Jan 11, 2013

Top 4 Market Research Conferences of 2012

RPA Attended Many Great MR Events Last Year

Written by: Diane Wagner

Every year, there are lots of conferences for MR folks to choose from.  Recently, I saw the “Worldwide Market Research Conference Calendar” put out by Inside Research for 2013 which listed approximately 60 events from the likes of ESOMAR, MRA, IIR, Merlien, ARF, AMA, CASRO – and many more.  2012’s schedule was comparable. 

At our 2012 TMRE Booth with Rie Nagai
And we were there for many of those held in the US last year.  In case you missed these posts, we thought we’d share links from our 4 favorite conferences: 

We’re looking forward to another sure-to-be memorable year in MR and hope to see YOU at an industry event sometime soon! 

Jan 8, 2013

HBR Blog Highlights Power of Focusing on One Thing

Understanding How Technology Can Help ... or Hurt

Written by: Diane Wagner

I recently read “The Magic of Doing One Thing at a Time” by Tony Schwartz on the HBR blog and noticed that it was their most read post of the year in 2012.  No wonder.  Isn’t it the norm that so many of us are tired from doing more than one thing at a time – and feeling that we’re not really mastering anything? 
Photo: Chris' Ultra Blog
So what’s to blame?  Technology – and its role in removing stopping points and boundaries.  Tony points out that the biggest cost of multitasking is loss of productivity.  That, in fact, when we take focus from our primary task to work on something else, we increase the time it takes to complete that task by 25%.  TWENTY-FIVE PERCENT? That adds up.

He’s not alone.  Jeff Weiner, CEO at Linkedin, recently highlighted the similarities between Jerry Seinfeld and master sushi chef Jiro Ono (of “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” fame) in regard to how they approach their respective crafts. One key element they share? Focusing by “working clean” …
Jiro prepares each dish and then cleans his workspace the instant it's completed. In the film, a classical score accompanies his motions -- it's hard to draw a clear distinction between where the food preparation ends and the cleaning begins.
Similarly, Seinfeld has his own specific approach to writing a joke: "Seinfeld...grabs a legal pad and a Bic pen and sits at his desk. No street noise penetrates. The pages of the pad are destined for either a wastebasket or a master file containing Seinfeld’s entire act, handwritten." – “Jerry Seinfeld Intends to Die Standing Up

So how can the rest of us get more focus and “work clean”?  Tony gives several tips.
  • Shorten meetings (to 45 minutes or 20 minutes – versus 1 hour or 30 minutes, respectively).  Encourage people to turn off electronic devices.  And, we’d add: have attendees stand up during meetings (we’ve been doing this at our parent company, Voyage Group, in Tokyo for almost ten years now and it definitely helps everyone to stay focused and have shorter meetings).
  • Let employees take time off … from email.
  • Do the most important thing in the morning, uninterrupted, for 60-90 minutes.  No email.  In private if possible.
  • Schedule time regularly for strategic thinking (“if you don’t, you’ll constantly succumb to the tyranny of the urgent”).
  • And, finally, take real and regular vacations ("real" vacations, by the way, mean that when you're off, you're truly disconnected from work).

This got us thinking: How good are we at these things? Are we letting technology manage us (rather than our managing it)? And, most importantly, how can we do better?

Photo: Mexico! (Courtesy: evillasvallarta.com)
One of my colleagues, John, mentioned a time a few years ago when he took a hard-earned vacation to Mexico.  While sitting at the hotel viewing the ocean, he made time to complete an “important” task for a client – including chatting with him while at the resort.  While he thought he was being effective (at being responsive to the client while still enjoying the scenery), he realized that, deep down, he felt resentful, cheated out of his vacation time.  Of course, he knows that he was the person managing that situation.  Had he to do it over, he says, any client tasks would be handled before – or after – a vacation so that he could truly renew and take a "real" vacation, as Tony suggests.

Meantime, I’m continually frustrated by cell phones and their ever-present etiquette challenges.  One such example: people who answer their cell phone when it’s not convenient – for them.  For example, has this happened to you?
  • You call someone: “Hi Joe.  How are you?  Is this an OK time to talk?”
  • JOE (in a hushed tone): “Uh, Hi.  No.  I’m in the middle of a meeting.”
  • YOU: “Oh. OK. I’ll try to later.”
Awkward.  So, why then did Joe even answer his phone?  While technology could help (“Do Not Disturb” anyone?), instead, it's getting in the way of Joe's productivity (and, worse, causing him to become grumpy at you for calling!).

Or how about conferences?  Ever notice how many people in the audience are noses-down into their phone or other mobile devices?  I wonder how it makes the speakers feel?  Are they frustrated - or just relieved that people may be focusing on other stuff?  Sure, some of those attendees (like me) are perhaps live-Tweeting.  Still, full confession, if the speaker is less than riveting, I’m likely to sneak in a Facebook or email check as well … so, the question becomes: How much of that presentation are we really getting? And, if we are doing email or other tasks, how efficiently – and effectively – are we doing those?

Personally, I think we’re really at the beginning stages of truly understanding how technology is helping and hurting us.  Many thanks to Mr. Schwartz for so eloquently highlighting the importance of these issues.