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In Decision

San Francisco Company of Friends member Tom Brown, CEO of the market research firm Power Decisions Group recently shared his top 10 tips and tools for making strategic decisions with other local members. Here's his list:

  • Clarify the decisions you must make. Before you start, make sure you are clear about the strategic and tactical decisions you face.
  • Think first. List the possible decisions, problems, and opportunities. Work with each. Hold off on the filters and judgment — accept all ideas. Allow incubation time.
  • Target the "right" problem or opportunity. Take time to explore the problem or opportunity. Rarely is the surface problem the real issue. "We're losing market share," might be only a symptom. It could mean creeping product lag, a weak sales engine, undifferentiated positioning, uncompetitive ad penetration, or something even worse.
  • Begin with a simple process that moves toward decisions. I use the decision pathway approach.
  • Ask four key questions. What do we know now? What are the best opportunities as we understand them now? How can we frame our options based on what we know now? What do we need to know that we dont know?
  • Adopt a broad view of strategic intelligence. I use the Intelligence Platform with three components: data, ideas, and management drivers.
  • Pinpoint your decision-making stage to drive research objectives and design. At each stage, ask "Do we have solid information, or is more needed?" Use the Decision-Research Matrix. It links suggested research tools to each stage.
  • Don't fall in love with a marketing research technique such as focus groups. A strong method for one decision stage may be wrong for another.
  • Know your target's attitudes, behaviors, and their product or service use system. The key to building loyalty is knowledge of your target's attitudes and behaviors, the drivers of brand choice and the doorway to segmentation and targeting.
  • Get an edge and tap your target with a research panel. Consider a research panel to reduce research cost and enhance data quality. You can quickly tap it to guide strategy and execution decisions.

Do you follow a conscious, explicit process when making strategic decisions?