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What Got Us Here Won’t Get Us There

When embracing new ideas and innovation for the future, organizations also need to take stock of what needs to be stopped in the present.

Editor’s Note: This post is part of our Big Ideas Series, a column highlighting the innovative thinking and thought leadership at IIeX events around the world. Isaac Rogers will be speaking at IIeX North America (June 12-14 in Atlanta). If you liked this article, you’ll LOVE IIeX NA. Click here to learn more.

I’m often asked what my strategy is for getting the “most value” out of a conference or industry event. Do I spend my time in the most inspiring sessions, do I visit each and every exhibitor booth, or do I attempt to network with change-agents and rising stars among the attendees? At a conference like IIeX, having access to inspiring new ideas isn’t the problem; you will have ample opportunity to do any combination of these three activities, in almost any quantity you desire.

The strategy I recommend for those attending IIeX is not to focus on what research innovations you will bring back to your teams, but instead to spend more time thinking about what activities you will be asking your team to STOP doing once you get back.  

In the book “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There,” Marshall Goldsmith discusses how business leaders often obsess over the traits and skills that earned them their success so far in their careers and how focusing on existing strengths limits them from adapting their skillset and readying themselves for the future.

In a broader sense, I believe this is one of the core weaknesses of the market research industry. We’ve spent much of our recent history focusing on our strengths and religiously honing the skills we have already mastered, yet we carve off little to no time or bandwidth to develop the skills we will need for the future.  

The truth is, if you come to Atlanta, get exposed to all these brilliant new ideas and methods, but then fly home and ask your teams to do all the same work, you may end up missing the point.

Instead, I encourage you to realize that for every new idea you bring home, you are going to have to stop doing one activity you are currently doing today. For every innovative new tool you want to adopt, you must retire an existing one. It’s rare to find leaders who have the discipline to stop doing the things that made them successful so far, and we want to simply “add on” to our already full plates. I believe the only way for change to take hold is for us to make intentional room in our businesses for the change we want to enact.

IIeX is the epicenter of innovation for our industry, and there are few better places to collect the seeds of change you can take back home to plant within your own organization. To help collect your thoughts before you depart, be sure to attend the GRIT Report Trends and Future Impacts Panel on Wednesday morning, where we will have the opportunity to integrate the learnings from the 2017 GRIT report in an open a dialog about what the future holds for our industry.   

Take that opportunity to develop the list of innovations you want to embrace for the future but also take stock of the things you need to stop doing. It is a rare individual who has the willingness to turn down a profitable project today to make space in their organization for the projects of tomorrow, but I believe it will be those individuals that will thrive in the future of our industry and succeed where others will falter.

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