We need tools to manage our thoughts, data, information and knowledge to be able to find insights. A bit of structure and system could benefit you when seeking new ideas – and keeping track of them!
What’s an Insight Bank?
For practical purposes, I’ll tell you how I use Evernote to store insights.…
Every successful business out there started from the seed of an insight. Their business model is based on that initial insight. But once a business becomes established, that initial insight becomes irrelevant and so does their business model. One thing that limits innovation in established companies is that employees don’t have access to insights or worse yet, don’t know what an insight is to begin with. This is an ongoing problem as stated by a recent study by CapGemini which says that New Products Fail Due to Lack of Customer Insight. There you go!
For your next source of growth you need ‘new insights’, and good ones too. Because without good insights the chances of moving your ideas forward is slim. So what’s an insight? It’s an undeniable consumer or customer truth.
Great, but how do you identify them?
The ‘insight’ statement
Yesterday I listened in on Maddock Douglas’s ‘How to find the best insights’ webinar and they propose a very simple way of identifying them:
For example: I eat fast food (fact) because it’s convenient (why) but I end up regretting it.
That’s a potential insight for an idea. Next thing to do is ask the all-important ‘Why?’ various times to dig deeper and uncover the ‘real truth’. This is NOT the end of the search, there’s more to it than just putting a statement together but I thought of this as a useful starting point.
You won’t snatch these statements out of the sky, you’ll have to immerse yourself into people’s lives and observe them. Become them. Feel what they feel. Speak their language. It’s also important to understand that the people you’re observing won’t come out and tell you their ‘insight statement’ so you’ll have to put the pieces together and connect the dots between all the things you notice.
More to come! I’ll post the slides and audio from the webinar when I get them by next week, it’s really useful stuff
Update: Below is the full webinar on How to find the best insights. Enjoy!
They sure are. There are all sorts of fun ways to come up with new ideas and tactics to help you see new ideas. Do a google search for ‘how to get new ideas’ and you get 381 million results, more links than you’ll ever have time to visit in your lifetime with some mostly the same information that is in those two articles I linked to! Ok so what’s a better way to generate ideas?
Insights, they’re the seeds of new groundbreaking ideas.
A more strategic way of generating ideas is to focus on building ideas on top of insights. Don’t get me wrong, thinking stuff up is fun. You let your imagination run wild, think of the impossible and think all kinds of stuff only you can imagine. It’s your own dream world! Mostly all these ideas will be way ahead of their time or not even doable. That’s why we need to combine our imagination with our intellect. Our intellect drives our capability to discover insights and our imagination helps put the pieces together in a new way.
So how do you discover new insights?
Recently I’ve written how insights can pop out of nowhere and how the most simple way of spotting them is by noticing things. To discover new insights we have to become really good at recognizing patterns and then making sense of them in this interconnected world. We must turn mud into gold if you will and this happens by making distinctions out of what we observe.
To get you started, a simple way is to observe the world, industries and people. Notice what’s changing, what’s different and ask yourself what does it mean for the world, industry your customers and you. Think about what needs and behaviors might emerge from these changes and how can you exploit them.
Ideas are cheap but insights are hard to come by.
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- Finding Insights In a Data Haystack (prbreakfastclub.com)
I’m a baller, and I can tell which sneaker is good for playing in and why. One of the worst things about modern basketball sneakers is that they still generate a lot of moisture on your feet that makes for an uncomfortable way to play. You really have to get used to playing with moisture on your feet. This problem hasn’t been fixed until now.
The video above is an overview of the new Nike Hyperfuse, which uses mesh technology (the one used on running shoes) to fix the moisture problem. You can find an elaborate review of the same product at Shoe Hero. What I want to draw attention to is that the Innovation Kitchen team from Nike got the insight for using mesh technology to reduce moisture after traveling to parts of China and ‘observing’ that some people where playing hoops in running shoes or sandals.
The Hyperfuse is a big hit with NBA players right now (Most of Team USA wore them during the recent World Championships) because it has everything all the other shoes had before it plus the mesh technology that helps the feet breathe.
Observe. Observe. Observe.
I’ve argued before that there are plenty of ways to get insights, but the easiest and most engaged way to get insights is by observing how people use your product or interact with your service.
You would think that an athletic footwear maker like Nike would’ve thought about using running shoe mesh technology on basketball shoes before. They had to travel to the other side of the world to see people playing basketball in sandals and running shoes, not basketball shoes, to get this insight. This why direct observation is so important and focus groups so limited, it’s better to observe people’s behavior because if you ask them outright what they want the don’t really know.
Another thing to remember is that people tend to say ‘that’s the way it is’ and accept products as they are and get used to them. Do you actually think that if they’re used to things being the way they are that they’re actually going to tell you what they want? I know as a basketball player you do all sorts of things to remove the moisture such as changing your socks often so your feet are as dry as possible, yet since we’ve found an alternative and temporary way to dealing with it we don’t stop and ask why?
Somebody else, an outsider, has to notice it; define the problem and find a solution.
Direct observation is one of the most cost effective ways to get new insights, ignore it at your peril.
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- Nike zoom hyperfuse white/royal (myairshoes.com)
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- African Court Kicks – The Nike Hyperfuse Angola is a Tribute to the African Powerhouse (GALLERY) (trendhunter.com)
There are a lot of ways to have insights, from quieting your mind to cultivating happiness all around you. Yet it doesn’t stop there, these are conditions that contribute to having insights. But what about active insight recognition?
That’s where observation comes in. Engaging one’s attention, not just seeing, contributes to the ability to make distinctions and then wondering why those distinctions exist.
For example have you noticed that some people, especially women, sit very close to the wheel of the car as if almost driving with their teeth? This can be attributed to many things such as their height, but that’s not entirely true. Elderly people come to mind when thinking about this but they have some physical limitations such as strength, shortsightedness and height. So why do some people drive almost with their teeth?
I don’t have a clear answer but simply asking ‘why’ will lead me to an answer, an insight.
This is the secret of noticing: Spotting things that don’t make sense, that defy expectation. And once you notice a cluster of patterns, ask why this pattern or more specifically: “Hmm, I wonder why that is?”
The better you become at noticing things and then seeking out the truth, the more insights you’ll have and the more interesting the world will become to you. As a by product you’ll also become more interesting to other people 🙂
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- How to have more insights (psychologytoday.com)
- Marc Lesser: The Secret to Insight: Letting Go of the Mind (huffingtonpost.com)
Insights, they’re the seeds of new groundbreaking ideas. I was watching the BBC documentary on the life of autistic celebrity Temple Grandin and was intrigued at how her hug machine invention was born out of an unlikely insight from cow vaccination: the squeeze chute which holds the cow in place so that it can be vaccinated made some cows more relaxed.
As a young child, Grandin realized she would seek out deep pressure stimulation, but hugs and being held over-stimulated her. The idea for the hug machine was devised during a visit to her aunt’s Arizona ranch, where she noted the way cattle were vaccinated while confined in a squeeze chute, and how some of the cattle immediately calmed down after pressure was administered. She realized the deep pressure from the chute had a calming effect, and decided that might well settle down her own hypersensitivity.
As an autistic person, Mrs. Temple’s main emotion is fear. So she’ll mainly be looking at things that help her cope with that fear, and the squeeze chute was it. This also helps understand how to look for insights, you start with a problem in mind and you focus like a laser beam to find a insight in unlikely places.
In the video below you can see what I’m talking about but if you haven’t seen the documentary I encourage you to watch it completely.
The Devil is in the details.