Saturday, March 18, 2006

Marketing Decisions?

In the February edition of the Harward Business Review ( Kenneth R. Brousseau writes about the different decision modes of executives. He distinguishes two key dimensions against which he maps executive decision behavior: Volume of Information (small or large) utilized to inform a decision, and number of options generated (one or several) before taking a decision. His article focuses on explaining the pros and cons of these different decision modes and describes the change of manager’s decision modes while advancing through their career. The more they advance in their career, the more options they are trying to generate before making a final decision.

His well articulated argument challenged me to contemplate how marketing scientists (=data driven marketers) are making marketing decisions. Are they putting enough effort to cultivate these both decision dimensions of decision modes: Volume of information and number of options? I realized that most members of the science affiliated marketer community (e.g. Strategic Planner, Data Miners) have been pretty good in focusing on generating and dissecting an increasing volume of information, but have largely lacked in generating a sufficient number of valid options before taking a decision. Their key focus is coming up with one right decision. I think it’s time that we focus more energy on generating a valid number of potentially successful options than spending most our energy on increasing the volume of digested information.

Interestingly enough most data driven marketer believe that there is one truthful answer to a given challenge, while most creative driven marketers are more used to think in a multitude of options. The creative job is often to produce a number of potentially appealing marketing programs (=high number of options) and are very used to accepting that there is not one right answer. But most likely they lack the interest in analyzing a high volume of information before coming up with interesting options. This reverse mode of decision producers between these two tribes of marketers might explain why the communication between them is so often difficult and sometimes even fully broken.

The success of any holistic marketing team relies on the understanding of these different decision modes while trying to focus more on generating valid options (for the marketing scientists) and on more seriously dissecting available information (for the creative marketer). It’s not about the right or wrong way, it’s about enhancing the existing modus operandi to combine the power of scientific and creative minds.


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