Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Live from FOCI 2013 - Resilience: Why Things Bounce Back

Andrew Zolli of Poptech has taken a fresh look at the relationship between innovation and adaptation is fresh and compelling.  Contemporary companies talk about and embrace diversity, because it is the right thing to do.  Zolli illustrates that diversity increases the capacity of an organization to innovate, and he is not just talking about the usual ways we think about diversity: gender, ethnicity, educational, and the like.  Zolli reminds us that the pivotal aspect of types of diversity may, in fact, be cognitive diversity.  

According to Zolli, cognitive diversity in innovative organizations looks like this:

·      Make the top accountable
·      Place small bets all the time
·      Invest heavily in people closest to the customers, stakeholder, citizens
·      Leverage outside innovations, but copy best practices sparingly
·      Actively cultivate internal and external networks
·      Embrace cognitive diversity
·      Scan for weak signals – develop data literacy
·      Profound facility for highly differentiated partnerships
·      Able to think in more than one time frame.

As companies increasingly appeal to a global markets, meaningful consumer intelligence requires the use of the resident frames of reverence that are integral to the quotidian experience of these consumers.  Market research deliberately construct paradigms that foster, for example, explorations of what diverse consumers value, how they interact with one another, what contributes to their status, and the like.  Zolli reminds us of this handy lens developed by UCLA anthropology graduate student Joe Henrich and his colleagues, Steven Heine and Ara Norenzayan.  Through their work in Peru, they determined that the WEIRDest people in the world are:

·      Western
·      Educated
·      Industrial
·      Rich
·      Democratic

Anthopologists are shaking the foundations of psychology, economics, marketing, and advertising.  By changing the way social scientists think about human behavior and culture, they are changing the way we must do market research and the way that companies adapt and innovate. 

To fill in the gaps, you’ll want to read Zolli’s book – Resilience: Why Things Bounce Back.

Gigi DeVault writes a market research column for 


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