Archive for November, 2012

Musings On Things Upended
November 4, 2012

Dear Readers;

There’s a giant evergreen lying on its side in the little koi pond right outside my living room window. It came crashing down Monday night in an 82 mile an hour gust of wind from megastorm Sandy. At first, we thought a limb crashed into the pond; with morning’s light we realized it was the entire tree, exposed roots and all, that fell. It’s disturbing, the vista is dramatically changed, and yet it’s also lush and exotic—as the dangling limbs make the pond look a bit like Rousseau’s “The Garden of Earthly Delights.” Fortunately the tree didn’t hit the house, nor kill any of the fish—although we sadly discovered a “smushed” giant frog. As I clear debris from the back yard today I can see the enormity of the upended root bed and the crater left behind. 

In a way, this tree is a vivid metaphor for other things that seem upended these days. 

Within the market research profession, many are calling into question the question “Why?” Does pursuing this question bring the results of accuracy and relevance on which we have depended in order to ferret out insights into decision-making? Behavioral Economists like Daniel Kahneman, author of Thinking, Fast and Slow suggest that consumers don’t really know why they make decisions—though they can rationalize and give a plausible story to support their actions. According to Kahneman there are two modes of cognition taking place—which he names System 1—which reacts quickly and automatically to facts, faces and simple problems and System 2 which thinks more slowly and deliberately. His work and others have enormous impact for how we design our research; and may be a contributing factor to the heightened interest in ethnographic or observational research to witness behavior and derive insights.

On a marketing front, some of my clients are now embracing the work of marketing scientist Dr. Byron Sharp and the researchers of the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute, who present data and thought provoking arguments in How Brands Grow. The key message of that book: widely held marketing practices are entirely wrong! For example: they say, we’ve all been taught that brands vary tremendously in loyalty. Not so fast, according to Dr. Sharp–“loyalty metrics for competing brands are quite similar.” 

These provocative thought leaders remind me that I need more time and reflection to identify implications for my business practice. 

And, as my back up generator hums along nicely in the background, I am also reminded that at this moment in time, nothing can be taken for granted.

While I feel most fortunate that my home and family are unscathed, it feels like a confluence of forces are catapulting changes and upheavals personally and professionally.

By nature of something being upended, you can’t return to the way it was before, you have to integrate the changes. So how do you use “upendedness?” I believe we can do this in two ways—one is to find alternatives for those necessary functions that were disturbed, and the other is to innovate uses of resources, priorities, etc.

The positive can happen if we continue to come together as professionals, colleagues, friends, neighbors and human beings to share our questions, assumptions, resources and to support each other’s endeavors. 

I see signs of that “lushness” in my environment.

 Laurie Tema-Lyn,

Practical Imagination Enterprises,


Evergreen in the Koi Pond
November 4, 2012

Evergreen in the Koi Pond