Friday, June 16, 2006

The 5-Step Research Cycle

It's Deadlock: Planetary Conquest, a strategic war game made by Accolade, that knocked my head with the idea of the possibilities and the necessities in applying research approach and principals in everything in life, if you want to be the best on it.

The first time I played the game, I was defeated very easily, even using the easiest level.
I tried many times, but lost as many as that, deadlock!

Then I started to learn that I have a better chance of winning by investing in Universities for research, while making sure that I have enough troops and defense systems to protect my colony from any hostile neighbours.

Research gives me the technology to upgrade factories, create sophisticated war machines and improve defense systems. It increases production of food, woods, mine, energy, enable me to build even more sophisticated universities, and brings more money from trades.

In war, the one with the best technology, strategy and tactics will win. Plain and simple. But since we deal with people, the game also teaches the importance of people and maintaining people's moral.

In life, continuous research can make a big difference. If you are an owner of a restaurant, you'll get better chance to succeed by doing a couple of research such as: place to buy the best value good quality raw materials, target customers (style, preference, how to touch their heart and mind), product offering (menu selection, recipe, taste, how to cook, how to serve), price setting, place to rent / invest, competitive and complimentary players, enviroment, etc. In short, you need to do Business Intelligence.

Kenichi Ohmae once wrote in one of my favorite books the Mind of the Strategist, what he called Strategic Triangle or Strategic 3Cs: Corporation, Customer, Competition. A few years back I add it with and E= Environment (ideology-politics-economy-social-culture and security factors), the space, time and context where and when the company operates.

By doing Business Intelligence you and your people shall one day be the ones who know best about the business: the company, the customer, the competition and the environment, more than anybody else.

One of important lessons I got from Kaplan & Norton is the statement: "if you can't measure it, you can't manage it". Based on this very idea, I use the terminology of Company Intelligence Score (including Principal Intelligence Score, in a distribution company), Customer Intelligence Score, Competitive Intelligence Score, and Environment Intelligence Score.

The CompaIS (Company Intelligence Score) measures our knowledge about the people, the process and the system in the company, that will help us to perform tasks or to accomplish objectives. CIS provides measurement of knowledge about our customers (both professional and personal). CompeIS (Competitive Intelligence Score) and EIS shall be established to accomplish the same objectives.

I define research as a 5-step cycle activities: collecting, storing, retrieving, analyzing, and utilizing data and information. Needless to say that research objective has to be defined first.

Data collected with sound research methodologies and tools, shall be stored safely and efficiently, in a way that it can be retrieved fast enough without significant effort when it's needed.

I define "analysis", the fourth step, as brain work to identify option of actions, using both vertical and lateral thinking approach advised by Edward deBono.

The fifth step, "utilizing" contains two steps: making decision and doing execution. Decision is made based on available resources, some historical and contextual considerations. Once the decision is made, it has to be executed flawlesly. An execution will result in some degree of effects to us and / or the business, that will feed to the first step of the cycle, and so it goes.

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