Opinions are important in strategy development. They are the basis of the creativity that leads to the breakthroughs and innovations that drive businesses forward.

But without a certain level of rigour to back up these opinions they may simply lead you – and your organisation – up a blind alley.

I once worked with a UK supermarket chain that had decided that it should invest in improving staff satisfaction across their store chain, believing that by doing so customer satisfaction, loyalty and spend would grow.

Unfortunately, when I researched what was important to customers, employee satisfaction or even engaging with staff just wasn’t that important. Instead, customers wanted lower prices and better stock availability.

It came as something of a shock to the management team to find out that the stores with the highest levels of customer satisfaction also had the lowest levels of staff satisfaction, and that their multi-million pound investment in the HR programme would have been better spent on reducing prices.

Are you trying to drive your business forward based solely on hunches or can you back up your big investments with robust insights?

© Stuart Cross 2010. All rights reserved.