There is a changing emphasis on customer interaction and the importance of embracing uncertainty in your organization. In an interview in the MIT Sloan Management Review with Michael Schrage on Value-Creation, Experiments and Why IT does Matter, he stated:
“The cost of experimentation is now the same or less than the cost of analysis. You can get more value for time, more value for dollar, more value for Euro, by doing a quick experiment than from doing a sophisticated analysis. In fact, your quick experiment can make your sophisticated analysis better.”
Later in the interview, in answer to the question, “Can you summarize the three things you think companies need to get good at?” Michael Schrage also stated:
The most important thing I would urge companies to do would be to experiment, by crafting good business hypotheses. I can now look executives in the eye and say, “The cost of experimentation is now the same or less than the cost of analysis. You can get more value for time, more value for dollar, more value for euro, by doing a quick experiment than from doing a sophisticated analysis. In fact, your quick experiment can make your sophisticated analysis better
The second is to promote greater collaboration, interaction, and diversity—not politically-correct diversity, but diversity of skills and points of view.
And the third is to think more clearly about innovation. It’s no longer about creating new features and functionality. We have to move away from the notion of innovation being about greater creation of choice. Instead, it’s about greater value from use.
To paraphrase from an outstanding book, Everything Is Obvious: *Once You Know the Answer:
Most of us (marketers) have more data than we know what to do with. The real problem that exists is what we are doing causing increased sales or what we are measuring is the correlation between the two.
Differentiation between correlation and causation can be extremely difficult. The authors recommend running an experiment. Without an experiment they conclude that it’s actually close to impossible to ascertain cause and effect, and as a result measure real return.
They view experiments not as a one-time exercise that either yields the answer or doesn’t, but rather as part of an ongoing learning process that is built into the process.
Iterative Cycles seems to be the buzz word these days: Just look at the new books:
- The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses
- Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge from Small Discoveries
- Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers
- Gamestorming: A Playbook for Innovators, Rulebreakers, and Changemakers
- This is Service Design Thinking: Basics – Tools – Cases
- Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with Failure
- The Toyota Way to Continuous Improvement: Linking Strategy and Operational Excellence to Achieve Superior Performance
- Open Services Innovation: Rethinking Your Business to Grow and Compete in a New Era
All of them focusing on iterations but they are fundamentally just PDCA (Plan–Do–Check–Act). Test a hypothesis, improve on it and test it again. Marketing is about moving along the cycles of EDCA = Explore, PDCA = Plan, and SDCA = Standardize. Sometimes you may not uneven use a full cycle but rather use more of a game environment half-cycle version of Inspect and Adapt (IA). These iterative process are simply responding to the ever increasing world of uncertainty that we live in.
Iterative cycles are best handled through team interactions. Decisions made in isolation seldom have a chance of success. And isolation means your organization, not an individual. You have to gather outside influencers from the markets you serve. To do this, the team must be empowered and schooled with the new toolset. You can find these new sets of tools by researching subjects like: Design Thinking, Cynefin, Value Networks, Open Innovation, Co-creation, Lean Startup, Service-Dominant Logic, Q-Storming, Game Storming, and Kanban.
The tools used in sales and marketing are certainly changing. Gone are the days of being trained in cold-calling and the art of closing and in are the days of iteration, open innovation, co-creation and collaboration. Funny, I did not even mention social media?