Catapult’s Playbook for Leveling Up
Many of the conversations I have in my line of work are about leveling up. “How do I get somewhere better from here?” is the root of most tactical and strategic projects we work on. While necessary to advance, evolving a brand, a product, or a company is often a risky proposition. Plotting a safe, efficient, and meaningful path from here to there is just as important as understanding where you’re headed – so how is that done?
The value of institutional knowledge cannot be understated. Organizations stand on the shoulders of what their people collectively know about the space they play in, but leveling up generally requires a data-driven approach to light the way forward. That’s because markets, people, and the world are constantly changing around us.
With so much in flux, it’s necessary to track, measure, and analyze data to assist in decision-making. That’s why we love working with our advanced analytics partner, Tom, so much, because the scientific confidence he delivers helps organizations see the detours, pitfalls, and paths to success in leveling up.
One of the biggest x-factors when leveling up are people themselves. People are fascinating, complicated beings, and studying them on a more personal level provides immense value in understanding larger datasets and the human motivations that drive them. Building empathy for key audiences and making space for the voice of the customer to be heard is one of the best ways to ensure your path to leveling up will be meaningful and map to real, humanistic needs.
Transformational change requires a limber approach to balance what is known and what is discovered. Nearly every research engagement, by design, uncovers new insights about the audience and topic, challenging us to reconcile and evolve our understanding and tactfully identify implications for the business. This is all about releasing preconceived notions and putting aside institutional knowledge long enough to consider new possibilities. It’s not devaluing what is already known or the work put in to get here. Rather, this is relaxing the focus on today to be able to envision tomorrow, because transformational paths are not always linear.
Something we watch for in the innovation work we do is individuals becoming possessive of an idea to the point that they unintentionally stifle creative potential. Working together with multiple, talented minds is a more prudent approach to leveling up and achieving better outcomes. This could mean bringing in consultants or working with Creatively Fluid Thinkers to help broaden the way you think about problems and solution development. After all, it doesn’t have to be a singular accomplishment, and doing it well usually requires help. We practice what we preach, too – Catapult was originally just a 2-person shop, and Jill and I recognized the value of partnering with trusted experts to help bring our vision to reality.
Culture of Socialization
Instituting big changes is a journey, so remember to give everyone a seat along the way. Change is a lot less scary when the steps are planned, documented, and clearly shared within your organization. This is also an opportunity to get buy-in and build excitement for what’s to come, which is important because you will undoubtedly encounter friction and having champions will be useful.
Leveling up is inherently different than evolutionary growth. It’s transformative and brisk, and you should bring a scientific mindset to the proof-of-concept phase. There will be unexpected consequences, but that’s not always a sign that it’s not working. Get 80% of the way there, then turn focus on fine-tuning the final stretch. Prepare to re-examine what you know about your business and start building brand new institutional knowledge.
Up close, the custom work we do at Catapult is always taking us in fun, new directions and focusing us on unique research objectives. But from a higher vantage, aren’t we all trying to level up in some way? And with a few best practices you can mitigate risk and stack the deck in your favor.