Projectable, Innovative or Simple? Pick Two

We asked some of our favorite bloggers to provide us a “lost gem” – a great article that deserved wider response than it received the first time it was published. This piece by Kathryn Korostoff was originally published April 15 on her Research Rockstar blog.

“Cheap, fast or good. Pick two.” It’s a bit of dogma often claimed by market researchers, though it is circulated in other fields as well (including software development).

Why is it so popular? Primarily because it does pass the gut test: market research projects that are fast and good are unlikely to be cheap. Ones that are cheap and fast are unlikely to be good, and so on.

However, the dogma has become outdated. Thanks to new technologies and methodologies, market research projects are being completed faster and less expensively than they once were—and are still meeting quality needs. Or to employ yet another over-used aphorism, we have learned to do more, with less.

Of course, we still make trade-offs in designing and executing market research studies. Just different ones.

Today, the balancing act is no longer about cheap, fast or good. Today it is about projectable, innovative or simple.

tradeoff triangle projectable innovative or simple

We often want research that is projectable, such that it accurately describes a target market or population of interest.

We also often want research that is simple, such that its risks can be managed and it can be delivered according to intended budget and schedule parameters.

And these days, we are also often seeking innovation. Not for the sake of innovation itself, but for the sake of overcoming known issues such as the limitations of self-reported behavior and the need for more accurate emotional measures.

Yet these are trade-offs.  Cool new methods and tools that help us gain rich projectable insights into emotions aren’t simple.  Market research projects that are simple and innovative are rarely projectable. And based on my experience, those that are simple and projectable are rarely innovative.

What do you think: Is the current trade-off between projectable, innovative or simple? And if so, can you think of a project you have done that was, in fact, all three? Is it possible?

Kathryn Korostoff is president of Research Rockstar, a market research training firm. You can follow her on Twitter @ResearchRocks.


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