WELCOME TO OUR BLOG!

The posts here represent the opinions of CMB employees and guests—not necessarily the company as a whole. 

Subscribe to Email Updates

Talia Fein

Recent Posts

Happiness is...

Posted by Talia Fein

Wed, Dec 21, 2016

 

happiness is.jpeg
My senior year of college I interviewed at several market research firms. While there was a lot to like about many of them, CMB had a unique vibe that convinced me this was where I should start my career. As it turned out, my instincts were right. CMB was fantastic at teaching a novice associate like me the fundamentals of Market Research; I quickly developed a love for the clients, the work, and “All Things Data.” 

When I left CMB after three years for a chance to live overseas and then a stint in D.C., I had experience working with incredible brands, super-smart colleagues, and I’d developed a competitive skillset. Almost two years ago, I was offered the opportunity to return and rather than rely on my gut, I had to answer questions my 22-year-old self hadn’t considered:

What made CMB so special?

In the New York Times op-ed “The One Question You Should Ask About Every New Job,” Adam Grant, professor of management and psychology at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, discusses the relationship between company culture and happiness in the workplace. “Although finding the right title, position and salary is important,” he writes, “there’s another consideration that matters just as much: culture. The culture of a workplace — an organization’s values, norms, and practices — has a huge impact on our happiness and success.”

What does it mean to have good company culture, and how do you find it?

In writing this blog post, I asked a few people what company culture means to them, and specifically, what they considered characteristics of a good company culture. Responses were what you’d probably expect: Ping-pong tables, Friday happy hours, free lunch.  In short, answers were unanimous: good company culture means fun and free food.

Really? The holy grail of work happiness is free food?

OK, it’s a little more complicated than a couple slices of pizza. In his article, Grant cites a classic study that analyzed employee stories from across industries about their workplaces. In the study, researchers identified three fundamental themes: Justice (Is it a fair place?), Security (Is it safe to work there?) and Control (Can a person shape their destiny and have influence in the organization?). Ironically, these stories underscore an organizational uniqueness bias – people think their company culture is more unique than it really is.

But organizational uniqueness bias aside, this study also suggests that company culture isn’t defined by free food. Rather, it’s defined by an organization’s values.

That’s not to discredit the tangible stuff. Those things certainly are important to a company’s culture.  In fact, MIT professor Edgar H. Schein calls that stuff “the most visible parts of an organization’s culture… [its] artifacts and practices — how people talk, look and act.” But he, like the study Grant cited, contends that more important than overt office perks are the company’s operating principles.  [ twitter icon.png Tweet this!]

So how do we identify those proverbial “company values?” Despite organizational uniqueness bias, I’ve noticed a few CMB characteristics that have made it special to me:

  1. The organization feels “flat” (i.e., non-hierarchical)

Of course we have job titles and levels (see #3 below), but at CMB each person knows they are valued and their opinions are valid and respected. Our founder and CEO, Anne Bailey Berman, encourages us all to “be a squeaky wheel” – CMBers aren’t afraid to speak up because we know we’ll be heard.

  1. “We are a group of lively and engaging individuals”

Even though that’s a direct quote from the old CMB website (at least two or three website iterations ago), it still rings true today. And while a lot of companies make similar claims, I’d venture to say some are exaggerating. But not CMB. In fact, every CMB job description includes a line that says we’re looking for people who are “collaborative, enthusiastic, and who can put their ego aside, roll up their sleeves and get the job done.” To me, this line perfectly describes the CMB vibe.

  1. The company wants us (as individuals) to succeed

At every level and in every corner of the organization, CMB leadership is invested in individual development and growth (both personal and professional). Beyond our job responsibilities, we’re encouraged to learn and grow in experience whether through our internal mentorship program, a workshop, conference, or something else. A great example of CMB’s commitment to individual success is our ability to choose our career path. Research associates are given the opportunity to choose their trajectory based on their skills and interests. In carving our own paths, we’re able to excel in our jobs and deliver better experiences and results for our clients.

Organizational uniqueness bias may suggest that people think their organization’s cultures are more distinctive than they really are, but I believe that CMB’s culture truly is special and unique. It certainly has gotten this CMBer to stick around.

Talia is a Project Manager on CMB’s Technology and eCommerce practice. She was named one of Survey Magazine’s 2015 Data Dominators and as a native Bostonian, couldn’t be happier to be back in the city.

 

Topics: millennials, emotion

A Data Dominator’s Guide to Research Design…and Dating

Posted by Talia Fein

Wed, Jan 20, 2016

people_on_date.jpgI recently went on a first date with a musician. We spent the first hour or so talking about our careers: the types of music he plays, the bands he’s been in, how music led him to the job he has now, and, of course, my unwavering passion for data. Later, when there was a pause in the conversation, he said: “so, do you like music?”

Um. . .how was I supposed to answer that? There was clearly only one right answer (“yes”) unless I really didn’t want this to go anywhere. I told him that, and we had a nice laugh. . .and then I used it as a teaching opportunity to explain one of my favorite market research concepts: Leading Questions.

According to Tull and Hawkins’ Marketing Research: Measurement and Method, a Leading Question is “a question that suggests what the answer should be, or that reflects the researcher’s point of view. Example: “Do you agree, as most people do, that TV advertising serves no useful purpose?”

In writing good survey questions, we need to give enough information for the respondent to fully answer the question, but not too much information that we give away either our own opinions or the responses we expect to hear. This is especially important in opinion research and political polling when slight changes in word choice can create bias and impact the results. For example, in their 1937 poll, Gallup asked, “Would you vote for a woman for President if she were qualified in every other aspect?” This implies that simply being a woman is a disqualification for President. (Just so you know: 33% answered “Yes.”) Gallup has since changed the wording—“If your party nominated a generally well-qualified person for President who happened to be a woman, would you vote for that person?”—and the question is included in a series of questions in which “woman” is replaced with other descriptors, such as Catholic, Black, Muslim, gay, etc. Of course, times have changed, and we can’t know exactly how much of the bias was due to the leading nature of the question, but 92% answered “Yes” as recently as June 2015.

The ordering of questions is just as important as the words we choose in specific questions. John Martin (Cofounder and Chairman of CMB, 1984-2014) taught us the importance—and danger—of sequential bias. In writing a good questionnaire, we’re not only spitting out a bunch of questions and receiving responses—we’re taking the respondent through a 15 (or 20 or 30) minute journey, trying to get his/her most unbiased, real, opinions and preferences. For example, if we start a questionnaire by showing a list of brands and asking which ones are fun and exciting, and then ask unaided which brands respondents know of, we’re not going to get very good data. Just like if we ask a person whether he/she likes music after talking for an hour about the importance of music in our own lives, we might get skewed results.

One common rule when it comes to questionnaire ordering is to ask unaided questions before aided questions. Otherwise, the aided questions would remind respondents of possible options—and inflate their unaided answers. A couple more rules I like to keep in mind:

  1. Start broad, then go narrow: talk about the category before the specific brand or product.

Remember that the respondent is in the middle of a busy day at work or has just put the kids to bed and has other things on his/her mind. The introductory sections of a questionnaire are as much about screening respondents and gathering data as they are about getting the respondent thinking about the category (rather than what to make for the kids’ lunch tomorrow).

  1. Think about what you have already told the respondent: like a good date, the questionnaire should build.

In one of my recent projects, after determining awareness of a product, we measured “concept awareness” by showing a short description of the product to those who had said they were NOT aware of it and then asking them if they had heard of the concept. Later on in the questionnaire, we asked respondents what product features they were familiar with. For respondents who had seen the concept awareness question (i.e., those who hadn’t been fully aware), we removed the product features that had been mentioned in the description (of course, the respondent would know those).

  1. When asking unaided awareness questions, think about how you’re defining the category.

“What Boston-based market research companies founded in 1984 come to mind?” might be a little too specific. A better way of wording this would simply be: “What market research companies come to mind?” Usually thinking about the client’s competitive set will help you figure out how to explain the category.

So, remember: in research, just as in dating, what we put out (good survey questions and positive vibes) influences what we get back.

Talia is a Project Manager on CMB’s Technology and eCommerce team. She was recently named one of Survey Magazine’s 2015 Data Dominators and enjoys long walks on the beach.

We recently did a webinar on research we conducted in partnership with venture capital firm Foundation Capital. This webinar will help you think about Millennials and their investing, including specific financial habits and the attitudinal drivers of their investing preferences.

Watch Here!

Topics: methodology, research design, quantitative research

Survey Magazine Names CMB’s Talia Fein a 2015 “Data Dominator”

Posted by Talia Fein

Wed, Sep 23, 2015

Talia Fein, CMB, Survey Magazine, Data DominatorEvery year, Survey Magazine names 10 “Data Dominators,” who are conquering data in different ways at their companies. This year, our very own Talia Fein was chosen. She discusses her passion for data in Survey Magazine’s August issue, and we’ve reposted the article below.

When I first came to CMB, a research and strategy company in Boston, I was fresh out of undergrad and an SPSS virgin. In fact, I remember there being an SPSS test that all new hires were supposed to take, but I couldn’t take it because I didn’t even know how to open a data file. Fast forward a few months, and I had quickly been converted to an SPSS specialist, a numbers nerd, orperhaps more appropriately—a data dominator.  I was a stickler for process and precision in all data matters, and I took great pride in ensuring that all data and analyses were perfect and pristine. To put it bluntly, I was a total nerd.

I recently returned to CMB after a four-year hiatus. When I left CMB, I quickly became the survey and data expert among my new colleagues and the point person for all SPSS and data questions. But it wasn’t just my data skills that were being put to use. To me, data management is also about the process and the organization of data. In my subsequent roles, I found myself looking to improve the data processes and streamline the systems used for survey data. I brought new software programs to my companies and taught my teams how to manage data effectively and efficiently.

When I think about the future of the research industry, I imagine survey research as being the foundation of a house.  Survey data and data management are the building blocks of what we do. When we do them excellently, we are a well-oiled machine. But a well-oiled machine doesn’t sell products or help our clients drive growth. We need to have the foundation in place in order to extend beyond it and to prepare ourselves for the next big thing that comes along. And that next big thing, in my mind, is big data technology. There is a lot of data out there, and a lot of ways of managing and analyzing it, and we need to be ready for that.  We need to expand our ideas about where our data is coming from and what we can do with it. It is our job to connect these data sources and to find greater meaning than we were previously able to. It is this non-traditional use of data and analytics that is the future of our industry, and we have to be nimble and creative in order to best serve our clients’ ever-evolving needs.

One recent example of this is CMB’s 2015 Mobile Wallet study, which leveraged multiple data sources and—in the process—revealed which were good for what types of questions. In the case of this research, we analyzed mobile behavioral data, including mobile app and mobile web usage, along with survey-based data to get a full picture of consumers’ behaviors, experiences, and attitudes toward mobile wallets. We also came away with new Best Practices for how best to manage passive mobile behavioral data, as it presents new challenges that are unique from managing survey data. Our clients are making big bets on new technology, and they need the comprehensive insights that come from integrating multiple sources. We specifically sampled different sources because we know that—in practice—many of our clients are being handed multiple data sets from multiple data sources. In order to best serve these clients, we need to be able to leverage all the data sources that are at our and their disposal so that we can glean the best insights and make the best recommendations.

Talia Fein is a Project & Data Manager at Chadwick Martin Bailey (CMB), a market research consulting firm in Boston. She’s responsible for the design and execution of market research studies for Fortune 500 companies as well as the data processing and analysis through all phases of the research. Her portfolio includes clients such as Dell, Intel, and Comcast, and her work includes customer segmentation, loyalty, brand tracking, new product development, and win-loss research.

Topics: our people, big data, data integration