Reflection on the process and effect of the mitigation of personal biases
Conducting strategic consultancy for the company means on the on one hand to improve issues they are perceiving and developing strategies into the direction they want to move, but on the other hand, and most importantly, investigating broader than they would like us to. It is relatively easy for a company to find goals and visions where to head, while it is rather difficult to assess what is in the way of achieving this as it requires great self-reflection and weakness analysis, which many companies fail to do.
Within our project there are many means to prevent biases. The strongest tool in my opinion is research. Including primary but also secondary research is giving validity and shows that we are looking beyond the company structures. It is important to not only talk to the company, but also to partners, competitors, and other relevant stakeholders. Within our project so far, we have done this by talking to multiple employees, customers and competitors of Royal Steensma. This gave us a clearer picture about the company and their functions and operations. The company wants us to strongly focus on exporting to new markets, while for us it is still important to make sure to look into their internal quality system , logistics and existing markets to assure there is nothing in the way of success for future market entries, even though the company tells us this is already on the highest performing level. Being critical is key here, in general to avoid biases. Is it realistic that within their company, specifically three different departments, there is everything going perfect? Could be, but with a critical thought unlikely. The last main mean of avoiding biases is personal detachment and being aware of our strategic function. While it seems like we work for the company, under their lead, it is key to be aware that we actually work as independents to judge their position and strategy from an outside point of view. Keeping this in mind allows personal detachment and prevents biases.
So why is it so important to avoid being bias? If we would simply investigate the situation from Royal Steensma’s perspective, it is very likely that the research result will not be sustainably pleasing. Being bias minimizes first of all the outcomes, as it means only thinking through options, possibilities and opportunities that are familiar. This therefore prevents innovation, which is what actually benefits the company the most.
Therefore, it is truly important to be critical, conduct valid primary and secondary research and be clear of our function within the process. We have followed this so far, which is why I strongly believe our research will not be characterized by biases.
The last step is then to be able to summarize the results within a reasonable conclusion. We are not yet in the process that we have summarized actual research results. Though one effective mean of doing this is coding. Marking most important aspects and writing a conclusion which contains all of these key aspects. The conclusion is always written last, to be able to include all the key elements of the research.
Personally, I take a lot from this assignment. When I have an idea I get very excited about it and sometimes forget to keep an “outsiders opinion”. Especially with currently founding my own business I realize it is important to conduct research from very different perspectives, especially from the target audience, and avoid getting to caught up in own thoughts and patterns. Personal biases can lead to a distorted reality and can be the basis for crucial mistakes. An example of this can be found in the design process, when designing my garments it is important to not only focus on what I personally like, I also have to a great extent consider what my target audience prefers, otherwise I will not be able to sell the garments to the consumers. On the other hand though personal biases can also be positive, for instance when using own experiences as a basis to create customer value. I believe it is the right combination between including personal opinions and experiences while conducting outside research to determine the best solution and avoid biases.