• Jason Partridge

Back to the Future. Why innovation teams need to get back to business, before it’s too late.


Ok. We made it.


2020 is in the rear view mirror.


And sure. It wasn’t easy for some of our clients. Many innovation and insight teams had to hit pause on their long-term planning.


Instead, they turned to MotivBase to better understand short-term cultural changes taking place as a result of Covid-19.


But some of our biggest and best clients actually accelerated their long-term planning. And it’s due to a little secret I will share with you by the end of this article.


When I’m asked for a metaphor to describe what MotivBase does, I like to say it is a flashlight in a dark room. We use AI to study the meanings that consumers link and associate with things in culture.


By mapping this meaning, we are able to shed light on the biggest opportunities. Because meanings reveal long-term, healthy trends.


The challenge with Covid-19 is that many companies got so scared of what was happening, they dropped the flashlight all together. Instead they started focusing on reactionary initiatives to counter short-term shifts in consumer behavior.


Look. We get it. It was a crazy year, and I for one, hope I never have to use the word “unprecedented” ever again.


But the companies that are going to thrive in the next 3 to 5 years are the ones that never stopped looking out to what the future had in store. Or, they paused briefly but are now looking back to the future (wait a minute… that’s the name of this article!) to plan accordingly.


In fact, Harvard Business Review was reinforcing this message as early as last June. In their article “Why Now Is The Time for “Open Innovation” Linus Dahlander and Martin Wallin call out a number of ways that companies should be taking advantage of our current predicament.


This future-forward approach is important, because solving for 2021 isn’t enough. Clients need long-standing innovations that are going to withstand the test of time. They also need help understanding the ideal timeline for launching new solutions and renovations for some of their biggest brands.


They need to know where culture is going.


But how do you do so, when there is still so much uncertainty? So many organizations feel like they are frozen in place, struggling to understand if something is just a short term blip created by Covid-19 versus a critical, valuable and meaningful long-term, healthy trend?


So what do you do? Well, remember that secret I promised you?


You identify trends that were already growing pre-covid. And ideally, you measure to see if Covid-19 has caused them to accelerate.


You measure the meanings that are shaping consumer culture, to find out where Covid-19 has acted like gas, being poured on the fire. Because the fire was burning before the pandemic. The unprecedented situation has just been an accelerant.


That is what Motivbase has been designed to do. And that is why we are the flashlight many insight and R&D teams have been fumbling to find in the dark.


At MotivBase, our goal from day one was to help our clients predict where culture was heading.


By taking proven social science theories from the past century and finding innovative ways to leverage big data to make them more powerful, and more relevant than ever before, we’ve been able to help our clients solve problems that were, before our engagement, unsolvable. And while yes, it is a model that can be used to culturally identify acquisition targets that will grow in relevance with consumers, or pinpoint consumer needs that yield award-winning innovations, our goal is to take the fear out of some of the most stressful aspects of the innovation process. Because the insights are not just powerful. They are sized, and measured and prioritized.


With the ability to look back at where culture was before Covid-19, measure the changes in culture that have taken place during Covid-19 we are able to better calculate how consumers will act after Covid-19.


By looking back to the past, we can help you get back to focusing on the future.


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