Through our work enabling BigCos to operate more like startups, we’ve encountered countless leaders who have taken risks and truly transformed the role of Insights. In the Market Research community, we’ve all been talking for years about how the role of Insights is changing, and it is transforming, but at Quirks Brooklyn and Quirks Chicago Conferences this year, we wanted to get practical about where is the function now, and what changes leaders are making and approaches they are trying.

Panel: Starting to Enable Transformative Change in Your Insights Function

Quirks Brooklyn | March 5-6
At Quirks Brooklyn, Ann Thompson, Co-CEO, will be leading a panel conversation on the impact they’ve made within their organizations and the courage, competencies, and approaches that have equipped them to do it. From their experiences, we’re hoping that attendees learn how and when to take risks, start to drive change within their insights organization, and be more effective in their role. Get exposure to new methods, mindsets and approaches from some of the top brands’ entrepreneurial insights leaders. You’ll leave with actionable ways that you can apply them. See the panelists below.

Panelists include:

Breakthrough Ideas for Kraft Heinz through Innovation Pipeline Sprints

Quirks Chicago | April 2-3

Stacey Cox, Consumer Insights Leader, Kraft Heinz, and Erin Faulk, VP, Lean Growth at The Garage Group, will be sharing behind-the-scenes lessons learned from the trailblazing teams at Kraft Heinz who leveraged a five-day innovation pipeline sprint approach to revitalize their portfolios and fill their three-year innovation pipelines with meaningful, consumer-driven ideas.

With iterative input from constant consumer touchpoints over five days, the teams transformed their historically linear process, their leaders grew through the process, adopting new skills, mindsets, and methods. The team will share the overall approach they took, key enablers that led to their success and lessons they plan to apply to future growth challenges.

Will we see you at either conference? If you are in the are and want to stop by; or are interested in making the trip and aren’t registered yet, here are our discount codes: Brooklyn: 19TGGNYVIP and Chicago: 19TGGCHIVIP

Bigcos are struggling with implementing Lean Startup approaches; while it’s great to dabble with the ideas of doing experiments to de-risk ideas, those micro approaches thrive under the strategic cover of having things that shift organizational behavior at a more macro level – like metered funding.

“We need to realize that the goals of scientists and entrepreneurs are not the same. The pursuit of raw knowledge is a scientific pursuit. In that realm, learning is truly the measure of progress. But entrepreneurship is goal driven. Empirical learning is a part, but not all, of the final goal: to build a repeatable and scalable business model before running out of resources. While empirical learning is a key part of that process, unless you can quickly turn that learning into measurable business results, you are just accumulating trivia.” – Ash Maurya, Scaling Lean

Bigco leaders need to ask themselves, “What would it take to pilot metered funding on an initiative? Would it change mindsets and behaviors?”

Metered funding mimics the way that many startups receive funding from VCs, driving teams to prove the desirability, viability, and feasibility of their ideas over time, and only awarding funding when this happens. When Lean Startup is set in the traditional funding setting, it can become scientific method without urgency or incentivization, lacking the “startup” mindset.


Metered funding was introduced in Eric Ries’ The Startup Way. Ries emphasizes a variety of benefits for this model, some of which include lowered political burdens for the teams and a focus on asking “what do I have to provably learn in order to unlock more funding?”

Here are some examples of metered funding in action, discussed at 2018 Lean Startup Conference by Tony Hseih and Aaron Dignan:

The idea of Lean Startup and doing rapid testing and iteration loops in isolation is helpful to Bigcos, but that alone without changing the incentivization structure and the way that funding is allocated isn’t as effective as bringing metered funding online to drive deeper behavior change.

“Innovation without constraints is no blessing – startup mortality rates are unusually high for overfunded projects, with many infamous examples.” – Eric Ries, The Startup Way

In an ideal world, we highly recommend that teams adopt metered funding, but NOT in isolation. That tool alone won’t likely cause org behavioral change, but in tandem with other things like growth boards, change can happen. Still, if teams can’t yet implement any of these changes, a mindset shift is key. Teams can begin by mentally treating their budgets like this, which helps step out of entitlement and into systematically de-risking ideas with bigger and bigger audiences and prototype fidelity. 

As consumers across demographics increasingly seek solutions that support holistic health and overall wellness, we are continuing to track the evolution of the natural products landscape and its impact on Bigcos.

We’ve discussed the popularity of CBD and Healthy Fats trends in our 2017 and 2018 Natural Products reports—if you haven’t already, be sure to download the reports—but they have continued to garner consumer interest in the past several months:

New things we’re watching include:

Follow us at Expo West 2019

We’ll be continuing to discuss Natural Products emergences and trends in the lead up to Expo West in March. Here’s a preview of more things we’re tracking in our ongoing scan.

Be sure to sign up below to receive our on the floor live updates on Natural Products and notices about podcasts and webinars where we’ll be discussing the latest trends, along with our detailed report after Expo West.


The Garage Group is excited to organize and host our first Cincinnati Courageous Minds Only chat on Operating Like a Startup in a Bigco of 2019, on Wednesday, March 27, at 5:30 pm at The Garage Group’s newly renovated Cincinnati office in historic Longworth Hall.

Last year, we hosted conversations with more than 30 courageous Bigco leaders across the country, hearing from them as they try to adopt more entrepreneurial ways of working and influence their organizations to move faster and smarter. These battle-tested leaders are courageously trailblazing the way forward. They’re under tremendous pressure to keep organizations like Kraft Heinz, ascena retail, PepsiCo, Citi, and more relevant and growing in the face of increasing market uncertainty.

Register to join us on March 27 Here’s who’s jumping in:

Below is the event agenda:

5:30-6:00 pm Drinks & Community Building
6:00-7:00 pm Fireside Chat
7:00-7:30 pm Drinks & Community Building

Event costs have been covered by The Garage Group so it is free to attend the event. There will be beer, wine, and light snacks provided.

We started the Courageous Minds Only chats as a community to inspire Bigco leaders with the courage to move faster and smarter in the face of increasing uncertainty, essentially to operate more like startups and to be able to share lessons learned along the journey. As Beth Comstock mentions in her book, the pace of change will never be slower than it is today, and it’s accelerating…we have to continually reinvent ourselves and our companies if we want to stick around. We were reminded recently that if you want to learn and grow in a certain area, you must get around people who are way ahead of you…what an honor and privilege we had to learn from Beth Comstock during a recent Courageous Minds Only Chat in NYC.

If you’ve followed her career, or read her book, Imagine it Forward, you know about the incredible journey she’s been on. She built GE Ventures, which develops new businesses, and oversaw the reinvention of GE Lighting. She was named GE’s CMO in ‘03. She served as President of Integrated media at NBCUniversal from ‘06 to ‘08, overseeing the company’s digital efforts, including the early formation of Hulu. She’s a Director at Nike, and she’s been written about and profiled extensively from the New York Times, to Forbes, to Fortune, to Fast Company. And she’s been named on the Fortune and Forbes list of the world’s most powerful women. 

When she sat down and talked with Jason and the rest of the NYC Courageous Minds Only Community, she humbly and candidly shared the fear she felt during her early steps, how she took ownership over changes that had to happen, and how she gave herself permission to take chances and boldly try new things.

Here is the full video—we’d highly recommend you take an hour for discovery and learn fully from Beth!

But we know time is limited though; here are seven of our favorite clips + top learnings for Bigco leaders and entrepreneurs. Take time, watch, and listen to the inspiration that you need the most right now.  

TAKING ON CHALLENGES: Curious about your persistence to put yourself out there to take on challenges, but then the capacity to also learn and grow through the peaks and through some of the tough times as well. Can you talk about that? WATCH THE CLIP>>>

EXTERNAL CONNECTION: As you reflect back on your career, what were the things you did that allowed you to stay externally connected, and to be able to anticipate where things were going? It’s easy to get back to the day to day grind where you’re not putting yourself out there. WATCH THE CLIP>>>

RESILIENCE: When you faced adversity, whether you failed, or you’re learning, paying it forward, or you know with conviction you’re right and the rest of the organization isn’t there, what gave you help and resilience in those moments? WATCH THE CLIP>>>

EMPOWERING A TEAM: I imagine you’ve had incredible teams that have worked for you over the years. How are you able to take that change agent, courageous mind, and attitude, and empower your team with that so that they felt like they were empowered, and had permission to go out and test ideas? WATCH THE CLIP>>>

HULU & FAILING FORWARD: I loved the story of Hulu in terms of how you fought for it early and fought for the right team. It’s interesting to see the iVillage acquisition play out and the lessons learned afterward. I’m curious what you learned from that. What enabled Hulu to be successful? WATCH THE CLIP>>>

STAYING MOTIVATED: What is the reminder for you to be motivated, to continue to still innovate knowing that wall might not move, knowing that you have that small effort of change, being that catalyst toward pushing the company forward? WATCH THE CLIP>>>

CULTIVATING COURAGEOUS MINDS: We have a room full of amazing courageous change makers, who obviously are doing crazy cool things. They’re making an impact. What advice, wisdom, encouragement would you leave them with? WATCH THE CLIP>>>

Thank you, Beth, for sharing your stories with us. The thing we’ve taken away from Beth is to keep swinging; it’s easy to rest on what we’ve done…reading her book—which we’d highly recommend—and chatting with her has encouraged us to think bigger.

What’s the one thing you’ll do differently after watching this interview? Make a commitment to yourself to figure that out, and start something tomorrow.