Don’t know what you don’t know? Try the Big 5 Learnings Method

When you work for a large organisation, you often find that the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing, or has already done.

In other words, you don’t know what you don’t know.

Recently I developed a simple research method that dramatically increased my knowledge going into the strategy planning phase of the year.

The Big 5 Learnings Method

The Big 5 Learnings Method

The Big 5 method is really simple. Just ask everyone you work with:

What have been your big 5 learnings about our business over the last year?

Ask people as many different disciplines as you can, for example:
• Sales
• Product
• Finance
• Marketing
• Brand
• Strategy
• Research
• Analytics
• Agencies (Creative/Media/Digital)
• etc

There are only two rules in this process:
1. Each respondent must get each learning down to one sentence.
2. If it takes longer than 30 minutes to come up with 5 learnings, move on. If it is not top of mind it is not a learning, no analysis paralysis is allowed.

The outcome

When everyone has submitted their learnings, take out any duplicates, then give the document a name such as:

125 facts we learnt about widgets in 2008

Distribute this document to everyone who contributed their learnings. This closes the loop and ensures that everyone benefits from the information.

Senior management will love you

I have found that senior management particularly love this document as it provides them with a wide range of sound bites to add to their arsenal.

I think Sir Isaac Newton said it best:

“If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants”

An Alternative Approach

An alternative would be to use a Wiki so that everyone could see everyone’s learnings and modify or build on them throughout the information gathering process.

The only downside of this approach is that it may frame the conversation so your learnings become homogenous, but it will help eliminate duplicates for you.

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Categories: Communication, Market Research, Marketing Strategy


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