Former Deputy Supreme Commander of Europe, General Sir Richard Shirreff, recently spoke at the MRS Impact Conference discussing how strategic thinkers should respond to unpredictable events. Whilst his speech was focused on war and gender based violence, his message that “you can’t design strategy unless you understand the minds of the people, the environment and the landscape” relates especially well to us as market researchers.
Unpredictable and unforeseen events can throw everything – be it a company, a system, a lifestyle, etc. – into chaos. The old systems that worked in the past no longer cut it, and new strategies must be implemented to overcome the crisis. By utilising strategic thinking in the face of a crisis, effective and innovative change can be brought about. In market research we deal a lot with the subject of ‘change’ and one thing is abundantly clear: people don’t like change.
“you can’t design strategy unless you understand the minds of the people, the environment and the landscape”
This all reminds me of the adage “never waste a good crisis”. In the absence of a crisis, people are usually very resistant to change – “if it ain’t broken, why fix it?” However, this point of view prohibits even the possibility innovation and improvement. The disarray caused by unpredictable events is the perfect opportunity to implement change. Strategic thinking must be utilised to implement change, but it must also be underpinned by deep insight.
“Only a crisis, actual or perceived, produces real change” – Milton Friedman
As Sir Richard stated in his keynote address, “strategy requires a deep understanding of the problem at hand”. This is where market research comes in – proper in-depth research providing deep insight into people’s minds, environments, behaviours, actions, cultures and societies, allows for the development of an effective strategy to become proactive to any current and future challenges. Consequently making the most of a good crisis to implement change, and buffer against future unpredictable events.
The QRi Team x