08 June 2012

And the Researcher Impact and Effectiveness Award Goes to: Marina Gutman!

Regular readers will know that when I refer to “effectiveness,” I specifically mean, “are we enabling and creating the effects we intend among our various member constituencies?” Effects occur along the various valence relationships—Economic, Socio-psychological, Identity, Knowledge, and Ecological. In my own work, I apply this guidance specifically towards the challenges of contemporary leadership and transforming the cultures of 19th and 20th century organizations to become organizations consistent with the 21st century. But similar reasoning can be applied towards any other functional aspects of an organization: finance, operations, sales, human “resources” (which I would reframe as “resourcefulness”), and most of all, marketing. In fact, marketing has always been more about effects than goals or specific outcomes (which are more accurately considered as emergent consequences of marketing effects). Marketing asks the simple question, what effects do we, as a brand, want to have on consumers—both those who currently are, and those who are not yet, “ours.”

Exceptional marketing goes one step beyond that, recognizing that valence analysis creates an equivalence between consumers “out there,” and employees - say brand managers, for instance - “in here.” This realization, in turn, necessitates turning great data analysis into great storytelling both inside and outside (because, in valence-oriented organizations, there is no inside or outside; we’re essentially all on the same ’side!). It is the rare marketer indeed who truly understands and embodies this realization. How rare you ask? So rare, that the Market Research and Intelligence Association has held the award for Client-Side Researcher Impact and Effectiveness open for three years since its inception waiting for just such a marketer.

I am so very proud of my dear friend (and dance partner), Marina Gutman, who is the very first recipient of this award. In creating and awarding this honour, the Association
recognizes a member, employed at a client-side researcher corporate member of the Association, for outstanding achievements over the past year which have served to elevate the stature of marketing, survey and public opinion research and market intelligence at senior decision-making levels of his or her own organization. The nomination received for this award this year was absolutely compelling in terms of the nominee’s stellar impact and effectiveness within her organization, and the respect and influence she has garnered for the research function at senior decision-making levels. A brief excerpt from the nomination tells the story well:

Through strategic guidance, research prowess, outstanding relationships with research partners, and sheer will and passion, this individual has been able to elevate the stature of marketing research and decision-making from only very basic key performance indicator tracking to best-in-class levels. Her work is now being held up as an example for the other two business units at Coca Cola Canada [!], and is being widely used in organizations such as Nielsen and Millward Brown as best demonstrated practice and in training materials for developing researchers. She excels at identifying and focusing business questions, then building comprehensive research plans to operationalize them. She is an expert project manager capable of managing a huge workload with a limited budget and often even more limited timelines. Her exceptional relationships with her research partners enable her to pull off miracles regularly. Perhaps her most differentiated skill, however, is her ability to “tell the story” simply and concisely in plan business language, not “research-ese.”
I’ve seen the entire nomination brief and it left me in awe. Among the things that impressed me was Marina’s ability to market to brand teams with true effectiveness, creating the desired effects of transformative change in the way the organization and its managers think about, and act on their brands, resulting in satisfaction ratings for decision analyses catapulting from 40% to 100%. This translated into stellar brand performance and repositioning (against a well-entrenched competitor), highly successful new product launches, and perhaps most near and dear to the heart of an old OD pro (and prof) like me, “a critical strategic thinking partner to the business teams offering an unparalleled level of strategic thinking which both challenges and inspires them.” I really like that “challenges and inspires” part!

Congratulations, Marina! Well done, and so well deserved!

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