Using Strategic Insights to Steal a Lion's Kill
This video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z3AtVgiYKd8 shows three men walk straight up to 15 hungry lions and steal part of their kill. It completely puts to shame all videos of people swimming with sharks making them look like wimps by comparison.
When I first saw this video I gave the men who did this a 10 for bravery and a 10 for stupidity. Then I thought about it a bit and wondered if my rating was unjustifiably high, not for bravery, that one sticks, but for stupidity. These men didn’t do this on a dare, they didn’t do it out of desperation, they didn’t do it just to find out if it would work. Impressing a local girl may have been a factor, but regardless, they knew exactly what they were doing and how to do it. They understood perfectly the risk and the reward. With everything at stake they planned their move carefully and then executed it with strategic precision.
Strategic Insight is the term we use to describe the knowledge a company has that allows it to make good tactical decisions. Decisions that ultimately result in increased market share, greater profitability, and eventually enough money to take the entire company on an African safari to watch people like Rakitha intimidate lions in person.
Companies that lack Strategic Insight are content to push onward at a comfortable pace feasting on beans and rice instead of a nice juicy wildebeest stolen from a pride of hungry lions.
So how does one acquire Strategic Insight? It isn’t something that comes without effort. The kind of Strategic Insight that enables companies to leap ahead of their competition isn’t achieved in an hour long brain storming session with department heads. The type of Strategic Insight that has the potential to vault your company to the next level is best discovered by seeking it from those outside your organization.
Have you ever tried to read a sticker on a glass window or bottle from the inside looking out? It’s difficult and takes a while. Take a piece of paper sitting next to you right now and hold it up to a light with the blank side facing you and the printed side facing the light. Start reading, you can do it, your mind is smart enough to figure it out, but it’s a slow process, you probably had to flip the paper over a couple of times because you weren’t exactly sure what a word was.
Most organizations are unqualified to develop true Strategic Insights internally because they are too close to their own products and services to see what their customers see. They have been involved too long and are in too deep. In essence they are inside the bottle or building looking out at the back side of the label. Their customers are on the outside looking in. Each are looking at the same thing from a different perspective. Their customers know exactly what the label or piece of paper says because it’s facing them. The company thinks it knows what it says because, after all, they created it. But they don’t have the same perspective their customers do.
Marketing Research is what enables companies to see their products and services as their customers do. The result is better understanding and the outcome is Strategic Insights.
One final example. The world of sports is full of teams seeking Strategic Insight on their competition. One of the first things most professional teams do in order to get ready for an upcoming game is to view videos of their opponent. They study their competition carefully and strategically analyze their opponent’s weaknesses and strengths in order to learn how to defeat them. Unfortunately in business not all companies follow the mindset of a professional sports team. Instead they rely on their internal efforts alone. They can come up with ideas that might work, but without leveraging the insights that come from studying their competition they will only come up with ideas, untested ideas. Ideas can be good, ideas can be bad. Strategic Insights are more than ideas, strategic Insights are knowledge, the kind of knowledge that can only come from the outside in, the kind of knowledge that can only come from marketing research.
Kevan Oswald; Market Research Account Executive