Forget innovation, start to optimise – Getting marketing insight the solution focused way

“Well, I propose that most of our market research bypasses real ‘innovation’ (new approaches that create disproportionate value by combining ways of working or technologies) and concentrates instead on ‘optimisation’ (small improvements to what we’re already doing).”
Martin Bailie, Head of Planning @ Glue London

That’s a very solution focused approach to communication and marketing, if you ask me.

If you have ever tried to plan a marketing or communication campaign, you’ll know. You can plan as far as you like, you’ll still have to deal with the challenges of today before you can tackle those of tomorrow. This maxim still holds through, despite our current insights in technology, statistics and research.

“We rely on pricey and protracted up-front planning.
But planning, even keeping best practices in mind, is just guessing.”

It made Martin Bailie wonder whether we’d need another new technology, or just a new approach of gaining insights. He chose the latter. Forget about the superman-kind of insight, let’s design an approach to get good at gaining the superbly human-kind of insight.

Ok, we need a long term plan (visions are still important). But let’s get rid of the idea that by looking hard at this immediate-response-communication-system we have right now, we can predict or discover innovation at face value. Let’s use this network for optimising and through an incremental series of optimisations, let’s innovate.

So Bailie calls for “flexible guessing”:

“So from a planning perspective (as a buyer as well as collator of insight), I’d beg the following of our industry: Support ‘Flexible guessing’
If plans are there to be broken, let’s use scenarios. Let’s propose what might happen, then adopt agile methodology to change what we do on the fly.”

This quote reminds me of Steve de Shazer’s credo:

  • “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”
  • “find out what works works and do more of it”
  • “if it doesn’t work, try something else”

combined with one of Insoo Kim Berg’s most famous quotes:

  • “If you want to go fast, go slow”

Bailie’s post got elected “Post of the Month” at Neil Perkin’s  blog Only Dead Fish. It may be a little exaggerated, but still, it shows how the small step approach to change is gaining more and more support within the marketing and communication community as well. As a solution focused coach, dealing with how communication and marketing can help people change, I can only be happy with articles like those of Martin Bailie.

Read the full article at Bailie’s blog.

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