OPINION8 December 2010

Hacky hacky joy joy


Researchers have many problems to contend with in their never-ending quest to uncover great consumer insights – a lack of time, a lack of resource, inadequate tools and approaches. But the biggest issue facing the industry, according to Virtual Surveys’ Rich Shaw, is a lack of ‘joy’.

“We’ve managed to reduce vast swathes of our industry to soul-destroying, mechanical processes,” lamented Shaw. “Joy and passion are important because they are the basis of creativity and innovation.”

He makes a business case for joy in the workplace, arguing that as data becomes more easily obtainable, the economic value of information is reduced. Value instead comes from creative analysis of that information, and finding innovative applications for the data.

Shaw says researchers need to embrace the ‘hacker ethic’ – a philosphy that values things like free information and decentralisation.

Quoting the book The Hacker Ethic by Finnish philosopher Pekka Himanen, Shaw says hackers do what they do because they are passionate about something, rather than being duty-bound to do it. Money is important, of course, but not the only motivation – happiness is paramount. A key belief is that people should be able to determine how they use their time as much as possible.

An idea worth running by the HR department, perhaps?