We’ve just launched SenateSHJ Insights. A new practice built on methods we’ve practised for years. Put simply, we use primary and secondary research methods to collate information. We then analyse this information and create ideas our clients can act on.
This sounds simple. But, it isn’t.
To begin, we investigate the brief, applying our decades of experience in reputation management, change, social change and ESG in the public and private sectors. We define the problem and then design a research methodology that gives us the best chance of finding a solution. We choose the right mix of technologies and articulate the most efficient process to arrive at meaningful insights, quickly. And then, we start our search.
But, let’s take a step back. To find an insight you must first know what it is.
What is an insight?
Turning to dictionary definitions I found three that give us a solid start.
First, Dictionary.com offers us this: “an instance of apprehending the true nature of a thing”. And this, “an understanding of relationships that sheds light on or helps solve a problem”.
Second, from Britannica: “the ability to understand people and situations in a very clear way”.
And finally, from McKinsey: “a fundamental…need or truth that we can use to create value for the customer and the business”.
There are six telling words in these definitions: ‘truth’, ‘people’, ‘relationships’, ‘clarity’, ‘solution’, and ‘value’. Bringing these together, we arrive at our own definition. An insight is: a truth about human motivations and relationships that leads us to clear and valuable solutions.
An insight is much more than an observation
An insight is not an observation. It isn’t a record of something. Rather, it’s something new. Something you discover after hours spent bringing ideas together – arranging them and re-arranging them. Applying your experience and intuition to eventually arrive at that moment of discovery…the proverbial ‘aha moment’.
It’s a deliberate process that requires patience, discipline and perhaps most importantly, imagination.
It’s easy enough to observe something – to find and record what’s happening. Discovering an insight involves a lot more.
Here’s an example – a recent report by Hootsuite and We Are Social found that there was an increase of 4.6% in the number of active social media users in Australia, in 2021 (that’s 950,000 more active social media users than in 2020).
That’s an observation. It’s valuable information that reports a substantial change. It tells us what happened, but not why. And, anyone with an internet connection can find this out in minutes, by reading the report. We’ll have to dig a little deeper to discover something new.
What changed from one year to the next? Why did 950,000 more Australians decide on social media as a way to connect with their family and friends, and receive their daily news, in 2021? If the pandemic kept us physically apart in 2020, shouldn’t the easing of restrictions in 2021 have caused a decrease in the number of active social media users as Australians reconnected in person?
To answer these questions and find our insights, we might conduct social listening to discern popular perceptions of social media in Australia in 2021 relative to the year before. We could also conduct an online survey and/or in-depth interviews to uncover the motivations that drove this change in behaviour. We’ll collate what we find and bring a diversity of experience to bear on the data. Imagining and reimagining ideas until we have our ‘aha moment’.
An insight is valuable because it’s a new idea. It helps us see the familiar, differently. It disrupts and distinguishes. In business, it’s a competitive advantage. And, in communication campaigns, it’s why people listen and act.
An insight is valuable also because its discovery brings us great pleasure. It’s why we love doing what we do.