Future Casting and Driving Impact

Corporate and partner side researchers are so grateful for the firehose of content and the availability of colleagues at the Insights Association Corporate Researcher’s Conference (CRC) Oct 20-22. CRC is known as the conference for corporate researchers thanks to its safe peer interaction, practical advice, and readily implementable takeaways, including:

Gain Foresight:

  • Insights must have a seat at the table, not just be listed on the menu. Stan Sthanuanathan from Unilever explored the macro forces and trends driving this change, and encouraged us to be brave, provoke, be fact-based (but not fact filled), create a story to inspire (and not impress), challenge the status quo, and be a change agent.
  • Oscar Yuan, of Ipsos Strategy 3 said “Life is uncertain. Don’t operate without scenario planning.” We can’t truly forecast, so we need to set up several plausible scenarios to help our stakeholders to have better foresight, rather than just understanding the past (hindsight) or describing the present (insight).
  • Lisa Courtade from Organon, Melissa Spencer from Merck, and Mark Earls from Herd led a hands-on scenario planning workshop to helped corporate researchers consider how we can drive scenario planning at our organizations, and map how we can incorporate the discipline of scenario planning into our worlds.
  • Gen Z are expected make up 30% of the U.S. workforce in the next 8 years, shares Jamin Brazil founder of HubUX. Get to know them: what they value, their challenges and their perspectives on work. Use that knowledge to reframe your company’s perspective, passion, and obstacles.
  • Scott Hansen, of University of Texas at Arlington encourages his students, alumni, and all of us to personalize our stories, which are often non-linear. Scott also went on to talk about how the weight of our companies’ corporate histories can be too immense and can exclude new generations, so we need to work on helping new generations fit in.

Drive Business Impact:

  • Jackie Chan from Facebook, Lisa Courtade from Organon, and Terrae Schroeder spoke about measuring impact. Specifically, they said, measure Individual (personal fulfillment & recognition), corporate research departmental (elevated role), company (profits, market share, growth) and industry (demand creation) impact. Overcome human challenges (fear, skills gaps). Overcome procedure and process challenges (lack of industry standards, project-based thinking) and overcome communication challenges (measurement, reporting and activation obstacles).
  • Brett Hagins from Research Innovation and ROI is offering a course on driving impact. One of his slides resonated on what we need to focus on to eliminate friction to making impactful recommendations. He elaborates that sometimes research is discarded because it wasn’t started quickly enough to impact a stakeholder’s business decisions. Sometimes specific barriers to implementing a research project’s recommendations make the recommendations ineffective or obsolete. Sometimes stakeholders change their strategy, or a company reorganizes and these changes can render the research ‘un-sponsored’ or ‘out of date.’
  • Relatedly, cooperation is the new competition. Priscilla McKinney from Little Bird Marketing and Crystal Martinez from Fieldwork Anywhere showed the power of bringing people together to re-open face to face (#Facetofacemrx).
  • The need for deeper understanding and strong, clear deliverables is more important than ever, as shared in Bianca Pryor and Epiphany Espinosa’s poignant keynote speech on research they did for BET Network. They talked about understanding Black content and positive Black representation (depth of characters with story variety). The writer may be the most critical to telling authentic black stories, but also important are the director, casting director, producer, hair stylist, composer/musical editor, costume designer, and makeup artist. To viewers, black content isn’t Bridgerton so much as it is the hit show Power.

There’s a real jubilance to seeing our research colleagues, whether in person again or virtually. Melanie Courtright asked us to uplift one another, and to be helpful and not harmful. Respect our research subjects and their rights. Be transparent about the collection of personal data and only collect it with consent and confidentiality/security (do no harm), act with high standards of integrity, professionalism, and transparency in all relationships and practices and comply. Further, if you know someone who needs a job, help them (we’re hiring!). Think about the privilege of operating within an $80B+ industry and help one another be responsible, inclusive, and equitable.

Thanks to Melanie Courtright, Tim Hoskins, Lauren Demar, Scott Baker, Art Flanagan, Jen Cattel, and so many others who made this hybrid conference so successful.

Do you want to learn more? Be an active member of Insights Association and join your peers in virtual or in person conferences. Not a member? Join now!