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The Hole, Not The Drill. Why reporting should focus on the solution (and not the story!)

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In this presentation Mike, with Davina, discusses the need for market researchers to improve their reporting and an approach for doing so.
He begins within findings from a recent survey that contrasts the large gap in report satisfaction between the end users of reports and the report creators.
Mike then goes on to share an answer-oriented approach to reporting that delivers concise and clear elevator pitches, executive summaries and 15-20 page reports.
He then discusses how this differs from storytelling.

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The Hole, Not The Drill. Why reporting should focus on the solution (and not the story!)

  1. 1. The Hole, Not The Drill: Why Reporting Should Focus On The Solution (And Not The Story!) Mike Sherman & Davina Stanley September 2021
  2. 2. Sponsors Communication
  3. 3. Creating Better Research Reports The Hole, Not The Drill: Why Reporting Should Focus On The Solution (And Not The Story!) Mike Sherman & Davina Stanley
  4. 4. The Hole, Not The Drill: Why Reporting Should Focus On The Solution (And Not The Story!) 1. Clients are not happy! (and we don’t realize it) 2. Reports are too long and lack a clear answer to the client’s business issues 3. Preparing concise, synthesized reports will improve client satisfaction as well as your productivity
  5. 5. 5 Very 4 3 2 1 0 Not Very Market Research Human Resources Information Services Marketing Finance and Accounting How useful is the information? In The 1990s CEOs Didn’t Value Market Research
  6. 6. In 2019 Only 30% Of Report Recipients Rated Reports Very Good or Excellent 7% 6% 28% 26% 32% 28% 23% 28% 7% 8% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% Very poor Poor Fair Good Very good Excellent Source: NewMR “Quality of Market Research Reports” survey, March 2019, “How would you describe the quality of that report?” n=98
  7. 7. In 2021 The Results Are Similarly Poor (But Slightly Improved) Source: NewMR “Quality of Market Research Reports” survey, March 2019 and Summer 2021, “How would you describe the quality of that report?” n=130 n=98 2019 2021 30% 36% 7% 6% 27% 26% 32% 28% 23% 28% 7% 8% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% Very poor Poor Fair Good Very good Excellent
  8. 8. Report Creators Didn’t Recognize The Problem - 2019 7% 1% 28% 7% 33% 24% 23% 47% 7% 20% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% Very poor Poor Fair Good Very good Excellent Source: NewMR “Quality of Market Research Reports” survey, March 2019, “How would you describe the quality of that report?” Report Receivers Report Creators n=382 n=98 37 point gap
  9. 9. They Still Don’t - 2021 2% 0% 6% 0% 26% 6% 28% 23% 28% 46% 8% 23% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% Very poor Poor Fair Good Very good Excellent 33 point gap Source: NewMR “Quality of Market Research Reports” survey, summer 2021, “How would you describe the quality of that report?” Report Receivers Report Creators n=361 n=130
  10. 10. Gap Exists In Other Industries 20% 4% 56% 44% 24% 49% 0% 3% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% Poor Good Very Good Outstanding Source: Clarity Client Survey, summer 2021“How would you describe the quality of that report?” n=122 n=46 Authors Audience 28 point gap
  11. 11. 1. Clients are not happy! (and we don’t realize it) 2. Reports are too long and lack a clear answer to the client’s business issues 3. Preparing concise, synthesized reports will improve client satisfaction as well as your productivity The Hole, Not The Drill: Why Reporting Should Focus On The Solution (And Not The Story!)
  12. 12. Everybody Agrees What Is Important Report Receivers (n=130) 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% Detailed Rigorous Objective Practical Concise Insightful Report Creators (n=361) 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% Detailed Rigorous Objective Practical Concise Insightful Source: NewMR “Quality of Market Research Reports” survey, summer 2021, “Which of the following do you think are most important for an ‘Excellent’ report?”
  13. 13. Biology Is Part Of The Problem 2% of body weight 20% of calorie burn
  14. 14. So Is The Curse Of Knowledge
  15. 15. 3 Bad (But Common) Examples 1. The “War and Peace” Report 2. The Data Drop Report 3. The Agatha Christie Report
  16. 16. “Many researchers are still uncomfortable with providing clear, concise recommendations.” - Marjolein Van Nieuwkasteele, former Head of Insights, Philips, Research World, April 2005 These Are Long Standing Problems Source: Research World, April 2005, pages 13-14
  17. 17. In what ways was the report poor? • “Presentation was a large 100pp pdf (with typos!) that didn’t provide easily shareable insights to distribute to other stakeholders” • “Too many slides, difficult navigation” • “Too much info on each page. Too many huge tables” • “Volume of data presented overwhelmed non research trained stakeholders” • “Fantastic work, but likely too long to be truly accessible” Reports Are “Too Long” … Source: NewMR “Quality of Market Research Reports” survey, Summer 2021, “In what ways was the report poor/good?” REPORT RECEIVERS
  18. 18. In what ways was the report poor? • “Very dense & difficult to surface the so what?” • “The recommendations didn’t speak to some of the key challenges we’re facing as an organization” • “Overly descriptive of data rather than what we learned and what the implications are. Structure followed the questionnaire design rather than a narrative answering the business questions” • “Only report the findings but can’t interpret the data” … And Lack Insights Source: NewMR “Quality of Market Research Reports” survey, March 2019, “In what ways was the report poor/good?” REPORT RECEIVERS
  19. 19. What is most important for making a report excellent? • “Answers the business issues” • “Clearly answers the questions the stakeholders want answers to” • “Provocative or has a point of view” • “Identifies clear action steps, shows patterns, going beyond just observations” Clients Want Answers! Source: NewMR “Quality of Market Research Reports” survey, March 2019, “In what ways was the report poor/good?” REPORT RECEIVERS
  20. 20. 1. Clients are not happy! (and we don’t realize it) 2. Reports are too long and lack a clear answer to the client’s business issues 3. Preparing concise, synthesized reports will improve client satisfaction as well as your productivity The Hole, Not The Drill: Why Reporting Should Focus On The Solution (And Not The Story!)
  21. 21. Provide A Clear Message That Adds Value Before – 640 words After – 266 words
  22. 22. Focus On Outcomes, Not Inputs
  23. 23. Convey Your Main Insights As An Elevator Pitch 1. Main issue 2. Hypothesis 3. Next steps
  24. 24. Love it! How Do We Implement It?
  25. 25. Coonawarra Storyboard – Short Deck What it is Executive summary: for a presentation Where it came from Tracker Tracker Tracker E X A M P L E
  26. 26. Make A Strawman For Your Messages Early
  27. 27. 90 mins prep Fast decision > From 15 hours prep and no decision to … > From 90-min. detailed discussion to … 2 questions 8 minutes > From red penning multiple lengthy drafts to … 30-minute briefing 1 quick review Focus On Both Clarity AND Productivity
  28. 28. There Is An Opportunity To Use Your Time Envelope Wisely The old envelope Key messages Materials Analysis Time Your new one Analysis Storyline Communication materials Have a complete draft storyline half way through your time
  29. 29. 1. Clients are not happy! (and we don’t realize it) 2. Reports are too long and lack a solution focus. 3. Concise, synthesized reports will improve client satisfaction. The Hole, Not The Drill: Why Reporting Should Focus On The Solution (And Not The Story!)
  30. 30. Q & A Ray Poynter Davina Stanley Mike Sherman
  31. 31. Sponsors Communication

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