The Creative Analytic Balance

One of the things I really love about what I get to do for a living is developing new and creative ways to help solve our client’s problems using the analytic and methodological tools we have as marketing researchers.

"We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them."

Albert Einstein 

Fortunately, I’m surrounded by people here at Marketing Workshop who feel the same way. To me, as business challenges evolve, especially as quickly as they do in today’s environment, it is incumbent upon the research community to keep up with that change through equally evolved solutions. I’m reminded of what Albert Einstein said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” Maybe phrased a little differently, we cannot solve 21st century problems with only 20th century solutions.


A great advantage of being part of – or doing business with – a firm like ours is that we are nimble and our analytic solutions can be more customized and creative. There are several reasons for this. First, we don’t have high-priced, “packaged” solutions that we force fit to solve the problems that our clients bring to us. Second, our senior level leaders are involved in nearly every project, which provides them with an ongoing feel for the latest challenges facing organizations. Combined with their previous experience, it lends itself well to generating new, custom and creative solutions. Learning how to create a customized solution by piecing different tools together is challenging, but also incredibly rewarding when you see the results.


Over the last several months, we have spent a good deal of time on internal R&D. We have developed not just new approaches to solve problems, but also new applications for older approaches. When business is moving as quickly as it is, the luxury does not exist to just sit back and keep doing the same old things. This innovation process is what we’re finding our clients especially appreciate. And the best part of this might even be that it keeps people’s minds fresh. It keeps folks engaged and interested. You can visibly see the energy level of our team increase as we discuss a new approach or application, or even just a new way of visually displaying a process we’ve done for years!


Now, the word balance is in the title of this article for a reason. When you talk about being “creative” in a discipline that leverages statistics greatly, you must be careful. There are, of course, limits to this creativity. There are certain laws, rules and other methodological principles that cannot be ignored. I’m reminded of a story that applies perfectly in this situation... A dad brought his son to his soccer game. All the players were there, but no referees had arrived. After a while, it was decided that the game must start and the dad volunteered, along with some other dads, to help officiate. The only problem was that the dads had no idea what the rules were! It was utter chaos. The kids kept looking to the dads for guidance, but got nothing. No one was having fun – the kids, the dads or any of the spectators. Finally, the real referees showed up and started the game anew. Chaos turned into order and fun was then had by all.


I see “creative analytics” in a similar light. As long as we stay within the rules; if we play within the boundaries that have been long established for proper “play”, then everyone will have fun. For those of us building the solutions, the fun is in the construction. The fun is in the creative use of analytic tools in new ways. The fun is keeping our work fresh and exciting. For those we build them for – our clients – the fun is in turning their research into improved business results. The fun, is becoming more successful, both individually and in their competitive space.
So, don’t be afraid to look at your business problems through a new lens. Don’t be afraid to attempt a new approach. Sometimes the tried-and-true is good, but custom and creative might be even better!

~ Bud Sanders

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