Longer reflections
July 12, 2017

Longer reflections on subjective reality, comics and research

By Paul Laughlin

A number of our previous posts are just short blogs posts, with tips for researchers, this time I’ll share longer reflections.

In addition to my own (and guest blogger) opinion pieces, some of our past research-related collection includes:

But, as promised, this time I’ll share some longer-form content, akin to what the Financial Times likes to call their “Big Read“.

Given the current bias towards more articles being published on topics of data, analytics & data science, than research – it was good to find this content.

I hope this (totally subjective) selection helps inform your research practice and CPD as a research leader.

Longer reflections on Clarity and Communication

Akin to the danger of analytics leaders focussing solely on developing technical skills, there is a risk that researchers focus solely on learning new methods. Keeping abreast of improved techniques and new software or research agencies is useful, but development as a research leader requires a broader focus.

In this well written article, from Susan Fader & John Boyd in Quirks magazine, they explore the importance of perceptions and different participants subjective ‘reality‘. They also share their useful DISCOVER method to help identify and understand mental models that block free information flow. It’s well worth reading the whole article to understand how this approach can help improve clarity and communication within your team, as well as when conducting research.

When applied to overcoming either the marketing misconception problems cited, or team performance, this method also leads the reader to where research would help. In that sense, this would be a useful method for Analytics or Data Science leaders to learn, as a prompt to collaboration with researchers where relevant.

Why clarity and effective communication are so important to MR | Articles | Quirks.com

Editor’s note: Susan Fader is insight navigator/qualitative researcher and strategist at Fader and Associates, a Teaneck, N.J., research firm. John Boyd is managing partner at Dyalogic, a Salt Lake City research firm.

Longer reflections on the potential of comic books as a media

If you think comic books, or graphic novels, are just for kids, then you must have missed the growing international industry of Comic-Con.

But, beyond the appeal of this media & superhero characters to a devoted adult fan base, graphic novels have also been the subject of scientific enquiry. One interesting line of enquiry has been the potential for comic-style communication to be a more effective alternative for debriefing research findings. If you’ve had the discomfort of sitting through ‘death by PowerPoint’ as misguided research agencies try to show you how much work they have done, I’m sure the idea has some appeal.

Well, to add some social science rigour to the concept, have a read of this interesting article from Mark Carrigan on The Sociological Imagination blog. Although not a particularly long post itself, Mark usefully summarises academic contributions during a workshop held on this topic. It is well worth clicking on many of the links provided by Mark, to see examples of how this might work in practice. I particularly like the example of communicating research on “Higher Fees, Higher Debts: Greater Expectations of Graduate Futures” as a comic book.

It’s not a media I have thought of advising insight leaders to try before, but this collection of evidence makes a compelling case to try it. Plus, another reason for insight teams to employ a graphic designer as one of their multi-disciplinary team.


Longer reflections on Kindness and not being a Jerk

As we are focussing on research, I thought I’d end this post with two recommended write-ups on recent research, published by the British Psychological Society. Both are applicable to all leaders, even if your specialism is data, analytics or marketing, rather than research. After all, we could all benefit by knowing the positive impact our kindness could have and by knowing how to avoid being a jerk. I know that could help me!

In the first of these two reported research studies, Alex Fradera shares some intriguing research results from the University of California, studying workers at Coca Cola’s Madrid site. That experiment provides strong evidence that small acts of kindness benefit not only the giver & the receiver, but also the culture of the wider organisation.

Small acts of kindness at work benefit the giver, the receiver and the whole organisation

In the lab, psychologists have shown how generosity propagates and spreads. If someone is kind to us, we tend to ” pay it forward” and act more generously to someone else when given the chance. But it’s not clear if these findings are realistic.

The second piece of research published by the BPS, is this one with the eye-catching title of “… how not to come across as a jerk.”¬†That had me intrigued.

It proved be a good read. In this article, Alex shares the highlights of a new paper published in “Social and Personality Psychology Compass“. In it, researchers from Utrecht University share how people often make bad impressions because of adopting unintentionally counterproductive presentation tactics.

Several of the examples are hilarious, but in that awkward way when you find yourself remembering your own past gaffes. Rather than disclose my own weaknesses, have a read for yourself and see if there are behaviours you should be avoiding in future. Providing you’re not actually a narcissist, you and your team may benefit.

New paper provides evidence-backed insights on how not to come across as a jerk

By Alex Fradera Why do we screw up the good impressions we mean to make? In the extensive scientific literature on self-presentation, the most popular theory is that failures are due to a loss of control. We snap at someone, allow our voice to falter, or let our unlikeable side slip out from underneath the managed veneer.

What are your longer reflections?

I hope those were an interesting read and inspired you as a customer insight leader.

If there are any other topics you’d like this blog to write on, in more depth than previously, do let me know. As always, I look forward to reading your comments.