Thursday, July 12, 2012

notes on insight

Those of you who know me will also know that it takes very little persuasion to get me to stand up on a stage ond pontificate about this, that and the other in our world of communications conundrums.

I'm not a pro by any stretch but give it a good go.
The more I do it the better I get, one day soon I'll have it down so stand by for that.

On the occasions when I've been on a roll, I'll often chat with delegates and audience members afterwards and (though not as often as I'd like) sometimes they will leave me with a handshake and 'thanks for the insights'.

Of course, I'm happy to accept these thanks but I feel like I should say 'thanks but there were, in fact, no insights in what you just heard'.

There will have been stories, some facts, many observations and even more opinions but not necessarily any insights.

I say this because we should be mindful of not undermining the term 'insight' in our work.
Real insight is a rare and precious thing, and should be valued accordingly.

Here's one of the the best descriptions of insight that I've encountered.
A good benchmark by which to evaluate whether something is, in fact, insight or simply observation.

[That's not to say observation isn't valuable but it's a step in the process to uncovering insight]

'Insight is the act or result of apprehending the inner nature of things or seeing intuitively'

(I'm not sure where that definition comes from. Point me if you know)

For us communicators we should understand the goal of insight.
Insight informs how we identify highest level emotional need in any given situation.

How to uncover insight?
These five steps are a good place to start.

1. Ask difficult questions. Most of these start with 'why?'
2. Look below the surface.
3. Reframe stuff (TV is the second screen, for example).
4. Trust your 'gut', your instinctive self. Under-think it.
5. Observe acutely and understand your own and others behaviours.

Of course there is also product insight, category insight, business insight and many others. But key to uncovering these is starting with 'why' not 'how'.

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