As so many have recently had to say—the times are certainly changing—and often in unexpected ways. My life changed dramatically in April when the management of ORC International decided that the firm would focus on its corporate clients and no longer do research in the public and civic services sectors. This meant closing its Seattle office, requiring me to rethink my immediate future.
ORC International is a great company and I valued the years I spent working with them. In our parting, they graciously allowed me to re-launch Northwest Research Group and returned much of the intellectual property relevant to the public and civic services sectors I had originally brought to and continued to develop at ORC.
I am excited to once again be on my own and able to focus on the type of research that my colleagues and I have so passionately provided. Research that has made a difference in the lives of so many. While I can certainly say that I am older than when I first started Northwest Research Group, I am wiser and still focused on how to do better research.
As I moved ahead to reestablish Northwest Research Group, I thought the many learning experiences in my 20 years of managing the original Northwest Research Group (including 6 great years in Boise) and 6 years working with ORC International. This made me realize my opportunity to start with a clean slate rather than having to alter an existing culture. As we are aware, it is often difficult to cast aside the old ways of doing things even as newer and better methods become available. Think about how long you may have held on to your cell phone, non-HDTV, non-hybrid automobiles, etc.
Reflecting on the past, I realize although the scope of managing everything that was the old Northwest Research Group was large, we pretty much focused on getting through each day with limited resources, seeing this as ultimately leading us down the road to success. Moving onto ORC International, I had the opportunity to learn what it was like to be with a larger company with all its resources. However, the view remained that to be a successful company, the focus was on meeting short-term goals expressed in financial terms.
Admittedly, there is nothing wrong with success, and it is hard to be successful when the day to day activities are not going well. But, in re-launching Northwest Research Group, I identified what I believe are four core components of business success:
- Demonstrating a passionate commitment to our clients’ work
- Supporting each client as if they are our only client and working with them to achieve compelling results that can effectively inform their decisions
- Employing research designs, intellectual property, analytics, and recommendations that are based on intellectual rigor, creativity, and practical experience
- Developing a business mode that brings together technical expertise, deep program and industry knowledge, the best service providers in the industry, and world-class analytics in the most efficient and cost-effective manner possible
At the same time that I focused on the path to success, I recognized my opportunity to define other ways to define what it means to be a successful company. Being a researcher, I did some research on definitions of success and found a definition from Dr. Maya Angelou that I think will take Northwest Research Group beyond basic business success in purely financial terms —”Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.”
And as I look back, I find myself thinking that although I have liked myself most days, like what I do most days, and like how I do it most days, there have been many days when I found that I wasn’t all that likeable and I didn’t always like what I do or how I was doing it.
So as my colleagues and I continue to grow and innovate, at the end of the day I want to be able to say:
- Our clients like us and how we work with them and they like what we do and how we do it
- Our partners like us and how we work with them and they like what they do with us and how we do it together
- Our future employees like working with us because they like what they do every day, how they do it, and they can see that what we do and how we do it contributes to them liking themselves and working for NWRG
To this end, we have created what some call a sustainability statement. I am calling it a success statement that is based on three concepts beyond basic business success—caring, sharing, and saving. Watch over the next several weeks as we provide more information on each.