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Gut Decisions Drive Innovation

Gut Decisions Drive Innovation


I worked in the camera business when all cameras used film. And then the change began. A handful of digital camera prototypes were showcased under glass at trade shows to demonstrate the ‘new era’ of photography. Although tech lovers were intrigued, market research clearly demonstrated that the general market didn’t think much about this new concept and wouldn’t consider buying a digital camera. And so, our corporate headquarters decided it would be too risky to bring a digital camera to market … and that we’d sit this one out. Most of our competitors did as well.

Fortunately there were a couple of passionate visionaries at the company who trusted their gut. They courageously put the wheels in motion and, soon we were one of the first manufacturers to offer a digital camera for sale. That vision eventually resulted in a billion dollar global business that has maintained its innovative edge for the past 15 years. If we had played it safe and let the numbers guide our every action we would never have gained our position as a market thought leader.

And as I look back, I realize that Mr. Jobs didn’t focus on research or big data. The focus was imagining a customer experience that was bigger and better than the experience they imagined for themselves.

A recent McKinsey study outlines four criteria for good gut decisions – familiarity, feedback, emotional memory and personal interest. McKinsey goes on to explain that most decisions are, in fact, swayed by emotion. It influences the options we analyze, our framing of situations and the rationalization of final decisions.

In this way, gut decisions infiltrate even the most metric-driven, process-rationalized decision making. Now, I’m not bashing metrics… I love numbers. I revel in the slicing, dicing and reading between the lines of meaningful market data and anecdotal information. But,often a solid, well-founded gut decision is the start of something big.

Marketers should live and breathe their products, their markets and their customers. Vision and passion, combined with deep market knowledge and the courage of your gut, is the stuff that feeds those big, juicy, innovative ideas.

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We are marketing consultants based on Long Island, NY. Over the past 20 years, we've built fierce market leaders in a broad range of businesses - from tiny start-ups to global Fortune 500 companies.  Our experience spans multiple industries from consumer electronics to financial services and from food services to photo.  We're looking forward to talking to you to see how we can help take your business to the next level.