Planning/Research methodology used to be based on spending hundreds of hours pulling massive amount of unprocessed data into a single place and essentially using high priced employees to screen for relevance. 90% of what was in the report was only marginally relevant to strategy and maybe 3% had a significant yet indirect impact on decision making. This is based on a model where no integration with a planning model was in place. This was also based on the quiet assumption that executive had an monopoly on important thinking within the organization. How very 1960’s of us.
Wouldn’t it be something if you could spend only hours disseminating data that would have a very significant impact on how hundreds or thousands of people made decisions, and you never again heard a single complaint about topic relevance. This can only happen when the research function experiences full integration with planning. You will spend your time refining the quality, and determining the implications of the data rather than gathering it. It then becomes something that is far more useful and valuable.
Have you ever been bothered by the fact that continuity between research reports and environmental/risk/SWOT discussions in planning have little to no continuity? You’re constantly starting the discussion from a blank page. Teams are isolated in their experience because they’re not learning from each other. There is no common source of iterative wisdom.
Through the process of planning, you should discover the factors that have the greatest impact on your success (supporting and resisting). THIS is the beginning of relevance for research. When what you’re producing is relevant to the decisions executives need to make around successful implementation of strategy – EVERYTHING you produce is relevant. It has to be relevant, because they have already told you it is. Pull data that challenges and supports what the company thinks they know, but the topic is always on the mark.
Environmental monitoring/planning/risk management/strategy become a single conversation that is fully iterative and flows throughout the organization. Constantly take what you know, and use the existing meeting structure to refine the data further. Make it more insightful… this is where planning and research become almost the same thing. Think about how you can involve more groups in what your data means.
Once you have momentum, feed ALL your teams with this insight. Feed their team planning sessions. Share the knowledge. Your job just got easier, and you’re now making everyone else look good too.