Mark Ritson’s column called for business chiefs to leave the boardroom and “walk the floor” frequently. Read the column here http://www.marketingweek.co.uk/markritsonfloor and see some comments below
The only way to know how your brand or company is really viewed is to work out a way to get out there at the same level as the people you sell to, or who use the service/product. You then need the organisational clout to make the necessary changes happen.
I disagree with Adam’s comment on floor walking being more valuable than covering more traditional methods of research. If a senior manager (or whatever level) is “floor walking” then the behaviour of staff and customers will undoubtedly be different to that when the boss is not there. This wouldn’t happen if an independent company/ researcher was collecting data.
Most CEOs or CFOs would not be able to do this. And even if they did, how many have the listening skills to actually learn anything? Answer: not many.
The real value of a walkabout is in identifying what questions need to be asked of the business, and not as a shortcut to decision making.
Mark Ritson replies: Adam is right – a lot of quant research provides data that is empirically correct but lacking in insight. Walking the floor has big advantages over such research because it is immediate and not dependent on good questionnaire design.
But where I side with Henry is what you do after you walk the floor. It provides excellent insight but to ensure what you are seeing in one spot is true across the business, you need good quant data. I saw this being done at Walmart. Senior execs would spot a trend or issue on the floor, but then turn to their EPOS data to check if it was correct across the US.