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In Defense Of Transparency


Some people just have way too much time on their hands and it never ceases to amaze me how many people would rather try to tear things down than help build a better future together. I also really hate politics, back biting, rumor mongering, character assassination, innuendo, and being overly competitive. All of that stuff is just draining and unproductive. It’s come to my attention that some folks in the industry are engaging in those activities regarding GRIT and the Insights Innovation Competition. I believe that both GreenBook, the various partners involved in those initiatives, and I have strived for full transparency, but apparently the message hasn’t gotten through. So, in order to take away the energy of these negative practices and make room for more productive activities I’m going to set the record straight yet again. I’ll be as brief as I can, I promise.

Regarding GRIT: Yes, multiple companies and organizations participate as sponsors of the study; someone has to do the work of designing, fielding, analyzing the data, and producing the report. We are careful to look for any bias in the results during our analysis of questions related to innovative companies or influential organizations and as I have very publicly and consistently stated, I don’t believe there is any overt bias in our results. I think the respondents answer honestly; if you can’t depend on researchers to leave bias at the door, then who can we count on? The caliber of the people involved in this project is simply impeccable, and none of us would let a report go out the door without it being checked by multiple people and ensuring the data and process backs up our analysis.

If some of the sponsor companies or organizations come up in the results favorably (or unfavorably) that is simply because we only want to work with the best companies around in producing this important work. The bottom line is that you can take it or leave it; it is a free report that we do because we care of about the industry. The results are validated by real life developments and I stand by the integrity of the process, research, and partners. If you would like to pitch in to help make it even better, the door is always open; I welcome all partners to the process.

Regarding the IIC: I work with A LOT of companies in the market research space. Most of those I am just friends with. Some I do some consulting work with (blogging doesn’t pay real well), and a few I accept advisory roles with in return for equity because I think they are doing cool stuff and I want to see them succeed. Of the dozens of firms that approach me to ask for my help, I only develop a more formal relationship with a handful. These companies are listed on my LinkedIn profile, and if I mention them publicly I always acknowledge my relationship with them. The IIC was developed as a path for ANY  startup within the market research space to gain exposure and potentially win a cash award, whether I have a relationship with them or not, and designed in such a way that the fact that I do have a relationship would be irrelevant.

My role was simply to produce the event and find partners to help put it on. Since I am connected to so many companies through friendship or business dealings we deliberately designed the competition so that I would have no influence on the results; my job was to be an evangelist for the event itself and all the companies competing.  The elimination phase was a crowdsourced solution in which over 600 people voted, and each registrant could vote only once for each firm. During that process I voted for all 15 companies that submitted their idea, so each of the 15 had a single vote from me. The rest was up to them to earn the votes from the MR audience.

At the end of the day we had 6 companies with the highest vote tally that presented to 6 impartial judges and sought the popular vote of all attendees during the live broadcast, with the judges votes being weighted in order to be the primary decision factor. The process was as fair and impartial as we knew how to make it and the fact that Decooda, a company that I happen to have an advisory role with, won is nothing more than proof that I have good taste in the firms I choose to engage with! As I stated yesterday, they won fair and square on the merit of their pitch and I had no influence on the outcome. And since I could have no influence, our relationship did not preclude them from competing nor should it have.

Let’s be clear; if you impugn my integrity on these things you are also casting aspersions at many other individuals, firms, and organizations that I partner with. People like Ray Poynter, Larry Friedman, Edward Appleton,  and Andrew Jeavons, all leaders in the industry and highly ethical. I realize that somehow I have emerged as a big target for some unscrupulous folks that seem threatened by my visibility and influence in the industry; that is a shame. Anyone who knows me should recognize that I am all about collaboration, cooperation, and win/wins. I don’t consider myself a competitor to anyone; I’m just a guy trying to help the industry that has been very good to me for many years. I try and do right by people and try to be transparent and ethical in all of my dealings. Life is too short to be any other way.

Myself  and those that I work with have much more important and positive things to do that hopefully will provide benefit to the entire industry than defend ourselves from baseless accusations . This topic has already distracted me from that, so I won’t be addressing it again publicly and wasting the time of myself and, most importantly, those who take the time from their busy days to follow what GreenBook, our partners, and I are up to.

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5 responses to “In Defense Of Transparency

  1. It is not a surprising reaction from industry players who feel their sales pitch is affected by Greenbook’s work. And although your reply is rational, the people behind these accusations deserve at the most a mention and an indication of their reservations. So in the name of the transparency you mention above, I’m very much convinced of the quality of the work that was carried out by Greenbook and its partners, but the article lacks the arguments that might have been made to doubt this very same quality.

    The message of transparency is not the one needing to be pushed through, but the message that any issue may well be discussed by all sides wanting to have a say in it. Transparency becomes secondary when I feel able to make my own judgement on the issue at hand.


    1. Agreed Lucas, but it is still unfortunate that people have to resort to such tactics.

      I welcome anyone who wants to share their concerns publicly where I can directly respond to do so. Unfortunately at this point they have chosen not to engage in a public debate but rather have spread rumors and false accusations to others privately. Thankfully some of the folks they tried to influence brought the matter to my attention. I know who the culprits are and hope they will have the decency to step forward and present their concerns in the spirit of openness and conciliation.

      In any event, I’ll consider this issue resolved and hopefully in the future if anyone has cause for concern they will approach me directly rather than engaging in such an unproductive and unprofessional tactic as character assassination.

  2. Thank you, Lenny — I think you have always approached the industry with abundance thinking and a spirit of generosity. GRIT has been a great resource going back to the days of Rockhopper Research, and it has become only more valuable. I know you have engaged critics in the development and refinement of the research itself over the years and know you will continue to do so.

    I join Brian Tarran of Research magazine in saying how great the innovation competition was. It was a great showcase to the companies featured and gave them a “reality show” with a tangible reward. The final results were close. I thought putting more weight on the judges’ votes rather than the attendees’ was fine and minimized the impact of any gamesmanship on the final results. Thanks for launching this great program, and I hope we see it repeat next year!

  3. This really hurts. I participated (as a listener) in the festival of NewMR and IIC was a fringe, but very exciting event. I voted (when crowdsourced), followed the process of short listing, listened to each of the finalists, when they pitched for the top spot, listened very keenly to the judges’ questions and responses (not just the answers, but how fluently and substantially the answers were given) of the finalists. Then, followed the online voting process. Nothing could have been more transparent (IMHO). I am saying this, despite the fact that one of the finalists was my fav, I voted for the company and lost. The moment I came to know who had finally won, I said to myself “well, the very best of all best has won”

  4. No idea about the background noise, but as a Judge I can say the process seemed good to me. It was a great event, fun, inspiring – only one or two technical glitches which is good going in my opinion. I was impressed by pretty much each and every one of the contestants and applaud Lenny’s efforts (and whoever else was involved in setitng it up) in making this happen. Agree with Jeffrey – would be great if it happened again next year.

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