Hoarding runs on a spectrum - from reality TV show fodder to tiny home minimalism. But, what about the clutter we may be accumulating within our brands and businesses? The data and metrics, the insights, and opportunities. You, like us, may have sat in on, or led, many an ideation session to diverge and build your stockpile of next big things. You may have binders and folders filled with data. We hang on to that stuff. After all, we may need it … someday.
But make no mistake, too much of a good thing may just be mental clutter getting in your way. Being bogged down in ideas and information might not seem like a problem, until it is. What are you not working on and what priorities are you not able to focus on because you’ve got so much swirling around and heaped up on your desktop?
Enter, Marie Kondo’s Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (the cultural phenomenon/home decluttering how-to book). Her method has you sort by categories (not rooms), systematically going through your belongings in a specific order– clothing, books, etc. Going item by item and touching each one, you keep the objects that spark joy and let go of the ones that don’t.
The logic is that we tend to hold on to things for one of three reasons – because we are afraid of the future (you own 3 vacuum cleaners in case one breaks), you can’t let go of the past (you keep all of your high school clothing because maybe you can fit into it again), or because you are living in the moment (you keep the framed photo of your trip to Spain because it brings you joy).
As it is with belongings, so it is with data, information, and ideas.
Here are 3 proven ways we declutter and organize in order to re-gain focus, prioritize, and spark brand strategy and growth idea joy:
1. Take Out Everything You Own (aka The Immersion Sessions)
On many of our projects we start with an immersion into past learning and data on a given topic, category, or consumer target. We want to understand what the business team already knows (or doesn’t even realize they know) about the subject in order to build greater understanding, but more importantly, ensure we are not unnecessarily duplicating current knowledge.
We host an immersion session with the business team -- typically in a 3 to 4-hour session -- so everyone involved hears and sees the same information and we can align on what is known and what learning gaps exist that we want to address in our insights work. Within this process, we also capture the team’s ingoing hypotheses around the topic (i.e. what we think we know, what we may expect to hear and find, etc.). This then informs the questions and discovery we do going forward.
Decluttering Tip: Marie Kondo stresses the importance of holding each object in your hand to see if it sparks joy or not. As you take inventory of your ideas – what are you holding onto because you are afraid of the future or stuck in the past? What needs to be replaced or upgraded?
2. Tidy as You Go (aka The Rolling Debrief)
Within the course of an insights and strategy initiative, we accumulate a lot of data and information. We may be casting a wide net to discover and diverge around a customer segment, occasion or category. We may be digging into how shoppers engage across channels and within different retailers. Through this we uncover a lot. Some of the secret sauce in how we synthesize our learning is related to not waiting until the end of our discovery period to sift through and start to make sense of it all.
Instead, we build in pause points to debrief and consider what we have learned and how it might start to emerge as patterns or themes. We often draft "rolling debriefs" that we take from one consumer engagement or market to the next. This allows us to capture relevant knowledge and start to make meaning of it while we keep learning and building upon that initial set of data. It might lead to some new questions or territories to dive into as well.
Decluttering Tip: Marie Kondo notes that you will always have to do some type of tidying, but you just won’t have as much stuff to tidy once you let go of things that aren’t serving you. Her example is the daily mail. The temptation is to just dump your mail in one place, open what interests you, and set other things aside. Instead, open and sort everything right there – most of it can go in the recycling bin or be set aside to pay at the end of the month.
3. Keep the Things that You Love (aka The Synthesis Sessions)
Ignite 360’s end-of-project synthesis sessions allow the business team to engage in all that we’ve uncovered and learned AND be involved in driving toward implications and action for their brand and business. We often bring in data, so the team can get hands-on with it in a half-day or full-day session.
The data takes various forms such as transcripts from qualitative interviews, survey data, video footage, photos from consumers and even artifacts to represent a customer’s life, values, purchase behavior, etc. We utilize different exercises to interact with the data while we also work toward connecting the dots and identifying big themes. There is a structure to each session that helps us start broadly and then narrow in. This is where we start to really converge.
As the insights and themes are identified, we tap into the business team’s experience and ideas around implications for the business as well as how, what we learned, could inspire new ideas, action, and growth.
Decluttering Tip: This is the point when the idea changing magic happens. At this stage, you’re primed to let go of ideas that aren’t working because you’ve strengthened your decluttering muscle. By getting to the ideas that really spark, you can answer the question: what does the business need to keep in order to grow the business?
Ideating works best in a decluttered space - you can generate all the ideas you want, but if they are just being added to the pile of idea clutter, then the good ones won’t stand out.
Need to make space for new ideas and want some help - let’s talk about it firstname.lastname@example.org
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