You Can't be Brilliant Alone: Effective Collaboration

Last week, I attended the AMA Research Conference in Palm Springs.  One of the better presentations I witnessed was by Chris Frank, VP of Global Insights for AmEx.  He presented on “Tricks and Techniques” to be a brilliant researcher.  These techniques are built on two trends he sees as pervasive in research.

  1. Research Control becoming Research Collaboration
  2. Education about research becoming Evangelism about research implications

Here are Chris Frank’s 7 “Tips and Tricks” to be “Brilliant!”

  1. Be explicitly clear on the essential business question.
  2. Develop hypotheses, test them in the research and report on them.
  3. Practice Smoke Jumping.  Be willing to change the research design at any point to accomodate new findings or explore new questions so that the final report includes complete understanding of the findings and issues.
  4. Reveal surprises.  Ask the question, “What surprised you the most?”
  5. Don’t sweat the small stuff.  Miniscule changes are just that miniscule.  Focus on the important findings that are important enough to change decisions. 
  6. Plan and be sprecific in your research meetings.
  7. Make the bottom line the top line.  Put conclusions up front.  Leave the detail for those who want to dig through it.  Display the data to drive the point home.  Be compelling.

These points are changing the way research is designed, managed, reported and used throughout American Express. 

If we all focused on our research in this way, we would be more valuable to the decision-makers in our firm or our client’s firms.  This process makes complete sense and focuses everyone on the game-changing research results.


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