Turning raw consumer data into actionable insights is sometimes as mysterious as the process that produces pure white, creamy milk from grasses and grains in the three stomachs of a cow. And, if only it were that easy, we’d all have an endless supply of cash cows.
I am sure that if we could, we’d all hire Rumpelstiltskin to work the magic of turning market research straw into actionable insights gold like this cartoon from Kevin Miller of Innovation Focus depicts.
The analogy that I like to use for turning consumer data into actionable insights comes from how the first Australians made fire. As hunters and gatherers, which is a good way to describe those of us who do voice of the customer research, the Aborigines would find a dry tree limb and make a groove in it as the base. They would fashion a strong round piece of the hardest wood they could find like a thick knitting needle. Then they would pick up some dry tinder, like fragments of dry bark, and place that around the hard stick placed in the groove. Then they would apply a lot of friction by rubbing the stick back and forth between their hands until sparks flew and the tinder caught fire.
For the new product development team looking for insights, the dry tree limb is synonymous with the task with its research design to collect data. The strong round piece of the hardest wood available is the cross-functional project team. The dry tinder is data, all kinds of data. The friction is the processes used to analyze and synthesize that data until the sparks of insight fly and catch the fire of action.
The moral of this analogy is that the sparks of insight are only likely to catch the fire of action if and when a project team is fully engaged in all steps of the process. And that requires time and sweat equity. Companies that don’t encourage that kind of investment end up with a lot of tinder and very little fire.