Unlocking the Value of Learning Beyond Launches

Michelle Hayward and Jake Taylor, Authors

On the hunt for growth and eager to tap all the potential insights that help point toward tomorrow’s best product launches (and most profitable business models), many leaders now turn to Test & Learns. But as design thinkers and innovation specialists, we’ve witnessed a widespread problem: a failure to commit to big ideas and dedicate the necessary resources to develop learnings into transformational growth.

Missed Opportunities in Today’s Testing & Learning

Our practice focuses on diagnosing problems and driving new actions. So when we started to see the same Test & Learn tensions arising…


Marcy Barson, author

COVID-19 drove consumer learning into virtual spaces. As growth specialists with a broad practice (and hundreds of interviews on our calendar every quarter), we embraced the possibilities and welcomed new participants. And to our surprise, we came to appreciate one group in particular: pre-teens. Talking to kids always gave us hope for our future. In 2020, they became the irrepressible insight-sharers our clients needed, well worth engaging on their own terms.

Pre-teens have always been bright, observant and renowned for their unfiltered commentary. But before the pandemic, they were inaccessible during 80% of normal business hours (between…

Photo: Getty Images

Wade Coffin, author

Nearly every presenter will experience “detractors”: attendees who speak up, weigh in and try to redirect the discussion. They’re distracting, and they put the presentation’s objectives and planned outcomes at risk. For a workshop leader, responsible for presenting a complete agenda in carefully-allotted time, a detractor’s concerns can derail everyone’s focus and drain the positive, constructive energy from the room.

Follow these steps to manage “detractor situations” that arise in your meetings:

Step 1) Know who will be in the room before you walk into the room. It’s helpful to explore why and how each invited team…

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto via Pexels

Marcy Barson, author

In early 2020, as COVID-19 restrictions multiplied, many consumer strategists questioned continuing their qualitative research. Reasonably, they feared that input from stressed, distracted consumers would be skewed by their virus-related tensions. But smart questions drive innovation, so we decided to ask a big one: Why try to overcome the limits of traditional practices when we can design new ones? By exploring what’s uniquely possible now, we’re breaking unexpected new ground — and yielding some of the deepest insights we’ve seen.

With empathy, we first approached our client partners in March and April about wading into the unknown…

Image by Chris Montgomery (Unsplash); Edited by Marni Kanne

Lucy Flanagan, Author

In life and in business, relationships are built on trust, and never is trust more important than during times of uncertainty. We’re all accustomed to developing our business relationships through in-person engagement; after some planning calls and emails, a live meeting marks a level of mutual investment that’s tough to replicate virtually. But in the context of COVID-19, we have no choice. It’s time to recognize and embrace how screens-only contact feels and works, and adopt new, human practices that can truly connect us.

Virtual collaboration isn’t new, of course. Many of us have been joining team…

Author, Taylor Brown

By now, workforces that could transition to working remotely in response to COVID-19 have made the shift. And their leaders are thinking about their next great challenge: innovating to advance large-scale remote collaboration. While individual productivity remains strong, organizational momentum will stall if businesses can’t find effective ways to galvanize practices, not just people, virtually.

The recent cultural jolt requires leaders to fast-track digital integration efforts, reimagining virtual engagements as an essential new practice, not a pilot nor a placeholder.

As a leader navigating the pivot from managing stakeholders in a room to managing teams across screens…

Never before has it been more glaringly obvious which brands have meaningful Cultural Engagement strategies and which ones don’t. In this reality-redefining Cultural Moment, as many brands are scrambling to say something, anything, that could help keep them afloat in the spinning maelstrom of social media scrolling and newsfeed binging-often by scrapping their core communication strategies completely in order to feebly attempt a “relevant” response to the global pandemic situation (we’re looking at you, endless stream of “how we’re responding” emails)-the result is often reduced to riding cultural-dialog coattails via fleeting and trite social media tropes. …

Thanks to COVID-19, businesses of all kinds face once-in-a-generation challenges. But this is also a time of opportunity for those of us who’ve been waiting for a chance to make our mark. If the bold, the curious and the trusted raise their hands and establish value now, they can propel their careers forward. But it’s important for women, in particular, to avoid pitfalls and adhere to some important best practices to ensure our energy and efforts pay off.

We’re no strangers to hard work. But too often, women get left behind when management hands out the rewards. We were raised…

Photos by Marni Kanne, Alexander Sinn & Jakob Owens on Unsplash

Part III: Targeting Connected Possibilities

This article is the third in a 3-part deep dive into connected packaging: what it is, why it’s relevant, and what brands that expect to compete in the digital age need to do next. In Part I, we reviewed the opportunity. In Part II, we explored the movements driving consumer openness. And in this final installment, we outline a process for brands to begin developing their connected packaging strategies.

Author, Mark Hewitt

Read the Series:

Part I: Connected 101

Part II: Connected Trends

Part III: Targeting Connected Possibilities

Pursuing the Connected Potential

The engagement opportunities…

Author, Shannon Murphy


The digital transformation of business. It’s happening. It’s been happening. And its very nature is to keep evolving every minute, every second. Whether we’re talking about e-commerce (online sales), digital marketing (online customer engagement, including social), or data-driven manufacturing and pipeline optimizations, the innovations keep coming. So powerful, they’re downright intimidating. But leaders — and their teams — need to keep their feet on the ground to find their place in the cloud. …


At the front line of business, our team tackles challenges ranging across business transformation, strategy, innovation and brand.

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