A Summary of the 2018 Insights Association CEO Summit Last year I summarized the CEO Summit theme as ‘Technology Partnering’. This year the two words I’d choose would be ‘Change’ and ‘Partnering’.
It was widely agreed that successful companies can’t stand still in a changing industry. Changing doesn’t necessarily mean adding more Technology. In my opinion it means doing something completely new. If profits aren’t increasing, and your team isn’t happy, stop and think.
Personally, I believe change can even be backwards looking. Sometimes we’ve done something successful in the past, that more recently we have forgotten to do. A conference like the Insight Association’s CEO Summit can remind you of these things when you hear stories about what is working for others, and you think, hey I did that a while back, and had forgotten about it, it’s time to try it again, perhaps in a slightly new way that matches your current conditions.
The theme of the day, which I believe was expressed by different CEO’s in different ways had to do with incremental change. Changing a bit at a time. “Changing 1% Per Day”, or my personal long time favorite answer to the question “How do you eat an elephant?”, answer “one bite at a time”.
I like the new “1% per day” though because of the focus on the present and need for continuous improvement and change. [Zain Raj, CEO of Shapiro + Raj, really drove this home]
Partnering was a theme I wrote about last year as well. I do think if you come to a conference like this, and don’t have it in mind, you’re missing a big opportunity.
As usual at conferences there are many little side meetings. A good partnership in my experience doesn’t have to be some grand M&A, it must be more than words, there must be execution.
The CEO’s of Nielsen, Kantar, TNS, and IPSOS don’t attend the Insights Association Summit. This is a chance for start-ups, smaller and mid-sized firms to learn from each other, to begin partnerships, and offer better innovative products and services to our clients than the larger and somewhat slower moving firms can.
Jamin Brazil, formerly CEO of two successful research firms, Decipher and FocusVision, spoke on a different type of partnership than those between companies. He drew on his experience with long-term business partner Jayme Plunkett. His humble yet undeniably successful story is an interesting one.
As part of his talk he had surveyed the attendees at the CEO summit. As with most surveys, the data was “Mixed” (structured and unstructured), and so he had used OdinText to analyze the results. I’ll include 2 of his slides below.
First, comparing the market research industry data to other industries, he had found that we as an industry seem more likely to partner, and tend to do so longer/more successfully than CEO’s of other industries.
While sample size here was very small, OdinText’s AI was still able to detect some directional patterns in the data. For instance, when considering the Pro’s and Cons of Partnering, Marketing Research CEO’s who have partnered longer were much less likely to be concerned with ‘Decision Making’ issues and agreeing on specific ‘Goals and Roles’, and instead more likely to focus on ‘Sharing’, and ‘Finance’, while those in shorter relationships tended to be more focused on the former, and less on the latter.
Also, perhaps not surprisingly, those who were more favorable and successful in partnering had a very different, more positive and productive outlook related to the idea of partnering. This manifested in several ways including the tone and word choice. In fact, those who had more difficulty with the idea of partnering tended to be more likely to use more formal terminology like the word “Partner” instead of more familiar and affectionate terminology such as “best friend” and describing partnering “as a marriage”. As one of the many CEO’s who had responded to the survey said it, “You Fight and are Challenged to Make Decision – Best Decision Ever”, that certainly sounds like a marriage to me!
I know I for one can see the benefits of partnering, and have seen it work great in many other research companies. Another such company is Critical Mix where attending Co-CEO Keith Price and his Co-founder Hugh Davis, have also had a very long and successful relationship. Keith did a great job on the now infamous ‘CEO-Summit Hot Seat’, and echoed some of these findings.
Ultimately Partnerships and Partnering are to some degree about timing. But if we aren’t on the lookout for good partners, whether inside our business or outside with another business, we’re likely to miss these chances. Clearly based on what I saw partnering offer the opportunity of not just more profit, less risk and stress, but also as a way to make our journeys more fun.
How do you plan to change or partner in 2018? Looking forward to hearing your thoughts, at OdinText we’re always looking to partner with researchers who have good data and want to improve their insights.