How do you decide it’s time for change?

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Have you ever stopped at a stop light and wondered when it was that we decided that a red light hanging over a street meant we needed to stop? Or have you ever looked at lines on a road, and wondered when we started recognizing them as barriers to be crossed or not crossed? This got me thinking: are there things in market research that keep us from trying something new only because that’s the way things have “always been done”?

What is constraining you from taking a leap forward?

Before I go on, I know that there are many rules that are in place, spoken and unspoken, that guide the way we do business, the way we approach clients, the way we approach market research as a whole. But every so often, I think we can get a bit stuck thinking that the way things have been done is the way things must continue to be done, whether it makes sense or not. We worry about the risk inherent in trying something new, whether it’s a new approach, a new technology, or even changing to a new project or program manager for a program that has been in place for years.

Sometimes, this hesitation is good. Other times, doing things the way they’ve always been done just doesn’t make sense any more. When you’re trying to do everything on your project on your own because you aren’t sure what might happen if you turned a piece of it over to someone else, you are sacrificing not just your ability to look for other ways to provide value to the project and your client, you’re also likely limiting someone else’s ability to learn and grow in their own career path. When you’re stuck on fielding a survey a certain way, when there are new and less intrusive ways to collect the same data, you’re risking your survey audience getting so fed up with your surveys that it becomes a struggle to obtain responses. When you’re stuck with certain questions in your survey that have been asked time and time again but are seeming to become irrelevant to the way your business is conducted today, it’s time to re-evaluate and perhaps start fresh.

I find myself constantly caught between the two sides of this argument: keeping things the same because of past experience, and changing things up because of the promise of future experience. This is a difficult place to be. On the one hand, I understand the need and desire to keep trending in place so that you can better identify factors in your market that are affecting audience perceptions. However, I also understand the need for not only businesses to evolve, but market research to evolve along with it, so that audiences don’t become tired, data gathered maintains its relevance, and studies can become more efficient.

So here’s my question to you: how do you navigate this within your own projects? How do you evaluate when to refresh your study from scratch versus just keeping everything the same? When do you decide the way you’ve always done things isn’t working for you any more?

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