You’ve probably heard of the word ‘triage’, right? But do you know what it actually means?
Well, the word ‘triage’ comes from the French verb ‘trier’ meaning to sort or sift. It started as a French wartime expression.
Modern medical triage was invented by Dominique Jean Larrey, a surgeon during the Napoleonic Wars. He used it to treat the wounded according to how serious their injuries appeared to be and the urgency of the care required. Regardless of their rank or nationality.
During any battle, there were far more wounded soldiers than there were medical staff to treat them. So the wounded were quickly sorted into 3 groups:
1. Those who are likely to live irrespective of the treatment they were given.
2. Those who are likely to die irrespective of the treatment they are given.
3. Those who may live if you can treat them.
Then all available attention is given to the third group. The group where you can make the most difference.
Triage is a simple framework that saves more lives. It helps medics make better decisions in the heat of the battle (literally).
Why are we talking about this? We work with a variety of companies. We are always amazed by how many different frameworks exist in these companies.
There are things like ‘demand moments’ or ‘usage landscapes’. There are segmentations – consumer, shopper, attitudinal, behavioural, demographic. There are needstates. There are shopping missions. There are trends frameworks. We could go on…
In their own right, each of these frameworks can be useful – particularly for those who work closely with them. But when there are multiple frameworks floating around an organisation, they can be confusing – particularly for those less close to them.
It can sometimes feel like it is framework layered upon framework…layered upon framework…layered upon…you get the picture.
Now, you may be thinking (if you know who we are) this is a bit rich coming from a bunch of consultants. Consultants love a framework. It’s true, we do love a framework. But we love the right framework not lots of them. The right framework is one that clarifies. Like Triage.
So, what are the principles that underpin a good framework?
Simplicity. Is it easy for people to understand? All people, not just those closest to it? There are different ways to keep things simple. But let’s just pick one – the number of different elements in a framework. The triage framework has 3 elements. At its absolute simplest it is (1) will live (2) will die (3) could live.
Now think about some of the frameworks in your organisation. If you have segmentations, how many different segments are there? More than 3? More than 6? More than 9? Are there sub-segments below? Decision Trees are classic examples of complicating things. A PowerPoint slide with about 30 boxes and lines that bears no resemblance to how shoppers actually shop. A good framework is a simple framework. Everyone understands it.
Memorability. Will people remember it? An hour later? A week later? A month later? Part of this is about simplicity. A simple framework is usually a more memorable framework. But it’s about more than that. Let’s take one example - language. What are you calling the framework? What are you calling the segments, needs or quadrants? Are the descriptions memorable?
The big test is whether people in your organisation could play the framework back to you. Could they tell you the names of the segments? Or are they saying… “I think there was a segment that started with ‘P’ was it ‘pragmatic’ or maybe ‘practical’? It had a girl’s name. “‘Paula…? or maybe ‘Penny’…? Or was it ‘Polly’?”. People spend more trying to remember the names than actually using the segmentation. A good framework is memorable. Everyone can play it back.
Accuracy. Is it a good explanation of reality? Does it identify the right shopper needs? Or the right category segments? Importantly, a framework needs to be accurate enough. It doesn’t need to be perfect. Triage is not perfect. There may be a few people in Group 1 who die or in Group 2 who could have lived. But many more lives are saved than if you didn’t have the framework.
Often in our industry you can focus on the 10%. For instance, the 10% of products that don’t fit neatly in a segment. That distracts from the 90%. The products that do fit neatly into a segment. A framework needs a good level of accuracy – not perfection. The level you need to direct enough right decisions.
Actionability. Is it actionable? Does it direct people on what to do? The three previous points are important but this is the most important. A framework isn’t good because it’s interesting. It isn’t good because it tells you something new. It isn’t good because it cost a lot of money. It’s good because it is actionable. Triage is actionable – it directs who you treat.
To be actionable a segmentation needs to give direction at the right level. For example, if you are a manufacturer you need things to be actionable at a category level. So, looking at shopping missions (the reason for the shopping trip) is interesting. But looking at shopping modes (how shoppers think and behave in different categories & sub categories) is actionable.
Take a step back. Think about the frameworks in your business. Then Triage them.
Which should live? Which should die? Which could survive with a bit of help?
Feel free to forward. Have good weekend. Speak to you in a fortnight.