Search Blog

Use Research to Add Foxes to Your Hedgehogs

A year of political polling, talking heads and pundits have given a bad name to forecasting and forecasters – especially the segment known as hedgehogs. But for all their flaws hedgehogs can guide their organizations as well, perhaps better, than their counterparts – the foxes. In truth, successful organizations have a mix of both. The research and literature of the science and art of forecasting divides the world into hedgehogs and foxes. The labels and definitions come from an essay by philosopher Isaiah Berlin.

Read More

Design Thinking in Research

Although it’s been around for decades, Design Thinking is enjoying a burst of heightened awareness as recent articles and books advocate the approach for everything from reaching corporate objectives, to developing advertising and value propositions, to achieving your personal New Year’s resolutions. As a research firm we applaud this reawakening of the value of design thinking – its principles have always been a central part of thoughtful primary research designs.

Read More

Better Forecasting with Historical Data and Judgment

A recent article on forecasting presents historical data and judgment as an either-or choice. We disagree. In our view, the art of forecasting requires both and the understanding of how much weight to place on each depending on the circumstances.

Read More

Spurious Correlations: Shark attacks and sales at all-you-can-eat buffets

Did you know that the Total Revenue Generated by Arcades correlates with the Number of Computer Science Doctorates awarded in the United States? Makes sense, right Hold on before you start using this fact to impress people at cocktail parties. It comes from Tyler Virgen’s website Spurious Correlations (which is also available as a book on Amazon). Virgen’s mines data and plays with the X and Y axes to create ridiculous but fun correlations such as the link between margarine consumption and divorce rates in Maine and the link between drownings in pools and movies starring Nicholas Cage.

Read More

Unintended consequences of empathy: A new Golden Rule for marketers

Making an effort to imagine yourself in your customers’ shoes may give you a false sense that you understand what your customers want. This counter intuitive statement stems from research conducted by Johannes Hattula of London’s Imperial College and his colleagues. Fortunately there are steps you can take to ensure you are not projecting your opinions onto your customers.

Read More

Don’t throw out the data along with the failed concept

Product management and marketing teams often use primary research to test new product and service concepts. Before investing millions of dollars and years of development efforts they want to know if the concept has legs. Sometimes the research shows that the market does not have enough appetite for the concept to justify further investment. At that point the research has done its job. But often the results can provide additional value to the organization that is forgotten.

Read More

Overcoming the skeptics – Turning research into action

One of the challenges with customer satisfaction and NPS surveys is turning the results into strategic and tactical actions. This post provides some steps that can help address this challenge.

Read More

Overcoming Groupthink

In their book Wiser: Getting Beyond Groupthink to Make Groups Smarter Cass R. Sunstein of the  Harvard Law School and Reid Hastie at of University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business provide an explanation of the causes of groupthink and offer practical steps organizations can take to overcome them. Their observations and recommendations align with how we at Isurus view the risks of groupthink associated with focus groups and the concrete actions we take to avoid it.

Read More

Does statistical significance matter in the real world?

To make a claim more believable simply add a chart – that is the key finding of a study by Aner Tal and Brian Wansink of Cornell University. Their research shows that people find data presented in a chart more believable because they associate charts with science. Their findings shed some light on the artificial importance sometimes placed on statistics in quantitative B2B research.

Read More

Amplified experience: What is it and does it occur in focus groups?

A common concern with focus groups is group think. In most cases what appears to be groupthink is actually poor moderation – the moderator fails to control dominating personalities and elicit comments from the quiet ones. Beyond being strong moderators to further combat the possibility of group think Isurus includes individual exercises in most focus groups. This ensures we collect feedback from everyone and provides the more timid participants with a stick in the ground they can stand by when aggressive participants try to sell their point of view.

Read More