On a big reading “catch up” over the long weekend, I read two blogs posts that caught my attention:
- The first was Seth Godin’s Are you doing math or arithmetic? This blog post resonated because my degree is in mathematics. [Side comment: The best way to horrify your math professor is to refer to basic arithmetic activities like addition or fractions as “mathematics.” Mathematics has nothing to do with computation at a certain level. It’s about taking your facts (called axioms), and applying pure logic to come up with a proof. Knowing that something is unarguably true or false – that is the real beauty of mathematics!]
- I also read Ivana Taylor’s challenging blog post about the future of market research firms. Ivana beautifully outlined the decreasing value that exists in collecting information – it’s simply too easy to do that these days.
So the question: where is the value – or the “mathematics” as Seth Godin would say – that clients pay research firms good money for.
The massive report that shows everything is not it. It’s not that difficult to spew the data from the information gathering phase into a document. It does provide value to the internal people who take the time to read and absorb the details and is not a step that should be skipped. But let’s face it, that part is the “arithmetic.”
There is a point in every research project where you have to take those massive amounts of information, gathered over a huge number of interactions, and figure out how to communicate what matters in a one-hour, or a 30- minute or even a 10-minute meeting.
This is where the value is found – in using the information to build a compelling story. This is the “mathematics” of research. Creating the story of reality in a way that is understood and actionable by a wide audience.
Very easy to say. Very, very difficult to do. Extremely high value when you do it.