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Discovery as a Discipline

Justin Watkins

June 2016

At any one time you’re either in Discovery Mode or Delivery Mode. Discovery is the insight, the idea that guides what we Deliver. The funny thing is, we all admire the Discovery moments but rarely make time for them as we’re obsessed with the daily Delivery.

discover-delivery

For mature organizations especially, Delivery is the name of the game. The idea or aha! was decided on long ago, so delivering with efficiency is the name of the game. But the smartest businesses realize that even the best Delivery has a time limit. Eventually an upstart group can beat them to a new Discovery and disrupt their market share.

Marketing is no different. There’s a time to optimize Delivery to ensure you’re driving cost-per-acquisitions down and conversions up. Likewise, there are times to Discover: to take a big step back to question brand positioning, messaging hierarchy, and marketing mix.

Making Discovery a discipline is essential to keep things fresh. To break down how, I’m feeling a 3-step listicle coming on …

1) Invite perspectives

The day-to-day grind can give any team tunnel vision. It’s one reason we look at lateral industries just as often as the competitive set during our strategy sessions. Drawing from those parallels and inviting a team with unique backgrounds and skill-sets lays the groundwork for new breakthroughs.

2) Make time

Discovery takes time. Undivided time that will compete with pressing deadlines. Setting time aside will not be easy. And as we’ve all experienced, a few hour-long internal meetings often yield good discussion and not much else. You need a big bucket of hours from enterprising folks. Which ironically may become the slogan for our content strategy work…

3) Hire for it

Who’s looking out for what’s next? Who can justify a switch in strategy? Discovery within an organization occurs at all levels. What’s important is knowing whose role it is. As an example, the original idea for NATIVE was to build a talented team of content creators. Nothing more. The problem with that is, without data-minded stat geeks (read: people smarter than me) sitting nearby you’re just making stuff that looks cool. So we’ve set out to create a two-sided company: content creation (Delivery) and – as a means to justify those creative endeavors – content strategy (Discovery).

discover-delivery-list

Wrapping it up

As the advertising slogan goes “It Pays to Discover” but I’d say it’s closer to “It’s Costly Not to Discover.” Keeping up requires discipline. Deadlines and packed schedules are against you. Find your team. Find the time. And jump ahead of the game.