Building cultural understanding in organisations

Day One Podcast: Insights Room 101

Episode 05: Shazia Ginai – Blog

On The Day One podcast – Insights Room 101, hosted by Hannah Mann, our guests describe three of their worst insight industry pet peeves and aims to lock one of them away forever in Room 101, much like the popular British TV show. Our guest on the fifth episode is Shazia Ginai, the CEO at Neuro-Insight. Shazia shares with us the bugbears of the industry in her mind and offers solutions to each annoying trend in insights culture. The main pet peeves Shazia describes are unconscious bias training, inefficiencies around procurement, the long-dead paper survey, and the enormously popular Myers-Briggs test. While it’s true that these problems exist outside market research, Shazia believes they’re particularly loathsome in insights. We had a great time talking, as Shazia shared some wonderful clues to improving insights work.

For her first insights irritation, Shazia laments the unconscious bias training that is so popular in the corporate world today. She suggests that what we should be doing is deeper cultural work. The idea is that a standard ho-hum training session isn’t enough to really deal with unconscious bias. You have to go deep down into the company culture—every facet of it—to fight unconscious bias. And what really should be focused on is context and how we react to situations in different contexts. Blanket training doesn’t account for context. To see bias training work, we need to measure for success. The first measure of success is whether or not we’re hitting the metrics for equity, like gender and ethnic diversity, Shazia says. She also emphasizes that we need to quantify business happiness, because we’re only as good as our people. Shazia feels that we’re not doing the best right now (in the insights industry), but the work is being done. We’re data people, which means we need the data surrounding our points. We’re getting better but we still have a lot of work to do.

Shazia’s second target is the problems around procurement. We know that procurement is an essential part of business, but the way it’s done now struggles to aid the end-user. The people in procurement know that it’s necessary. “But if a procurement person was in the room, I’d just ask them to make it a bit more straightforward,” Shazia says. And can you think about the people filling out the forms to make their lives a little bit easier? It’s a mixture of the lengths of forms, the kinds of forms, and the lot. What do clients think about procurement, anyway? “I know that anyone that has to fill out anything—it’s time-consuming,” Shazia argues. The big agencies need that system for themselves. Generally, when you say procurement, people roll their eyes. Most people just see it as a necessary evil. We aren’t thinking about the end-user with procurement. If everyone just stood up and refused, then the way we go about procurement would change.

Moving on to her next banishment, Shazia fixes her sights on the paper survey, which persists today. She lays out a couple of reasons why we should see paper surveys disappear:

  1. It’s not great for the environment, but even more so—

  2. The data isn’t going to be that robust on paper.

  3. Most people these days can figure out how to use an iPad. She jokes that she may be being too harsh here.

She also feels that problems with technology are often more attitudinal than being based on actual problems with access. It may be time we address the fact that most technology that could replace a paper survey really is not that difficult to figure out, and offers so many advantages over the paper survey.

Finally, Shazia wants the listener to know that she has a bad taste in her mouth about how widespread Myers-Briggs is and how little information it really gives you. Context really is so important, she says. Myers-Briggs is not inherently bad, but it doesn’t help us to learn more about one another if every reaction is so context-dependent. You could be one person for a close friend and another for a group of friends—neither of which is all that helpful to know. If anything, we should be encouraging how multifaceted our personalities are and leaning into those in our work relationships, whether or not we’re an INTP.

Shazia and Hannah both agree to banish the Myers-Briggs into Room 101 forever.

 Guest Bio:

Shazia is the CEO at Neuro-Insight, a leading insights firm in the UK. She has more than 15 years of experience in brand strategy and insights research, including eight years as the Brand Franchise Innovation Leader for Hugo BOSS Fragrances and Skincare at Procter & Gamble. She is a creative and curious insight professional with a passion for people and leading insights into action. Shazia has a track record of helping businesses lead with actionable insights.

Relevant Links:

Shazia’s LinkedIn.