Principles Research

A Cautionary Tale for Market Research

The festive period reminded me of the importance of taking time to stop and think. To pause and reflect. While driving home after visiting family I listened to one of Tim Harford’s Cautionary Tales podcasts.

The theme of the podcast was that we need to make time to think critically about our decisions. We shouldn’t rush ahead even if we see evidence that seems to back up our hunch. We should ask more questions, discuss and deliberate, to ensure we are making the right move.

We have swathes of data in front of us. But what does it all really mean?

Harford told a 2,000 year-old story of King Croesus of Lydia who consulted the oracle at Delphi. The oracle told him that if he invaded Persia (as he wanted to) it would lead to the demise of a mighty empire. Emboldened by the oracle, King Croesus had the data he needed to make his big decision and invaded. Sadly for Croesus, the empire that fell was his own.

Listening to the tale at the end of the holiday period helped me to reflect on the impact that taking time out to think can have. It also reminded me of some of the best work we have done with our clients.

We provide data points, we assess the implications of the data and provide our view on the most appropriate actions that should be taken, but often the greatest value comes from debating and discussing our different interpretations of the data.

We have swathes of data in front of us, but what does it mean? Taking time to analyse, discuss and debate the implications of qualitative or quantitative data is where the gold lies. So in 2020 we’ll be encouraging more of our clients to take time out to think, assess and discuss along with us so that we can all make better decisions.

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