The double session was about getting that seat at the table, and keeping that seat at the table. We want to learn something different here, which is what do you feel the pushback is? We know that we want to aim for that seat at the table, but it just feels like there’s pushback to actually getting something done. Does that resonate with you at all?
“It does a bit. The pushback is probably a mindset, and it’s talking ourselves out of the fact that we deserve to be there, that we have a right to be there, that we have permission to be there,” says Walker. “We’re waiting on someone to invite us as opposed to showing up with a business led acumen that’s grounded in the data and the insight that we’ve gleaned from the customer. If we’re waiting, we’re going to be waiting a long time.”
Frank adds, “Just the fact that you’re asking the question shows it is fundamentally broken. First of all, there is no one else in the company in any organization regardless of size, profit, nonprofit, that has their finger on the pulse of the customer, of the market, of the competitors, of the societal trends as an insight professional. I believe the question behind the question is, why do I not have enough courage and conviction in my insights, in my analysis, in my knowledge of the business, to frankly just bring my own chair into the room. Because think of your chair as the voice of the customer. You have a chair. That table will expand, but you need to be ready and to have the courage and conviction to really put forth that point of view.”
There is the adage that in Amazon headquarters anytime they had a meeting, there was that seat for the customer. It’s not necessarily even a new concept that we’re talking about.
Walker agrees. “I think there are conversations that happen inside organizations. There’s pieces of information and data stories that are brought into the room. And then there are decisions that get made and actions that ultimately get taken,” points out Walker. “And if we want to make sure that the customer is factored into that process, we have got to show up. I am a business leader, I’m not just a researcher. I just happen to be operating in a research and insights role. How we see ourselves is really important. Some people just might have a mindset that it’s not my place. Or I’m lesser than or I’m taking orders from someone else. The reality is, human to human, person to person, let’s talk about the business and let’s be in tune with what’s on the agenda of our senior leaders and show up with things that are going to help them be successful and achieve the goals and objectives that they laid out for the organization.”
And that does get to that decision making piece, which is we’re literally funding decisions, essentially.
“We’re not only funding,” says Frank. “We are shaping decisions, creating product demand, creating want for the brand. And if you define your role as that, you are in a whole different mind space, and we don’t walk tall enough. We have to be on our front foot. I love what Thomas said. We are businesspeople first. Research happens to be our craft. One question I know collectively we get all the time is what’s the future of the insights function? Or what does a modern insights function look like? First, it’s not a function. It’s a capability. That’s a fundamental pivot. We need to shift insights from a function to a capability, and it is tremendously rewarding when you do that.”
See the full video interview from TMRE, as Walker and Frank discuss insights ROI, stakeholder engagement and relationships, what leaders care about, risk mitigation, the growth mindset and more.