Transforming organisational performance through customer insights

Day One Podcast: Insights Room 101

Episode 07: James Wycherley

On the Day One podcast – Insights Room 101, hosted by Hannah Mann, our guests describe three of their worst insight industry pet peeves and aim to lock one of them away forever in Room 101, much like the popular British TV show. Our guest on this episode is James Wycherley, an expert on Insight strategy and Insight team transformation and author of the new book, Transforming Insight: the 42 secrets of successful corporate Insight teams. James joins us on the Room 101 podcast to share what things in the industry he’d like to see banished in Room 101 forever. The main pet peeves James describes are: naming conventions for things like “market research teams”; research briefs or data analysis; and thinking of “commerciality” as a dirty word. James provides meaningful criticism during our conversation, and we hope you enjoy it.

 James’s first choice for Room 101 is the naming convention for phrases such as “market research.” By referring to themselves as research teams or analysis teams, they run the risk of perpetuating the idea that they’re only focused on data or information when really, they are very much contributing to the insights and intelligence that are driving the organisation’s decisions.  When I ask him how do we change this, he said that the best in the industry have already adopted this shift in perspective. They are already focusing on insights and intelligence while overriding the naming conventions. James also explains that it’s the industry’s heritage that led to its current siloed practices, in which “market research” focuses on data and methodology while other departments adopt the task of insight.

 James’s second item is research briefs – or data analysis. Other departments view insights teams as providers of data or information rather than providers of qualitative research, insights, and intelligence. He pointed out that insights teams allow other departments to set their agendas and in the process, set themselves up to be order takers. I asked him if he thought that the kind of personality drawn to data analysis may also be a people-pleasing personality, and while he agreed that that may be the case, he wasn’t saying so as a criticism. He thinks the organisations as a whole should rethink insights’ role. Briefs are only one aspect of insights’ contributions to an organisation when other departments should view them as sources of intelligence that drives decision-making.

And for his final outcast, James picks insight teams treating commerciality as a dirty word. Removing the barrier preventing insights teams from embracing commerciality can help insight teams realise the value they provide the customer. If insights teams can reframe the idea of commercial success as a strategy to gain consumer insights in addition to understanding the operation as a whole, they then will understand their role as providers within that framework. With this new framing, insights teams can see that their value exchange is between the customers and the providers.

James agrees with me to banish treating commerciality as a dirty word forever. We both enjoyed the conversation, and we hope you do, too.

About – James Wycherley:

James joined the IMA (Insight Management Academy) as Chief Executive in May 2015 after 10 years as Director of Customer Insight and Analysis at Barclays.

He is an expert on Insight strategy and Insight team transformation, knowledge development, and communication, and he represented Barclays at the IMA’s Insight forums for over a decade before joining the IMA team himself.

James has delivered consultancy and keynote presentations in Europe, North America, Australia, India, and the Middle East, and has lectured at the Winchester, Anglia and Ashridge Business Schools.

He is the author of over 30 IMA publications and has just published a new book – Transforming Insight: the 42 secrets of successful corporate Insight teams

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