Happy Women’s Day! May you share in the joy of equality and respect for everyone.

Photo target audience: Must love research, must be female, must have the same colour hair

What is Voxpopme Perspectives? Along with a group of market researchers from around the world, I was asked to participate in Voxpopme Perspectives – an initiative wherein insights industry experts share ideas about a variety of topics via video. You can read more about it here or watch the videos here. Viewers can then reach out over Twitter or upload their own video response. I’m more of a writer so you’ll catch me blogging rather than vlogging. 🙂


My wish for 2017

Last year I wrote two completely different books. The first, called People Aren’t Robots, is a practical guide to questionnaire design. The second book details strategies and tactics for becoming a thought leader. As I said, two completely unrelated books. But as I pondered about those books in general terms, I realized they actually have a lot in common. Both books devote much content towards treating others as real people – flawed, subjective, emotional human beings. 

In the world of questionnaire design, this means realizing that people want to help by answering questions even when researchers think they don’t ‘qualify.’ That people want to help researchers by finding the best answer even when no answers are correct. That people want to finish questionnaires even when those questionnaires are painfully long, confusing, and boring. It means that researchers need to rethink how they write questionnaires so that the human on the other side is treated with respect rather than as a source of data. 

In the world of thought leadership, it means letting employees talk to clients in their own voice, without formal language, and without trademarked terms. It means letting employees share their personalities and interests when they chat with customers online so that they become genuine friends. It means that employers need to trust their employees to relate to others in the online world as people, not logos. 

My wish for 2017 is simple. I wish that people would stop engaging with other people. Stop communicating, stop connecting, stop broadcasting. Instead, let’s chat. Let’s noodle over ideas. Let’s ponder and debate and talk. Let’s prattle on and yak and gab. Let’s drop the formalities of standard social media connections and business conversations and start behaving like genuine human beings with faces and names. People who share silly jokes and terrific research design tips, funny cartoons and cool SQL code bits. 

Not only is it more natural, it’s good for business. Think about some of the customer service experiences that have gone viral. This Netflix agent who pretended to be a Star Trek captain (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/31/netflix-customer-service_n_4178662.html) or this Amazon agent pretending to be Thor ( https://www.joe.ie/movies-tv/great-odins-raven-amazon-customer-service-agent-pretends-hes-thor-and-its-fantastic/459458). 

Of course, this isn’t a call for everyone to start pretending to be superheroes and cartoon characters. It is, however, a call to let the inner geek and nerd out of the box. Let the inner human out. 

Annie Pettit, PhD, FMRIA is a research methodologist who specializes in survey design and analysis, data quality, and innovative methods. She is the author of People Aren’t Robots: A practical guide to the technique and psychology of questionnaire design  as well as 7 Strategies and 10 Tactics to Become a Thought Leader, available on Amazon

Lift while you climb

At the recent AAPOR conference in Chicago, I attended a session on women leaders in the association. I hate to be conscious of it but I frequently find myself noticing just how few women are conference speakers in comparison to men.

I was hoping to hear insights from these women on how they managed to be strong and opinionated without being perceived as bitches and bossy-pants. That in particular is a gender bias I don’t understand but they didn’t really answer that question.

More importantly, this session made me think that that isn’t the issue. The issue really is lifting. Man or woman, sighted or blind, old or young, walking or wheeling, are you personally lifting as you climb?

I thought back to myself. I don’t see myself as a climber but rather someone who surprisingly lands in places that make me happy. But outsiders might see it as climbing. So as i’ve climbed, have I lifted?

I have co-authored papers with junior staff. (Some of whom have recoiled and refused but I think trying counts.) I have poked and prodded into the personal lives of others to figure out how I can push them closer to where they want to go. (Some have let me and I helped push them out of my company and into grad school.)

But I haven’t lifted enough. Beware colleagues and friends…

Written on the go

AAPOR Women Leaders Share Their Insights #AAPOR #MRX

AAPOR… Live blogging from beautiful Boston, any errors are my own…

Lessons in Leadership: AAPOR Women Leaders Share Their Insights;

Organizer: Anna Wiencrot, NORC at the University of Chicago
Moderator: Angie Gels, The Nielsen Company
Panelists: Mollyann Brodie, The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation Courtney Kennedy, Abt SRBI Nancy Mathiowetz, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Eileen O’Brien, Energy Information Administration, U.S. Department of Energy

  • “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women”
  • “Whatever you are, be a good one”
  • “Big deep breaths”
  • “Do your best, one shot at a time, then move on”
  • (all the panelists have children)  [why does this matter? male leaders don’t start a talk by listing off their kids]
  • This is a global phenomenon, and perhaps the US is behind – 17 world leaders in power and mostly in developing countries
  • Women aren’t always taught they can be successful in careers, “not the right time for me”
  • Need to focus on ensuring women are allowed/able to advance
  •  The female brain is wired differently, less aggression, more multitasking/big picture, more gut feeling, more worry
  • Women speak 20 000 words a day compared to men 7000. Female babies make more eye contact. These are untapped skills.
  • Maximize connecting, optimism, big picture thinking, intuition, negotiation
  • Minimize emotion, worry, staying in the background, multitasking, urge to “fix” – You don’t need to be everywhere doing everything

Eileen O’Brien

  • Hang around the people who bring out the best in you, her best teachers were science/math so she hung around them
  • She had thoughts of “the timing isn’t right” but went ahead anyways, also thoughts of “there’s more to this” and pursued the “more” several times
  • If people don’t know you by your first name, then you’re not reaching out
  • Write it down.
  • Bring someone with you who might not get there without your wisdom.
  • It’s okay to be 80% prepared.
  • [sorry, hard to hear this speaker]

Courtney Kennedy

  • Went to an interview that sounded interesting, was asked “have you ever worked with microsoft excel?”, she said yes even though she hadn’t, she got the job a week later, wonders if her entire future hinged on that one answer – she’s not recommending lying 🙂  You need to take initiative and responsibility for taking yourself to the next level. She bought an Excel for Dummies book on her way home from the interview and spent 3 days learning it
  • Got involved in AAPOR early, introduced to people, felt part of the family in this community
  • A mentor helped guide her, told her to take statistics even though she’d hate it, she would have never done this without him telling her
  • not everyone needs to be quantitative but build your statistical capabilities can open doors professionally, make you more marketable
  • Another mentor let her co-author to get a track record of publications [I like to do this but people are too chicken to take me up on my offers 🙂 ]
  • Geography is important – where you live affects your career, a one career man can move their family and no one thinks of it. A household with two professionals doesn’t work that way. Hard to move back to DC, where she’d love to be now that they are settled elsewhere.
  • Smell the roses.

Mollyann Brodie

  • Careers seem linear and well planned when you look back at them but during the process, they aren’t. Every decision is unclear along the way.
  • Followed interests and passion at each decision point, trusted instinct of what felt like the right fit
  • In grad school, the course track is clear – which courses to take. But she took a path that wasn’t so clear.
  • Try to identify your skills, organization, people person, “committee girl”, managing egos, getting things done, it’s more than being an analyst
  • She is harder on herself than anyone else, don’t let it stop you, assess your own performance as other would, don’t over criticize, give credit where credit is do, don’t be embarrased by your own success
  • There are normally multiple mentors. Those who give you opportunities. Successful people you watch how they act and treat others, you don’t need to have a mentor role to mentor, people are simply watching. Third group of people who make you say I will not do that, and they can be the most powerful shapers.
  • Leaders need to be conscious of challenges of our people to maintain work and family responsibilities, work life balance, be fair and honest about flexibility with the whole team, there is a cost to picking up the slack but it is important to do
  • Managing maternity leaves is the right thing to do even though it is stressful for everyone, you get a conscientious team who know you value them, the work place needs to be more conscious of balancing life so we are more well-rounded
  • Don’t be in such a hurry, there is no rush. You work for a really long time. Worst mistake she made was to end a job and start a new job in another city in a couple of days.
  • Take more vacations.

Nancy Mathiowetz

  • The journey isn’t linear
  • Went to the school where she was beginning her grad degree and asked if they had a job – even though they don’t normally hire newbies. She asked to work for free and they eventually found money for her. Through this she realized she was in the wrong program and switched her Phd program
  • Left school ABD (all but dissertation), 2 years later, an employer gave her 25% of time to finish her Phd
  • Path looks crazy but make opportunities yourself, you don’t need to explain yourself
  • Have a range of mentors
  • Her spouse was very supportive, believed in 50/50
  • Invest in support services you always have care for kids/whomever. One person shouldn’t just automatically stay home.
  • Consider full lives for women AND men. It’s not just kids, it’s aging parents. Maternity you can plan, but a sick parent can’t be planned. Work hard for these policies at your workplace.
  • The right to be at the table comes with the skill set – learn statistics.
  • Lobby at a higher level that allow everyone to have a full integration of their life
  • Have a ten year plan and revisit it every day. Where do you want to sit ten years from now and how do you want to get there. You don’t have to stick to it but consider what you need to do to get to where you want to be.
  • Time is precious, spend it wisely.

Live both the length and width of your life

  • Male leaders don’t necessarily worry about making everyone happy, just move forward at all times
  • Play to your strengths, figure out what they are, ask others what they think your strengths are, you might not recognize what other people naturally see in you
  • Other women business owners face the same challenges, you can be insecure with them if you need to, use them as your support network
  • Honour everyone’s choice, regardless of the path, even people who want to step back from advancement
  • Maybe you don’t play par but you do play through – think about raising kids and your career
  • If something is too hard, maybe it’s just important, you don’t know what is coming so just play through
  • “I never take a vacation in June because that’s when they talk about budget”
  • [Funny audience member asked if she could ask two questions. Don’t men just ask 5 questions in a row without asking?  Pardon the extreme stereotyping there. 🙂 Her question was about gumption.]
  • Can you teach people to step up, speak up? [Based on personal experience – absolutely.]
  • Being asked versus volunteering – opportunities often come when people ask you. [ditto, but i put my name out there so much that people remember my name and then they ask me]
  • Mentees sometimes wait until the next meeting to solve a roadblock – just go ahead and start working on a solution now, don’t wait
  • Teach gumption by instilling confidence, many women think they can’t do statistics but yes they can, women should and deserve to be at the table
  • Self-doubt is part of success
  • Not everyone is committed to your success, help people understand this
  • Being assertive and ambitious are masculine and for women to do this means they are being bitchy, but if they don’t, then they are not a leader
  • You can never please everyone, stop worrying that people are saying mean things because you can’t control that
  • “What other people say is more about them than about you” [interesting….]
  • Men can be mean and get away with it but women are just being cranky. Well, no one should be mean.
  • Imposter syndrome – “I don’t deserve to be here” . You did NOT get this far because you are lucky. Tell them why they matter, why they’ve been asked to the table.
  • “Lift as you climb”

Talent Leadership: Adam Portner, Dan Hess, Diane Jordan, Matt Valle #CASROmanage #MRX

Welcome to this series of live blogs from the CASRO Management Conference in Chicago. All posts appear within minutes after the speaker has finished. Any errors, omissions, or silly side comments are my own.


    • Adam Portner, Senior Vice President, Research Now; Session Moderator
    • Diane Rafferty Jordan, Senior Vice President, MarketTools, Inc.
    • Dan Hess, Co-founder/CEO, Dealradar
    • Matt Valle, Senior Vice President, GfK

    Diane – All about building AND retaining the right team

  • Markettools has been around 14 years, investors were ready to move on.  How would they retain the team as the buy took place in the marketplace.
  • Company change is not just business, it IS person. How will employees take the information about the sale.
  • 3 pillars
    • lots of personalized communication
    • culture of engagement, people do a lot of water cooler talk, wanted to focus people on external, client centric, put this energy to good use
    • recognition and rewards,
  • Managers need to be visible, credible, and sincere. In person as much as you can. The management team must do this. Quarterly town hall meetings, regional meetings, give people the chance to ask questions [nice to hear that this is all stuff Research Now does 🙂 ]
  • Most important piece is allowing mid-levels managers to really understand it and become aligned with what is happening. most of the communication happens AFTER the executive team leaves the room so the other managers must have the competence to discuss.
  • “Why have you stayed for so long” as opposed to “Why are you leaving the company” Answers – clients and career development
  • Monthly case study meetings – the speaker got accolades and everyone else learned more about the company and their tools, feel proud about their company [LOVE this idea]
  • Culture of engagement – Turnover is very high in India, they did a lot of cross functional training. Strategy has been successful. Allowed them to broaden skills without moving up chain of command that didn’t exist. This creates processes for produce improvement as well.
  • Recognition – People are motivated by different things. Some people do NOT like public recognition. [me] Some people want money, some people want more time with their kids (let her train in a different office and bring the kids along for the “holiday”).
  • Think about retention today. You must live it every day. People won’t just start being honest today.
  • Matt Valle
  • Starts with a great slide – a big pile of words and he just reads it. [very funny 🙂 ]
  • Who cares, so what, about talent management? Want to win big, for company, for self, for family.
  • “We hire the person, not the position”
  • Trust Test – When evaluating new people, would I trust this person to give me counsel about my brand, or about the technical aspect if need be? Would P&G hire this person?
  • “Adjacent thinking” – Take people who are close to MR but have a different perspective.
  • Do you want to hire “bodies”? Don’t make the wrong hire just because you need a warm body.
  • 1837 – State of Michigan became 26th state. Queen Victoria ascended to throne. P&G opened it’s doors. P&G is still the best of the best after 100 years.
  • P&G is known for innovation. Floride in toothpaste, diapers. They say their core strength is consumer knowledge. What consumer company says THAT!
  • Do we want people who “do their job and then leave”. Accountability and ownership is a big issue. How do we instill ownership in the team.
  • Exposure – when people do a great job, shout it from the mountaintops. When you let your own light shine, you give others the permission to do the same.
  • Consistency is important [hear the theme?]
  • Incentives are important [the theme is really coming through!]
  • Consistency and incentives are daily issues.
  • Dan Hess
  • Don’t lose sight of fact that the rank and file of the companies, there are huge opportunities untapped, people are locked into a comfort zone
  • LON – Local Offer Network, deal/offer company
  • Wise words of an early mentor – don’t send me piles of numbers, make a recommendation. Never send a message without a recommendation.
  • Big data and brilliance – Researchers, data equations, numbers. Big revenue – Consultants, tools, the final solution. [ouch!] People at junior levels need to learn how to apply numbers beyond the traditional way they’ve been learned.
  • “It is better to be vaguely right than precisely wrong.”
  • Risks – exclusion from the most important decisions, research becoming an expensive paperweight, boutiques become attractive for add-on projects, innovation is squelched
  • Hire human beings – seek the elusive data junkie who plays guitar in a garage band
  • Empathy goes a long way, it can’t be taught but it can be influenced
  • Forbid mindless data dumps unless requested
  • Encourage teams to take reasonable risks
  • Adam Portner
  • Merging of two companies and brands – e-rewards and research now, doubled the number of employees. Moving headquarters from a public company to a private company. 17 cities world-wide.
  • Biggest challenge – how to best led hundreds of talented employees through the integration
  • keys to success
    • create something new, it must feel like a marriage of the best parts
    • execs must be deeply involved to instill confidence and commitment
    • create certainly quickly with clear and direct answers to eliminate secrets, rumors
  • HR issues
    • Properly manage the people, account for impact on emotions and expectations
    • monitor employee satisfaction, conduct frequent surveys [of course!]
    • get employees involved at all levels so everyone feels comfortable to seek answers
  • Try secondments – temporary assignment in different jobs, let people try out a new office, a new role and meet new people. Create an we instead of an us and them.
  • Cultural integration guidelines
    • Client communication to ensure they feel valued and can continue to expect high quality service
    • Vision and strategy communication so employees understand the vision and value of the merger
    • Systems integration to everyone uses the same evaluations, rewards, standards
  • [a lot of this information was taught to RN from Denison Consulting]
  • Integration goals
    • maintain intense focus on customers
    • don’t overstress capabilities
    • stay focused on value drivers
    • maintain stability of the management team
  • Group discussion now
  • Is it culture or is it motivating people? [LOVE this question. highly debatable] You have to know what change is the last straw for people.
  • What do you hire for versus what do you train for? [i don’t hire a young person who doesn’t know excel. sure i can train them but they obviously have no interest in data if they don’t already know something about excel]
  • Paradox of rewards – the more flexibility you have, a reward system can make people become mercenary

A New Definition of Thought Leadership

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I used to think I knew what thought leadership was. Someone who had brilliant ideas. Someone who could almost see the future. Someone who thought of things that no one else did. Someone whose ideas were stunningly amazing and left you with jaws gaping.

I’ve come to realize I was wrong. It’s none of those things. It has nothing to do with new or original or mindblowing or amazing. It has nothing to do with being incredibly smart or futuristic or psychic.

So what is a thought leader? A thought leader is someone who listens to other people and hears their ideas. Thought leaders notice when the same ideas pop up over and over again. Thought leaders notice things that other people keep talking about but never seem to do anything about. Thought leaders speak up.

What it means is that anyone can be a thought leader. You don’t have to be Steve Jobs or Martin Luther King to be a thought leader. You just have to be passionate about something and speak up. Write that tweet. Write that blog post. Talk to your boss. Whatever you do, just speak up.

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.

***                                                                                                          ***

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...

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    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.

Neal and Toplansky: Thought Leaders Debate #MRA_AC #MRX

Illustration of Facebook mobile interface

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Session summary of the Marketing Research Association 2011 annual conference. These are my interpretations of the session. They were written during the session and posted immediately afterward. Any inaccuracies and silliness are my own.

Keynote: Thought Leaders Debate
William Neal, SDR Consulting
Marshall Toplansky, WiseWindow


  • How far removed are we from people who fund the research? Probably 2 people. They have started putting their internal costs online. Started real-time assessment of competitive market, lead time generation, closure as with Comscore. Have not looked at consumer sentiment data until now. People are now focused on short-term measures, this promotion yesterday, competitor today. Money is coming out of MR because MR is too slow. We like to provide insights but they have no value, no currency beyond marketing ghetto, the people who are playing around with messaging, colors, those people are being more marginalized.


  • Technology has had an impact and it has reallocated funds. We need to remember what differentiates us. Gobs of data is not the solution. We base our work on science, essential, necessary. Survey method, of course has flaws, criticized for corporate execution. WHAT is going on, WHY is that happening? New technology does not address this. 20 million respondents may say one thing but you must ask is that representative of your target market? Millions of hits are not likely to be highly representative. Large groups of people are not and may never be in social media. (What, and everyone answers survey?) Our role is to be voice of arbitrator in C-Suite. Money comes from CMO and we work for the marketing folks. CMO doesn’t have permanent seat in C-suite. SMR may mislead us and consequences will be significant. What are our roots? Be voice of customer. Work for financial folks, not marketing folks. Sales function vs marketing function, push vs pull. Sales is short term, marketing is long term. SMR is not key, it is one part of it. (Phew, i was starting to get upset!)


  • This is not quant vs SMR. It’s about empirically read mass observation, correlate sales numbers, real-time data. We are not in C-suite because we don’t even talk that language. We can’t translate consumer preference into a continuous flow of data. SMR is one technique, not only technique. If we ignore SMR, we’re going back to the middle ages of quill pens.


  • What should we measure for corporate well-being and growth? Must pay attention to brand equity. Must manage at C-suite level. False indicators may be sentiment. He has not seen any quant SMR data (HELLO! I’M RIGHT HERE!!!) It must be valid, reliable, and sufficient to bet on to do things differently. (I had to get up and ask a question here – 600 million people are on facebook, 3% of the world answer surveys. What does rep mean to you?)


  • People are working on the social media research method right now. All methods get worked on and improved by having the smartest scientists working on it. He mentions more people are tweeting than will read the Alert article. (Dang right! Plus this blog and anyone else who will blog the session.) This is how people express themselves. You’re a stick in the mud if you don’t jump on it.


  • He is a strong advocate of mixed mode methods. (He should have come to my session yesterday where I showed how to use SMR, Surveys, and Cell together.) He wants rep samples. (NONE of market research is really rep samples.) We don’t capture all kinds of people, older, lower income, laggards, there are lots of these techno-phobes. We shouldn’t walk away from the technology. (Agreed. Since when did surveys capture all people? I don’t answer my home phone so how is your “rep” RDD?)


  • Social media interaction for a small business is great, bulletin board style. Lots of richness. Must use best practices of research methods, do not bias, don’t lead the witness, pull a good sample. (Damn right) Methodology can be completely different.


  • Worry about perception that SMR is quantitative. (Ouch! Seriously, come see what we do William! 100% quants, scales, norms, sampling, weighting.)


  • Representativeness is crap. This comes out of old media industry. Which demographic segment should I target, we allege we require. It reflects what we can buy in media. Marketers want to go to social segments, not demographic segments. They just want to find them behaviorally. Do we care if segment is 12.3% vs 9.7% of population? No. Let’s go after similarly looking people. People talking about my product is representativeness, not demo rep.


  • Brand hand raising is representative, he agrees. Demos as basis for representativeness should have died a long time ago. We don’t lack tools to look at data and model from it. People aren’t aware of these tools. Corporate research depts don’t know tools well enough to know to use them. We have a knowledge problem, not just a money problem. (I agree we have a knowledge problem.)


  • Huge believer in multi-mode methods. Traditional methods can never be replaced. We need better ways of gathering data quickly, immediately. MR is just too slow and too expensive.


  • Can’t be too dependent on  high levels of qual data. Not sure if it will give us the right decision. Doesn’t believe any data is better than no data. Any data may be wrong. It’s high risk. We need risk reduction which comes from multiple sources.


  • People don’t necessarily lie in their profiles but they just don’t tell you. People don’t put correct age in Facebook. (I don’t. I’m usually born in 1930 when I sign up for things online.) Maybe 10% of people give you geography. We need to solve this problem. Will facebook make money by selling profiles with proper privacy? Yes.


  • It’s not that people lie, they are just not being candid. Yes, people lie on surveys but that is not bigger problem. Candidness is. We need to do a lot more investigation. Don’t see if SMR will ever have sufficient validity and reliability to be predictive. (Dude, read the literature. People are already proving this.)


  • 120 million facebook comments per month – this is the law of large numbers. Strong correlations between what they say and what they actually do in terms of sales is. Outliers are bled out in the volume of data. There are thousands of mommy blogs, people talking about underage children who aren’t allowed to go online. Children are represented online. We don’t need specific lines/channels of people.
  • William – Cascade effect of social media may or may not reflect reality. Facebook is “going with the herd.”
  • Neal – This is how people influence others.
  • William – Cascade changes reality of the percent. 35% becomes 65% because of influences and cascade. It’s not reality.
  • Neal – There are strong correlations between market share of opinion and market share of real world.
  • William – I need the last word. Watch out for herd effects. SMR is just another tool. Don’t overuse it.

Follow the Leader

I’ve had a number of managers throughout my career. They told me what my hours were, when I could take my holidays, and what my most pressing tasks were. Sometimes, I learned new skills from them, such as how to evaluate an MMPI profile to determine if a police candidate would be suitable for hire or how to put together a report using the company’s powerpoint template.

However, I didn’t often look to my boss as a leader. I didn’t always listen with rapture about their ethical viewpoint on privacy in research or how they interpret the fine line between statistical precision and statistics in real life. You see, though their official job title may have been “Manager” or “Director” or “Research Leader,” that didn’t automatically make them a leader.

To me, “Leader” is a word that is given by people who don’t necessarily have power to describe someone who gives them power. It is a word to be treasured and sought. A word that describes very few people though it should describe very many people.  A leader is someone who is looked up to by their colleagues, whether those colleagues are further up or further down the totem poll. A leader makes other people want to do a better job and be a better person.

We don’t need more managers at work. We need more leaders.

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