From early education to the professional workplace, we’re sorted into two buckets: scientist or poet, analyst or artist, math and science or humanities and social studies. In effect, people are categorically steered toward areas of focus...
"Numbers have an important story to tell. They rely on you to give them a clear and convincing voice."Stephen Few
...and work that emphasize their natural left- or right-brain tendency. Not surprisingly, those who demonstrate strong left-brain skills excel in business. Detail-oriented, process-driven, logical, and analytic; these traits are highly valued. The right-brain dominant person may instead find themselves drawn to creative fields or those that rely on intuition and interpersonal skills, such as counseling or teaching. Skills that are traditionally less valued in business, but are essential in society elsewhere.
However, the Information Age has seen a surge in the automation and computerization of many left-brain functions; and the resulting marketplace is calling for business professionals that can apply right-brain processes to left-brain outputs. Daniel Pink, author of A Whole New Mind, describes the shift from “an economy and a society built on the logical, linear, computerlike capabilities of the Information Age to an economy and a society built on the inventive, empathic, big-picture” capabilities of this whole-brain synthesis.
In the field of marketing research, this synthesis should be the natural byproduct of effective research design and thorough research assimilation; and our clients should be able to rely upon us to provide this consultative expertise. Yet, according to the recent 2016 Q3-Q4 GRIT Report this is the service that both insights buyers and suppliers feel least equipped to deliver, citing storytelling and data visualization as the top needs for training and leadership development. I contend that the tendency towards data-myopia among marketing research professionals is an undesirable effect of specialization. As the analytics and methodologies have evolved, requiring more and more technical skills, our teams have become heavy with left-brain dominant analysts, at the expense of more intuitive, creative, big-picture thinkers.
While there’s certainly demand for training in this area, drawing story from data isn’t a skill that’s easily taught in a classroom. Understanding how the data points are interrelated in the context of a client’s business requires a degree of familiarity and experience difficult to attain from the outside.
Yet, in truth, the solution is as simple as the cause: diversification and collaboration within research teams. An effective marketing research firm must necessarily include expert research technicians, but it must also be rounded out by industry professionals with client-side experience, together providing the full context, via rich experience, for whole-brain research consultation. Collaborative dialogue among diverse team members provides for whole-brain synthesis…from which the story organically emerges.
This commitment to collaboration is central to our philosophy at Marketing Workshop. Our team prides itself on seasoned researchers and experienced business professionals joining their creative and strategic strengths to tell the data’s story.
~ Jessica Pryor