Get the Data You Need to Find Your 2022 Momentum
It’s Day 14 of the “new” year. Only two short weeks ago, I was ready to take on the new year by storm! I had goals, next steps, and a fancy schmancy new scorecard. I had my words of the year: MOMENTUM for Jonquil Ridge and DELIGHT for my personal life. I was fired up! I was ready! (Okay, let’s be real: these are pandemic times. I was focused, cautiously optimistic, and ready to start controlling the things I can control!)
Day by day these past few weeks, though, I’ve felt my optimism in the new year wavering. Omicron is raging. The Great Resignation is cascading. Minnesota January is miserable. Every time I glance at my phone, there’s another scary headline, another friend infected and praying for mild symptoms, another person moving around whose absence means changes in decision-making processes, business goals and expectations. It’s exhausting!
My inner optimist reminds me that this too, shall pass. In six months, we will have moved through this wave of changes and hopefully be settling into all the newness, better and stronger than before. As the stones keep flying at me one by one, however, each has the potential to freak me out or become a reason to make me feel like I am flying blind in this wild and crazy world.
Then, I remind myself that this certainly isn’t my first flight through anxious times. More extreme? More uncertain? Well, yes. Thankfully, however, I’ve learned a few tricks to help me weather times like this.
A few years back, a friend pointed out my most effective coping strategy for anxious times has long been to get more information. Remind yourself about all those wonderful “Momentum” goals that you lovingly penned just a few short weeks ago and then dig in. Start breaking down the issues, getting expert advice, and solving problems one at a time. Most importantly: Don’t panic!
Step 1: Identify That Next Right Decision
Anxiety-fighter number #1 is to go back to those goals that seemed so great when you were creating them. Do they still resonate? Do they still make sense? They probably do, so don’t beat yourself up. To start implementing them, however, you need to focus on decisions you need to make. What’s that next right decision?
One of the most critical roles I’ve played for one of my clients recently is COVID Market Conditions reporter. We started very early in the pandemic trying to pinpoint exactly what problems physician customers were facing. We tried to think very broadly about potential things that could be standing in the way of resuming pre-COVID case levels and not only issues that that company normally influenced.
There were lots of things that were interesting intellectually to learn, but to keep the company moving forward and the budget in line, we had to stay focused. What decisions did my internal clients really need to make? The top of the list was whether and how to expand the value package – the actual product we were selling, but also the entire customer experience with us — offered to customers in different types of practice settings. Should they find sources for Product A to help customers with health and safety precautions? Should they bring in a strategic partner to offer Case Enabler Product B? Or would it be more helpful to innovate on Financing Plan C?
Step 2: Identify Data Needed to Make That Decision
In order to make those decisions, there were several data needs. First, we needed to gather our smartest internal folks to create hypotheses for what we thought those needs were. We used trusted sales reps closest to the customers and quick phone calls with physician consultants to do that fast. Then, we needed input about the criticality of each so decision-makers could properly prioritize potential solutions for the internal team and understand the time frame available to make an impact on that issue. Lastly, we needed more detailed customer needs insights to inform requirements for those expanded products or services that were part of the offer.
Step 3: Just Start Somewhere
Don’t worry about getting it perfect the very first time out. Remember, something is better than nothing! Start somewhere and keep following the threads of insights that will help you make that next right decision. Start with a small set of qualitative interviews to start asking the questions live with the professionals who are as close to the decision-making as you can get. You want to use qualitative interviews so you can ask “why” as much as possible to keep clarifying the problem you are trying to solve. As the issues get clearer, consider validating with a bigger quantitative sample in a web survey. More data than you have right now very well might be just what you need to keep moving forward and just what your team needs to get re-energized.
Some situations may feel particularly frustrating with pandemic restrictions on travel and in-person meetings. Normally, you would want to do in-person demonstrations/lab visits or hands-on human factors testing, but you can’t physically get your device into someone’s hands fast enough. There are options to get creative! Start with Zoom conversations supported by detailed images to see what early reactions are. If you properly focus your research on critical path decisions standing in the way of progress, you may be surprised by how much you can get remotely. Another option might be getting a few key consultants who are in the same city into a local cadaver lab together instead of flying them all to your corporate headquarters or meeting them at a physician conference like you might have done in 2009 or 2019.
I’d be happy to jump on a complimentary call to talk through your most important questions and help you figure out where to start – whether on a COVID-related topic or another 2022 goal that just happens to be stuck in the COVID crazy right now. For more information about my approach to Clarify projects, see my Services overviews. Then, book some time today and let’s get started!