A critical turning point in George Orwell’s allegorical novel, Animal Farm, comes when Napoleon the pig replaces the seven commandments of Animalism with the maxim that, “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” (OK, so technically there is a second commandment concerning the superiority of two vs. four legs, but that’s a topic for a different blog.)

At the risk of wading into an unintentional debate about the merits of socialism, we would suggest there is an important parallel to this adage that captures a notion central to Agile Research.

A simple substitution of noun and adjective, and voila:

All customers are important, but some are more important than others.

No commercial enterprise that we know of operates with unlimited resources or unrestrained budgets. Prioritization and trade-offs are a fact of business life. The key to profitability is to align one’s limited resources to those activities, and customers, that yield the most profit, and to limit the commitment of resources to those that don’t.

Now, that’s not to offer an excuse to those who would ignore customers or treat them neglectfully. Witness the bad press surrounding Best Buy’s ham-handed attempt some years back to treat customers differently based on a profiling of their “desirability” to the retailer.

But it does mean setting priorities, so you can focus and commit scarce resources wisely, delivering unique experiences that reward different customers appropriately to their needs, and in line with your ability to deliver.

Likewise for Agile Research. Agile Research efforts deliberately prioritize and focus on those customers who matter most to your business. We call them Catalytic Customers, but by any name, these are those customers whose involvement in your category and ability to influence others give them weight and importance beyond their numbers.

Too often, research design decisions place too much emphasis on conventional assumptions of representativeness and projectibility that remain stubbornly grounded in conventional thinking about exhaustively surveying entire populations.

Agile Research is predicated on the notion that some customers are indeed more important than others.

We don’t need to talk to everyone. Just everyone who matters.

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