A few weeks ago, I posted an article about how people use lies and trickery to con us into believing untruths. It referenced two University of Washington professors who are teaching students how to defend themselves in a course named Calling Bullshit: Data Reasoning in a Digital World. Readership rose dramatically, indicating a sudden surge in people wanting to learn how to tell good information from bad, right? Could be. Maybe it was something else, though. That week the title of my post was “Calling Bullshit.” This was the first time I used an expletive in the headline, so perhaps that drove the surge in traffic. I decided to conduct an experiment by writing another post with bullshit in the title. And as long as I was writing about bullshit, the old chestnut is “write what you know,” so I did.
Most market research is bullshit, and some of it I did myself
In graduate school I learned volumes about statistics and methods and sampling, but no one taught me how to plan a project from soup to nuts. As a research apprentice, I followed someone else’s instructions, because everything important had been fully attended to. It took me years to develop the journeyman skills needed to design research that meets the needs of the business. Even with advanced training and experience, I made many mistakes along the way.
Clients had no better understanding of how to integrate research into their organizational strategies than I did
Gradually, I learned it was crucial to invest front-end time with study sponsors, showing them the things that make the difference between good studies and bad ones. Armed with a better background and fuller context, they were able to easily avoid the first few misinformation traps.
Not everyone shared my philosophy
When my manager chastised me for working too long and too hard on a client’s study and insisted I make less than a full effort in the future, I quit. They had no difficulty finding a replacement to work faster and cheaper.
Cutting corners means ignoring rules and using less effort, time and money than necessary to accomplish the task properly
When the race for cheaper and faster made it impossible to compete with slapdash bottom-feeders who cut every possible corner, I quit doing research.
How to get the trustworthy customer, competitor and market facts you need
Find someone to tell you where you are doing well, where you need improvement, and where you need to be doing something entirely different.
How to avoid misinformation traps
Decision-makers don’t need to be research experts to upgrade their organization’s knowledge-management IQ. All they need to learn is:
- How to tell good research from bad.
- What questions to ask and how to assess the answers people give you.
- How to scope research and allocate resources.
- How to select, manage, and evaluate research vendors.
- How to mandate process rigor and output quality.
Want to look at old things in new ways, see the commonplace in greater detail and hear complex subject matter explained in simple, conversational language?
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