Saturday, June 09, 2007

"The best fertilizer is the farmer's footsteps." Irish proverb

Developing my ppt deck for next month's Broadcast Futures Summit. Inspired by the work of the brilliant Howard Moskowitz my notion is to develop an experiment. Should you not be familiar with Dr. Moskowitz please listen to his interview via IT Conversations - Technometria: Selling Blue Elephants. Algebra of the mind is Howard's metier.

Highly recommended: Howard's new book and Howard's blog. Here's a cut from Howard's blog...

"I keep noticing something. That something is that some companies do homework, whereas other companies talk and talk, have rules, but don’t do homework. In my company’s business of creating winning messages/ideas (concepts), products and package design, doing homework means creating lots of combinations or test stimuli, not just one. Then, homework means testing these combinations among consumers, looking for what wins, and for a pattern of why winners win, and losers lose. Finally, homework means going beyond these test stimuli (concepts, products, package designs) to create newer and better stimuli based on the learning, and then re-testing to make sure that the winners is improved upon.

This strategy of ‘test – discover – reengineer – validate’ or TDRV (not easy to pronounce) wins again and again. In fact, if the testing is done with systematically varied stimuli, rather than with ‘best guess rifle shots’, then the company (or maybe you) end up knowing ‘how the world works’. The company knows exactly which messages, which product features, which package colors and shapes ‘drive acceptance’. It becomes pretty easy to create winners, and to know why they are winners. So just testing lots of stimuli puts the company way ahead, on the way to innovation."

Simply brilliant! Bravo Howard! Read this entire post here.

Check out Howard's IdeaMap venture here.

Malcom Gladwell
provides a rich back story on Howard here. "The story of World's Best Ketchup cannot properly be told without a man from White Plains, New York, named Howard Moskowitz. Moskowitz is sixty, short and round, with graying hair and huge gold-rimmed glasses. When he talks, he favors the Socratic monologue—a series of questions that he poses to himself, then answers, punctuated by "ahhh" and much vigorous nodding. He is a lineal descendant of the legendary eighteenth-century Hasidic rabbi known as the Seer of Lublin. He keeps a parrot. At Harvard, he wrote his doctoral dissertation on psychophysics, and all the rooms on the ground floor of his food-testing and market-research business are named after famous psychophysicists. ("Have you ever heard of the name Rose Marie Pangborn? Ahhh. She was a professor at Davis. Very famous. This is the Pangborn kitchen.") Moskowitz is a man of uncommon exuberance and persuasiveness: if he had been your freshman statistics professor, you would today be a statistician."

One of Howard's gifts to us is "Rule Developing Experimentation" or RDE. The seven basic steps of RDE...
  1. Identify groups or classes of features that constitute the target product.
  2. Mix and match the elements according to an experimental design to create a set of prototypes.
  3. Show the prototypes to consumers.
  4. Analyze results.
  5. Optimize.
  6. Identify naturally occuring attitudinal segments of the population that show similar patterns of the utilities.
  7. Apply the generated rules to create new products.