Applying the Three Approaches
All three of these ways of looking at the world are enormously enabling and yet limiting at the same time. In our discussions, our executives don’t see using them as “either-or” but rather, “What mix, and when?” Here are some guidelines synthesized from their advice:
- When you can’t get on the same page, lead with Venus. Research shows that humans are wired for stories3, so the Venusian approach is the most effective common denominator for driving the strategic alignment process in a heterogeneous senior team. But don’t forget the numbers: Quantitatively expressed facts about yields and costs can then be layered into the stories to provide proportion and help you generalize the points your narratives make.
- When you need to maximize your near-term ROI and have limited degrees of freedom to build new stuff, emphasize Mars. Move pragmatically but persistently toward the fully-attributed future by adding more variables, source by source, to your analysis. Prioritize each successive addition by the magnitude of your spending and your flexibility to act. (It may, for example, be easier to tweak your promotional strategy, or your digital spending, than to redo your TV campaign.) Wring as much result from your existing spending through shrewd “trading” so you have more to reinvest in the re-imagined future.
- When you need to accelerate progress, be an Earthling. Don’t over-think, look for obvious improvements you can make quickly, and focus on stringing together a series of these successes to get the ball rolling. Momentum is strategic, too. But make sure as you do these things that you don’t just measure your progress in lines of code, but in their impact on key operating metrics (like the ones Avinash Kaushik described)—and watch for diminishing returns to tell you when to shift gears.
Figure 1.2 summarizes the perspectives and when to apply them. Even as you emphasize one approach for a particular set of circumstances, keep pilot lights lit under the others. It won’t just help you get better answers—it will also make folks with different inclinations feel heard, which is just as (or more) important.
Figure 1.2 Analytic Orientation