The trouble with insight?

road signs of question marks

The Insight industry is in rude health – at the time of writing there are 36,037 people on Linkedin with the word “insight” in their job title [UPDATE Jan 2017 – this is now 49k]. That’s enough to fill the Albert Hall nearly 7 times. If each of them generates one new insight on each working day then we’ll have over 8 million fresh insights by this time next year. This is added to the 100s of millions of insights that have been created already.

The problem is… what to do with them?

A lot of resource goes into creating insights – including money, time, thinking, talking and ‘generating’. The insight agency might provide the data and together with their client – and maybe some co-creation-ready consumers – they develop this into new and exciting insight.

Job complete, well done. But then what?

The potential for the mega-game-changing, business-shaping insight right down to the ‘marginal-gains’ insight is huge. But whose job is it to take this on? To a large degree, the research and insight professionals have done their job by investing in the tools and resources to create the stuff and then handing it over to their stakeholders.

So the stakeholders are at fault for not actioning these insights? Or maybe some of the insights are too implausible to action? Maybe some of them are not easily understood? Maybe they have enough to do already in their 60-hour week?

I am speaking generally of course, but in my experience there is a clear gap between ‘insight generation’ and ‘action on insight’. Perhaps we could do less, but more needed, research if we spent more time on driving insights through the business process until positive action takes place.

But until we work out who will take ownership of this much needed role, the insight will keep coming but the action will be kept waiting…

GB

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