Your Marketing Minute Newsletter

How to Make Better Innovation & Marketing Decisions:
The "Think vs. Know" Test

When you need to make significant business decisions, try our simple, powerful workshop activity we call Think vs. Know.

  1. Identify the innovative program, product, or campaign.
  2. Convey that effective decision-making requires distinguishing facts from assumptions, beliefs, hopes, and guesses. Set egos aside.
  3. Identify and list what you think vs. know about how desirable the proposed innovation is. Consider people factors, including what problems it will solve, what needs it will meet, and perceptions.
  4. Repeat the process for viability by exploring business factors like ROI, fit with your brand identity, competition, and so on.
  5. Repeat again considering feasibility of technology factors, including what it would take and your capacity to deliver.
  6. Decide what on the "Think" side is too risky to live with and what you’ll do about it.
  7. Congratulate yourselves for all you do know, for your commitment to innovate effectively, and for your honesty!

This activity made a med device client aware that their planned campaign was based almost solely on “think” factors, leading them to re-assess and change direction. It led another client to stop and validate several major assumptions before moving forward on their product innovation plans. And at ResearchWorks, it enlightened us to our differing comfort levels with ambiguity around innovation, which led to better internal communications.

When you do Think vs. Know, you demonstrate it’s okay to not know everything, you set expectations for transparency, and you model how to make better marketing and innovation decisions.

Note: Thank you to Doug Solomon and IDEO for the People/Business/Technology triumvirate.


Moshe Engelberg, Ph.D., M.P.H.
ResearchWorks, Inc.

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