Article -> Research Should Be Backing Up Decisions
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Date Added: September 2007
As we enter the planning time for next year’s budgets, leaders should review the success of prior projects. To know if you’re getting what you paid for, it must be measured. Determining return-on-investment (ROI) is to measure impact on corporate strategy.
Successful organizations understand the link between decisions and strategy. Hit-or-miss tactics neither support nor sabotage strategy, yet can yield erratic results. Disciplined actions are driven by corporate strategy, producing a higher ROI. The difference is using research to guide strategic decisions.
Leaders make strategic business decisions without research. However, how do they know if these are the right decisions to impact strategy? The best strategies are based on facts to validate or challenge direction.
Research helps organizations define the right customers, the right products and services, the right industries and markets, and the right processes. In-depth communication with customers reveals valuable insights to drive decisions and overall strategic direction.
One such insight is knowing customers may not always be completely honest. A small business owner recently partnered with an independent firm to speak with her best customers – recognizing they would be more truthful with a third party. Once the customer feedback was incorporated into the strategic plan, the business owner said, “I’ve asked, I’ve listened and I’ve learned; now I must act.”
Inevitably, you control your organizational direction. If your best customers cite a particular core strength, make this a strategic focus. If they repeatedly voice product or service dissatisfaction, it’s time to act.
Listen to your customers through the many forms of research. Examples of quantitative research include electronic surveys and telephone questionnaires – useful when addressing specific topics. Qualitative research includes focus groups or face-to-face interviews – vital when tackling broad issues and needing detailed information. This may include the perceptions of the general public as people you do not typically “touch.”
With the goal of maximizing profitability, organizations should be poised to deliver. All people should innovate new products, services and processes; working together to achieve goals. Enhanced processes lead to more effective budgets – and more emotionally engaged customers and employees.
Strengthening customer relationships should be a strategic goal. If tactics fail to align with strategy, know this before execution, not after. To help guide your organization, external resources play an integral role in developing a successful strategy – one that doesn’t overlook research.
Reduce risks and create opportunities. With supporting rationale affirmed by research, your organization’s strategy will proactively determine your next move – before your competition.
This article was published in the Green Bay Press-Gazette on September 16, 2007.