5 Myths of How Insights are Generated

5 Myths of How Insights are Generated

Where do great ideas come from? There isn’t single source but I believe the best ideas are grounded on a unique insight. I’m not talking about the aha! moment, when something crystalizes in your mind’s eye and suddenly everything becomes clear; no I’m talking about something more deep.

You have to work hard to get these insights because they won’t fall into your lap, and you won’t pick them out of thin air. You’ll have to become a detective, a very curious one, with a hunger to know more about a challenge or problem ad not be satisfied with simple answers.

What are are insights and why are they important?

Insights drive innovation. Insights are problems, tendencies, or an opportunity to radically change the game. An insight is an undeniable truth, because you can’t deny it when it’s identified. Insights matter because they point you in the right direction to select the right problems to solve; which can result in wasted time and resources for teams and organizations if they focus on the wrong problem.

How do you get these insights?

Insights are not grounded on fluff, hunches or magic; they come from a robust diagnosis of a challenge. While great ideas can come from acts of imagination, hunches, and randomness, these types of ideas are not necessarily looking for a problem to solve. Certainly, letting an idea incubate and let the brain do its work is important but those initial ideas have to come from somewhere.

With that said, here are 5 myths of where insights come from:

  • Myth 1: Insights come from inspirational moments, like taking a shower or sitting under an apple tree. We can use processes and tools to identify the right ones for our products and services and not wait for inspiration to happen.
  • Myth 2: You will have a meeting to define the strategy and insights would magically materialize. With the right discovery and analysis processes, the identification of opportunities should be continuous. It would be naive to expect that great ideas will spark from a one-hour meeting of executives.
  • Myth 3: There is someone responsible for coming up with insights. Good ideas can come from any source, not just the CEO, but especially from product teams doing discovery work. Any team member should bring options to the table.
  • Myth 4: Insights come from intuition. I value intuition, and certainly, someone experienced in a particular industry would probably be prone to finding trends and opportunities faster. But there are two big caveats: 1) Sometimes a higher knowledge gives us extra confidence in our ideas without having enough supporting evidence and falling into confirmation bias. 2) Innovation requires doing things differently. Often, the more used we are to how things are done, the more resistance we have to even think about new ways.
  • Myth 5: Insights come from being around people who think like you. Where all think alike, nobody thinks very much. Insights come from unlikely places, and hanging around people who think like you is not a breeding ground for insights.

Bottom line: You won’t find new insights in the mainstream, you’ll find them on the fringe. You’ll also won’t find new insights by sitting on your desk and staying inside your building, you’ll get them by talking to and observing customers to understand their unarticulated needs.