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Finding Success by Identifying Personal Bias in Business

  |  December 20, 2013   |  Comments

The reasons for valuing and dismissing the opinions of individuals may vary from situation to situation, but invariably, one common truth will surface.

shutterstock-100502689One of the first things you learn when announcing your intention to marry or share a pending birth is that everyone has an opinion. People will share their own personal secrets for a successful marriage or a happy baby. They will tell you to avoid going to bed angry and how to make sure your child isn't "that kid" who terrorizes everyone else. Everyone has an opinion.

In business, the same is true. Ask ten people what they think and, with no time wasted, you'll get nine answers and one person who doesn't want to be bothered. Of those nine voices, you'll find value with a couple and dismiss the rest. The reasons for valuing and dismissing may vary from situation to situation, but invariably, one common truth will surface.

We are all biased by our own personal experiences and views; in business, there are no agnostics. You can be an atheist, but you cannot opt out of a view. Those without a view are either nonessential to your process because they are not close enough to matter, or they are a deterrent to progress because they have decided to stay away from difficult processing and decision making.

You want people with opinions, but it's imperative you understand what motivates their position. Past experiences and future aspirations play an essential role in individual recommendations. Those empowered to fail and try again may be less reserved in making suggestions than those burned by the past. Likewise, those aiming to keep the status quo because it serves other interests may be more hesitant to push for change than those who are incentivized to deliver business growth, regardless of where it comes from.

As a business leader, it's not enough to just solicit the opinions of others. A true leader must assess people's opinions not only for what they are saying, but also for why those opinions were given by the individuals giving them. If you truly know the people you trust to give you counsel, then you will know their personal bias.

Decision making relies heavily on having all the necessary data at your disposal. One key piece of that is knowing the rationale for opinions offered. Without that, you are making choices based on an imperfect data set.

There's an old adage tossed around in life: "Consider the source." This is sage advice that can be the difference between making the right decision, and making a decision based on bias that exposes you to possible failure.



Chris Copeland

Chris Copeland is chief executive officer of GroupM Next, the forward-looking media innovation unit of GroupM. Chris is responsible for curating and communicating insight-focused media solutions across established and emerging platforms. Leveraging his multi-year experience with emerging media companies, Chris is tasked with stewarding GroupM Next in partnership with agency leadership from GroupM's four media marketing and marketing service agencies (Maxus, MEC, MediaCom, and Mindshare). The focus is participating with those companies leading changes that most impact consumer media consumption, brand favorability, and purchase behavior.

Guiding the Predictive Insights, Technology, Research, and Communications teams at GroupM Next, Chris is responsible for overseeing the amplification of insights into opportunities that directly benefit the business of GroupM agencies and their clients. GroupM is the world's largest media investment management group and the media holding arm of WPP. Together, GroupM agencies represent almost $30 billion in overall North American billings (RECMA).

Chris helped guide the development of GroupM Next, which was established to deliver the best thinking and new insights from within the GroupM community. The unit also focuses on technology innovation connecting all media channels, but especially, online, social, mobile, and addressable.

Chris was selected to lead GroupM Next after nine years of leading the search marketing practice within GroupM. Among his accomplishments are the development and integration of the global search marketing offering for GroupM agencies, GroupM Search, which managed $1.3 billion in search billings globally and grew to more than 1,000 search marketing strategists serving 40 countries. In 2009, Chris created the research division of GroupM Search and developed research studies that deepened the understanding of consumer behavior across search and social media for leading brands and garnered global traction - most notably: The Influenced: Social Media, Search, and the Interplay of Consideration and Consumption; The Virtuous Circle: The Role of Social Media in the Purchase Pathway;and From Intent to In-Store: Search's Role in the New Retail Shopper Profile.

Chris entered the digital industry in 1996 when he joined search marketing agency WGI (later acquired by Tempus Group). He has been with the WPP and GroupM family of companies since 2000 when, recognizing search as an emerging media channel with incredible potential for brands, WPP acquired Tempus Group and CIA, and ultimately rebranded the search marketing agency as Outrider. As senior partner and managing director of Outrider, Chris delivered on GroupM's vision for the channel, leading the organization to 500 percent growth with global presence over five years, and establishing award-winning search marketing strategies that have become industry-wide best practices. In 2002, Chris successfully implemented the integration of search into the cross-channel media planning process at MEC, creating the first search marketing practice to sit within a media communications and planning company. In 2007, he guided the business expansion of search marketing practices into all GroupM agencies. In 2009, Chris was named CEO of GroupM Search, where he was responsible for driving global search strategy for the organization, while fostering the innovative application of search as an integrated channel. In his role, Chris also provided digital strategy counsel for clients, including AT&T, Dell, Audi, Volkswagen, and more.

Chris is an active member on advisory boards at the 4A's, Google, Yahoo, MSN, and I-COM. He is a frequent speaker in global forums discussing the digital marketplace and how the space is evolving, and serves as a regular resource to national and industry press. Chris contributes editorial commentary regularly to Advertising Age, ClickZ, MediaPost, and MediaBizBloggers.com. In fall 2013, Chris was honored as an inductee into the ClickZ Digital Hall of Fame.

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