Amplify Team Performance

Who does what and how - Olivetree Insights
Define who does what and how, to avoid major spills

The role of insights in the organization is evolving so quickly it can be hard to keep up. Data sources outside of the insights team (e.g. social media from marketing, analytics from sales) compete for leadership attention. The availability of “free marketing research” means that well-meaning but untrained business partners are doing their own research. Our insights teams have access to new capabilities like blended data, geo-fencing, and AI-informed qualitative research, but this might not be known or understood by business partners.

Identifying roles, responsibilities, and principles can help business leaders understand how to get the best insights on which to make decisions. It can also help guide insights team leaders and members in how to bridge gaps between “the old ways” and “the new ways.”

This third and final part of our blog series on creating an Insights Team Charter covers Roles, Responsibilities and Principles: who should be doing what and how.

It can seem basic, but in an ever-changing environment, where a proliferation of DIY research tools make it easier for business partners to conduct their own “down and dirty” research, spelling out who is doing what for whom is important to avoiding confusion and distrust.

What can key stakeholders expect from the insights? Here are examples of the types of role statements that clarify what to expect from the insights team:

  • Deliver actionable insights built on a strong foundation of data and processes to establish results integrity.
  • Recommend best practices and standardized approaches when it makes sense, in order to support consistent, fact-based decision making.
  • Provide guidance to contractors and internal DIY researchers.

And, a couple of examples of what not to expect from an insights team, depending on staffing, expertise, etc.:

  • Staffing to support in-house execution of sophisticated analysis.
  • Resources to moderate focus groups.


It is critical that the insights team lay out the specific duties and obligations related to each person’s role – the responsibilities they will take on for the organization.  Two of the most common ways to structure insights team responsibilities are:

  • By role: Primary research, Secondary research, Data analytics
  • By subject matter expertise: for a business unit, brand, or division

Another way to define responsibilities in the context of roles is based on a project management framework: RACI.

To clarify Roles and Responsibilities, some use a RACI framework

A RACI matrix gives you a better way to describe your multi-project work and how to work together effectively and efficiently to deliver insights that drive decisions. The core purpose of a RACI matrix is to create clarity across roles. Here’s what RACI stands for:

Responsible – The person or position responsible for doing the activity (the work).

Accountable – The person or position accountable to ensure the activity happens. If things go wrong “it’s their head on the chopping block.”

Consulted – The person or position who should be consulted prior to a decision or action being taken.

Informed – The person or position that needs to be informed after completion of the task or decision is made.

The matrix is created by listing all the steps in the project down and the people involved across the top.  Then, each RACI role is defined as shown in the table below:

Project Step Insights Team Leader Insights Team Project Leader Insights Team Analyst Business Partner A Business Partner B
Major Task 1 R R C A C
Major Task 2 A R I C I
Major Task 3 C A R C I

When working through the process, it becomes easy to identify potential conflict areas and ambiguities so that they can be addressed.  You will quickly learn how people’s perceptions differ from each other and discover a better way of working together.

Here’s a resource for using the RACI matrix:


This is the section where you clarify how the work gets done.  Having consistent processes and procedures that everyone has agreed to helps keep your team on schedule and productive.

Examples include:

  • Consulting engagements start with a brief that functions as a contract between the insights team and business partner.
  • Research integrity fits with the degree of risk.
  • Research expenditures are prioritized for funding based upon the following criteria:
    • Estimates sales impact
    • Actionability of the results
    • Global reapplication

As the workplace becomes more complex and inter-connected, defining the insights’ team member roles, responsibilities, and principles as part of the Team Charter becomes essential to avoid conflicts and misunderstandings with colleagues.

We hope you’ve gotten value out of this Team Charter series. For help in creating your own Team Charter, request more information on our Insights Team Charter Workshop, or email


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Set goals for an engaged team
Set big goals to build a more engaged insights team

Where do you want to steer your insights team in 2019?” was one of our most popular blogs.  Probably not a big surprise considering the changes our profession is going through, so we’re going to provide a three-part Blog series that walks you through the process of creating your Team Charter.

We kick off the series with the Vision and Mission. Of all the elements of the Charter, these are most critical in that they set the stage for defining the team’s reason for existence.  Applying the same theory about the importance of company Visions and Missions to that for a Team Charter, the impact can be just as strong with employee engagement levels increasing to 68%, 19 points above average, according to research (read the article).

While the Vision and Mission in a Team Charter is obviously more limited than a company’s Vision and Mission, these terms are similarly defined. Overall, the Vision and Mission concisely communicate what the team is out to achieve… with the Vision focused on the future, aspirational state and the Mission focused on the present.

The Vision is inspiring and tells the story of the benefits the team creates. Some rules for a team vision statement are:

  • Focus on the impact of your team’s success.
  • Ensure it aligns with the company’s business values and goals.
  • Dream big to provide inspiration.
  • Project into the future (5+ years).

Samples of Insight Team Vision statements are:

  • ‘Deliver competitive advantage.’
  • ‘Be the headlights for the company.’

The Mission is a concrete statement of what the team does and how the team will fulfill the vision. Some rules for a team mission statement are:

  • Focus on how you will achieve the success.
  • Ensure it aligns with the company’s business values and goals.
  • “Ladder up” to avoid getting into the weeds on what your team does.
  • Use the present tense and concise, jargon-free language.

Samples of Insight Team Mission statements are:

  • ‘Embed the customer voice into the heart of the business.’
  • Deliver proactive consulting to help the company innovate.’

Here are two great resources to inspire you as you create these critical statements:

  • The Walmart Global Customer Insights & Analytics team created a video to describe their role in the organization.  One of my favorite quotes is “GCI’s department are the headlights for the company, they help the company look out into the future….”
  • And here’s a video from ARF’s Future of Market Research conference that speaks to the need to “move from insight to foresight.”

Our next blog will cover creating Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to guide you in measuring success – remember, “If it can’t be measured it can’t be managed.”

If you want help creating your Team Charter, sign up for our Start with the Foundation Workshop or email


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Insights Team Charter
Where do you want to steer your insights team in 2019?

Do you sometimes feel like you are pulled in too many directions to really accomplish what you are passionate about?

How long has it been since your Insights team reviewed and refreshed its vision and goals? If you are seeing any of the following issues, the answer might be too long…..

  • Budget and resources are not keeping up with the work demand
  • Scope creep is becoming a worry
  • Growing frustration with non-research team members designing research without expert help
  • An increase in vague analytics requests

These problems might seem disconnected, but they are all potential results of not having a strong enough definition of how the Insights team supports business strategies and what it does and does not do. That is; a team charter.

What’s a Team Charter?
A team charter helps to create energy and focus from team members as well as stakeholders who interact with the team.  It’s a written document that provides a “North Star”  that everyone supports as well as a yardstick that can be used to judge future activities of the team.  The six key elements of a charter are: vision, mission, roles, responsibilities, principles and KPIs.

Team Charter Components

Elements within the charter should be specific and tied to the business needs of the organization. An example of one team mission could be to “deliver proactive consulting to help the company innovate and fuel business growth.” An accompanying KPI for this mission statement could be: Propose 3 innovative insights projects each year.

Boston Consulting Group’s article “How Customer Insights Can Be a Powerful Business Partner” has some ideas for what to include in a charter.

Why a Team Charter?
The benefits of having a Charter include:

  • It creates energy, focus, and buy-in from members, and provides clear direction for members joining the team.
  • It can help recharge a team  that has been in existence for a long time but needs to regroup and refocus.
  • It educates the rest of the organization what your team does and does not do.
  • It maximizes resources by eliminating duplicate projects, efforts, analysis.

How can you create a Team Charter?
The true defining feature of a team charter is that it must be created and supported by every member of the team. A team charter dictated by top management, or a few members at the expense of the input from others, is not a true representation and won’t achieve the objectives driving its creation.

As with any planning activity, the team needs to commit to spending time upfront to build the charter with regular check-ins to make sure it is a living breathing document.

With a clear mission and vision the insights team can focus on its passion – bringing the voice of the customer to the challenges and opportunities facing the organization.

If you are interested in learning more about how our coaches can guide your team in creating a team charter via virtual or in-person workshops, contact


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Tips to improve team performance while aligning insights and business objectives

One of your toughest jobs as an insights leader is to bring together a team that consistently performs on a superior level and produces insights that get action. Team members bring different experience levels and skill sets to the table and its your job to maximize their potential while making sure that the projects in which they are engaged match the business objectives of the company.  You may feel there isn’t enough time to train or develop newer team members, but their communication, strategic thinking and reporting skills as well as the research and analysis methodologies with which they are familiar are key to consistent performance.

“A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.” – Henry Adams

With the number of projects on your plate, taking time for high level strategic thinking and coaching members on a one-on-one basis seems counterintuitive. But this leadership approach is exactly what’s needed. The best leaders are teachers. Better team performance and better alignment of insights and objectives starts with the team. The team starts with you. Here’s how you can incorporate teaching and coaching to improve team performance while better aligning insights and business objectives.

Relevant and Useful Lessons

In a recent article in the Harvard Business Review, Sydney Finklestein shared what he learned from studying stellar leaders over the last ten years. The common thread that wove these leaders together was the amount of time they spent teaching practical lessons in professionalism, life, and points of their craft. Here are a few ways you can lead by teaching.

Professionalism.  Aligning insights with business objectives means team members must ask deep, probing questions. That’s not easy for junior team members or even seasoned members with a deferential personality. Provide coaching on how to ask business partners challenging questions. Share the best methods for effective listening and how to deal with all different personality types. Your team will be better prepared to take a more collaborative approach when developing the insights brief and deliver research that better matches company objectives. By simply investing the time to teach and reinforce these tactics, you’ll be rewarded with higher level performance and business partners will receive actionable insights.

As you stand on the shoulders of your mentors, so shall your team members stand on your shoulders.

Points of Craft. Your team may be able to organize the facts, beliefs, and thoughts necessary to prepare an insights brief, but can they craft a brief that builds expectations about the outcomes of the research/analysis? They can if you teach them. Show them how to develop questions that are focused on the business needs before addressing the research needs. If the team is going to deliver insights that get action, they must be taught to identify the objective that the business has identified for the study; whether it’s improved profitability, or increased sales through market extensions. Share your experience with them.

Life Lessons. You’re a leader, not a parent. Why should you teach life lessons? Effective leaders are mentors. Mentors share innovative thinking and stories about conquering difficulties. At some point we have all experienced post research regret. Share your stories with your team so that they may build on your past experiences. Teach them how you’ve learned to take a situation and manipulate it so that you can see it from various angles and perspectives.

Always Be Teaching

Teachers are always teaching. Whether it occurs naturally in the office or in designated times, almost any time is a time to teach.

On the Job. You should always look for teachable moments and be ready to respond. Whether you operate in an open office environment or have a more traditional work setting, make sure your team members know you are accessible. Practice management by walking around. This allows you to observe your team members in action. Always be open to brief, but in-the-moment coaching conversations, even if they occur in the hallway or elevator.

Great Leaders Create Time for Teaching, They Don’t Wait for Time for Teaching

Designated Times. Great leaders create time for teaching, they don’t just wait for it. Tommy Frist, Jr. is an avid pilot. When he was CEO of HCA he invited his proteges up in his airplane. You don’t need to take to the skies but taking a team member to dinner can provide time for one-on-one conversation. You’ll improve team performance when you take time to teach.

Teaching Techniques

How you deliver is almost as important as what you deliver. Over 2,000 years ago Cicero said, “The higher we are placed, the more humbly we should walk.” It’s still good advice today. Choose conversation over pontification. It will be more effective every time.

Customize.  Tailor the lesson to the individual.  People learn in different ways and have different needs. Your teaching should match both. For example, a team member with a differential personality may need coaching to feel more comfortable in uncomfortable situations such as challenging business partners at a higher organizational level about project assumptions. Role-play. Others need to be pushed to break old habits. Draw on your personal experiences to teach these team members how exploring what’s not included in a project reveals underlying and unstated assumptions. Show examples of how the company benefits when they deliver insights that match company objectives.

Socratic Method.  Take a tip from classroom teachers. Use the Socratic method to ask sharp, relevant questions. Instead of pointing out weaknesses in a draft brief, ask “Do you think your business partner has thought through the problem thoroughly?” or “What additional questions might you have asked for more clarity?” Questions are also a great way to educate yourself. Don’t be afraid to ask questions to find out what team members think.

Modeling. Sometimes just seeing the right behavior is all a team member needs. So, be sure to lead by example. And don’t limit modeling to yourself. Inventory individual team member strengths and create situations so others can learn from them. Does one team member have a great way for eliciting underlying biases and hypotheses of business partners?  Is one team member particularly adept at translating business objectives to research objectives?  Have other members shadow these skill experts and learn through observation.

Coaching Resources

Even the best teachers utilize teaching aids and great leaders know how to use tools to work more effectively.  That’s why DecisionAdvancer comes complete with coaching resources to improve team performance through insights and business objective alignment. These tools include definitions, how to’s and examples for such critical skills as:

Understanding what and how decisions will be made. Going beyond stating the business objective of an insights-based project to identifying the business decisions that will be made. Learn to identify whether it is a “go-no go” situation or if the information is needed for another stage of development.  It’s much easier to recommend the right research and analytics objectives and methodologies if you understand what and how decisions will be made.

Identifying the criteria on which decisions will be made. Going beyond stating the research/analytical objective to identifying the criteria on which decisions will be made. For example, would the percent likely to buy a proposed solution be enough upon which to base a decision?  Or would the decision require more rigorous proof, such as that based on an in-market test?

Identifying the hypotheses and expectations of business partners. Business partners may have beliefs or expectations about the resulting insights and information. For example, they might have some information from the sales team or a distributor that leads them to have certain beliefs as to the popularity of a competitive product. Identifying these hypotheses and expectations gives the insights team a leg-up in analysis and reporting.

Teaching Can Improve Team Performance while Aligning Insights and Business Objectives

The greatest leaders are teachers. It’s true no matter where you are in a company. In the Insights Department, great leaders teach their team to produce projects that address business objectives as well as research objectives. They arm them with the techniques and tools that increase individual and team performance. In the end, if you aren’t teaching, you aren’t leading.

Want to see the Olivetree Insights coaching tools in action? Contact Us or call 513-321-3483 for more information or to schedule a 20-minute demo.

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