Is it what you do, or just a tool?

20 Jun 2003|Added Value

So, I was creating this PPT deck for a speech at a conference on innovative research techniques, and it got me to thinking, “am I a guy who does cool, innovative techniques, or am I a guy who does something with them?” Doesn’t seem like much of a distinction at first, but there is a “there” there.

I don’t want to be thought of as the “ethno guy,” or the “online focus group guy.” I want to be thought of as someone who has a big toolkit that I can draw from in terms of techniques, and I draw on a specific technique only when there is a clear and compelling need. A clear and compelling need that addresses one of my clients business problems. I think there is value there in that, as much as I don’t want to be the “cookie cutter” technique guy (“take six focus groups over three US markets and call me in the morning”), I also have no interest in doing cool, innovative stuff for it’s own sake. None. It bores me.

It’s like buying new tools/toys for the drums (I’ve been a drummer all my life). There a certain amount of gear lust that all musicians have, and by gosh, when you finally acquire that object of your desire, you wanna just play the hell out of it–let the music be damned. And then, when you get older and (maybe) more mature, you start realizing, that, “yunno, if it doesn’t enhance the tune, it’s value is limited.” Fun = yes. Value = limited. Now I have no problem with having fun, but more and more I get to thinking about using the tools musically and harmoniously when they’re called for and that’s it. Nothing else, just that.

As I get older, I have less and less time for things that create limited value–as fun as they may be (yes, I’m totally sounding like a old guy here). That, to me, is less boring than doing something cool and fun, but ultimately of limited value. I don’t have time for that anywhere in my life. Not anymore.

And so it is for me with innovative research techniques. On one level I feel like some old guy (“whaddya mean you’re not all about innovation, pops?”). But, I think that’s where the real value lies: not force anything on anyone–whether it’s tried and true or just invented it on the spot–that won’t help address their problem. Or not limiting anyone cuz my toolkit is limited–just send them on their way: “I can’t help you, try these other folks. See if they can.”

Now, where’s my walker?

So…what do you think?

prev next