MRA enlisted several researchers attending the Corporate Researchers Conference in Dallas in September to report back summaries & insights from the conference sessions. This report is on “Leading at the Bleeding Edge: Reinventing Roles in the New Normal” by Gayle Fuguitt, formerly Vice President, Global Consumer Insights at General Mills.

Gayle had a tough challenge – the last presenter at the jam-packed three-day 2012 Corporate Researchers Conference and she did not disappoint.  Her presentation was right on point and offered a plethora of tips and tricks for us Corporate Researchers to go back and implement in our daily lives.

Changing roles and terms 70s-80s 90s-2000s Approaching 2020
Benefits Reach Scale Speed
Mindset Science Internet Strategy
Role Model Modelers Insights Storytellers

Gayle presented a Top 10 List of tried and true tips, techniques, teasers and tantalizers for us all to embrace:

10.  A feedback loop + future vision = strategic agenda

  • Ask, listen, act, and close the loop

9. Leaders reinvent themselves

  • You need to set your world class global insights table
  • You should think in terms of scientist, artist and guru
  • Build a table of leaders vs. a table of “me’s”
  • Be an orchestra director vs. a pilot

8.  Reinvent your global insights footprint frequently

  • Check and re! fine your toolkit frequently visa via trends

7.  Align Risk to Rigor

  • Spend on Strategy First

6. Reinvent from a “job shop” to an insight shop

5. Listen.  Next Generation needs guide, not BOSS

  • Invest in their ideas → “skin in the game”
  • One idea is to give 1% of your budget for them to invest in their ideas

4. Promote for deliverables not “time in grade”

  • PAST:  It’s been xxx years so it’s time for a promotion
  • NOW:  It needs to be “I’ve defined $5m in growth opportunity “– it should be about results

3. Quantify the impact of your organization early AND often in “C-Suite-ese” (#’s and $$)

  • Check your objectives / mission
  • Do you “advise”, “consult” or “create, deliver, reinvent”?

2. Work on your voice and have your team practice

  • “Often right, but never heard” paradox

1.  Timing is EVERYTHING

  • Bad decisions make good stories

Gayle offered a variety of insights throughout her presentation:

  • You have to know where you’ve been to know where you are going.
  • Stay connected with internal customers and what they need from MR; respond to the feedback
  • Assemble a strong and diverse colleague network – a balanced table of leaders
  • Evolve toolkit and team structure – role is to generate meaningful insights
  • Spend on strategy projects first
  • Listen and guide next generation – invest in their ideas; get their backs
  • Work on your voice  – grown from “often right; never heard” to “real time; real clear; decisive; engaged”
  • Quantify and share success early and often
  • Keep yourself optimistic and fresh, tenacious, relentless, and fearless

Research Magazine has a great article on Gayle’s 30 years of impact as a client-side researcher.