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training

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Hip, Hot, Happening, and New

Cross-posted from The Market Research Event Blog!  



It order for us to not become stagnant in our jobs and careers, or career, it’s incumbent upon us to continue to seek out the new things happening in our industry. There are lots of ways to do that, from reading industry publications, attending regional association events, watching webinars, reading blogs, being active on social media, and yes national conferences like TMRE.

No matter what sector of the industry we’re in, from qualitative face-to-face interviewing to ‘big data’ analysis, it’s always helpful to hear what other folks are doing.  Not to say that for example if you’re a small qualitative shop hat you’re going to jump into the deep end of neuromarketing immediately. But you never know: 

What your clients may ask (and it’s good to be informed)
What inspiration you might glean from other companies’ projects
What new product or service you might learn about that would serve your company well

I know I know, we only have so many hours in the day and there can be absolute information overload. 

So figure out what works for you to stay on top of the ‘hot trends’ in the industry.  

Maybe it’s booking some time for yourself each Friday over lunch to watch a recorded webinar. 

Perhaps you hold on to your industry publications and those become airplane reading. 

It could be setting up a few minutes at the beginning and end of each day to check the #mrx Twitter feed.  

And, of course, it could be spending a few ‘concentrated learning’ days at an industry conference such as #TMRE13As luck would have it, the savvy #TMRE13 team has created an entire track called “Disruptive Technologies & New Methodologies” so there’s some concentrated learning right there!

Whatever your method, it’s good for you, your job, and your career to keep your finger on the pulse of the industry.  

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Activate Innovation



Why a penguin? It will make sense in a minute


I have to confess, one of the sessions I am most looking forward to at TMRE is “Creating a culture for Successful Innovation” given by the Campbell Soup Company.

Why? 

Because innovation is so very important to drive a business forward.

But far too often I observe companies requesting (or demanding!) their employees…and specifically their research teams…be innovative, without creating a culture in which innovation is part of the life breath of the organization.

It’s not enough to wish it and it will be so.  Consider some of the below steps to take towards becoming an innovative organization…and then join me for the Campbell Soup Company session at TMRE!

Hire Hungry
When adding to your team, seek out characteristics in potential new hires that lead the way to innovative thinking such as: a propensity for proactivity, openness to new ideas and feedback, and a past track record of measured risk-taking in their former role.  Hire staff that is hungry for new challenges and who are open to learning along the way. For more on characteristics to look for, this is an excellent article.

Reward Risk Taking (and Sometimes Failure)
One of my favorite moments every year at our company is when awards are announced, and my favorite award is the “First Penguin” award.  You may think that’s an odd name, but hear me out.

When a group of penguins approaches an ice shelf, one penguin must be the first to “take the plunge” – aka First Penguin.  There may be sea lions waiting in the water for that first penguin to take the dive, so it’s a risky move that can lead to great success…or great failure.

At our company, the reward goes to a staff member who takes a big risk and innovates with one of our products.  The risk may not lead to great success, but that staff member took the plunge off the ice shelf.

Shake Complacency
It’s easy to get too comfortable and complacent with your job…and if you do it’s likely your staff will follow suit. I spoke to this a bit earlier in my Outside your Comfort Zone blog post but I feel it bears repeating.

Shake off your complacency and that of your staff.  Network with other peers in the industry online or in person to see how others are approaching similar challenges.  Get out of the office for a group training day, exploring a type of research you don’t typically do…that will help to energize you and your team and shake the cobwebs out of your brains. 

For more on building an innovative culture, take a look at this recent article in Inc. Magazine – it’s a short read and a good one!

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Behind the Scenes






Visionary

Disruptor


Innovator

Industry Leader


 

I was talking to a junior colleague recently, who noted that folks with titles such as the above (bestowed on them by industry peers) are the ones who "get all the visibility" and typically get the funds to travel to conferences, speak at industry events, etc. 

We praise the innovators, the disruptors, the folks who raise the thought level of the industry, and we absolutely should - precisely because they bring the game to the next level. 

But in this post, I want to ensure we're also praising the project managers, the data analysts, and the strategists who often provide real structure for the business and projects and their work often allows the industry leaders to shine, and the visionaries to have enough time to create their visions. We can have all the disruptive thinking 
and lofty goals in the world, but without the project planning, the task management, etc., it doesn't get done.


Many of you reading this are leaders in your organizations: C-level executives, VPs, Directors and Managers. We all think heavily, deeply, and loftily about how to move our companies and our business forward. Please take a moment today to thank the project managers, strategists, programmers, PowerPoint designers, traffic managers, and others in your organization for keeping things running smoothly. And if you feel an imbalance on your team (perhaps too heavy in the visionary department and not enough execution?) consider adding those skill sets to your team, or add training for your existing staff. 

Consider also bringing some of these folks to TMRE with you, to hone their skill sets in tracks such as "Consultative Skill Development" and "The New MR Toolkit."  

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No Excuses!






Complacency. Inertia. Same-old, same-old. 


These are perils that we all face, whether we are client-side researchers or research suppliers. 


Unless you work with a wide variety of clients on a regular basis, there's a danger of becoming stale...and if you let that happen, you're  doing a disservice to yourself (and your career!), your company, and your clients.  


I think I've heard every excuse in the book for why someone may not want to pursue training or continuous learning:  


"I can't travel"
"Our training budget was just slashed" 
"I don't like face-to-face events because I'm an introvert and don't know anyone"
"I do very specialized research, outside training just doesn't apply"
"There's nothing out there for me"
"I'm too junior-level..." 


Come on folks! No more excuses - it's time for some tough love. No matter your budget, age, type of research, there ARE training opportunities out there. Let's review some of the wealth of resources that are out there:


Online


There are a number of fantastic market research blogs. Add them to your reader and peruse on your own time. If you don't already have this blog in your reader, I suggest you add it. Then, take a look at Next Gen Market Research blogroll for more.  


How about some lunchtime learning? You can often catch a market research webinar over your lunch hour. Because you're not working over your lunch hour...right? If you're interested in specific technology, suppliers often have webinars that provide an overview. Or, if you're more interested in market research practices and theory, there are options for you too. And they always have the attendees on mute, so don't worry...no-one will hear you munching on the potato chips. I'm a fan of the webinars that Revelation and Communispace produce. 


Have nothing to do on your commute, other than listen to NPR? Consider downloading market research podcasts to your MP3 player and listen to them while driving, riding the train, etc. Research Access has some great ones to start with, then search iTunes and Google for more.


Training via social media? Yes! Follow the #mrx hashtag on Twitter and the members of the market research community will link to articles of interest that will keep you reading for days! 

Face-to-Face Events
I have a particular love for face-to-face events. Partially because my company produces face-to-face events, so much of my research focuses on how successful that medium is.  But also becasue I feel I get the most out of my training budget when I attend conferences.


When thinking about events to attend, consider what will give you the most bang for the buck.  For my company, TMRE is the best bang for the market research buck as it provides us the widest variety of session options (138 of them!), the most people for networking (1,200+) and topics that are relevant to me and my work (mobile, generational research, big data, and more).  


I know that face-to-face events are tough for some of the more introverted among us. The prospect of networking can be daunting, especially if it's your first time at a particular. Here's my suggestion - avail yourself of the mentor program so you can receive some guidance as to how to navigate the event, and with your mentor you've made your first networking contact! 

There are also some great print resources - what books and magazines would you recommend? Add your thoughts in the comments!

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