You Are The Source of Insights

Bob Wiesner | September 25, 2018

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Insights sell. They’re the key to penetrating new clients. To getting into the C-Suite. To winning new business pitches.

Have I made it clear I think insights matter?

My clients might not agree at first, but all of them come around. Once an agency or team decides that it needs to put insights at the center of their client relationships and biz dev efforts, the next two questions are almost inevitable:

  1. So just what the heck are insights anyway?
  2. And where do I find them?

Insights are all around you

There are a few different ways to define “insight.” I like this one for its practicality:

An insight is a truth about the consumer, brand, product or company that hasn’t yet been used to sell it.

Like many truths in our current politically turbulent times, insights are all around us. But that doesn’t make them easy to find.

I’ve advised my clients that they probably already have the understanding of their target markets to uncover insights through knowledge sharing, open discussions and brainstorming. I also think a team can use qualitative or quantitative research to gather new data to lead to new insights.

Both avenues can be effective, yet some agencies and teams still struggle. It’s made me wonder why.

I wonder no more.

Mindset is the key

I think I know what holds some people or teams back. it’s not what they’re doing to find insights. It’s how they’re thinking about what they’re doing.

This HBR article lays it out beautifully. Simply said, the most insightful strategies, or scenario planning, came about when people were open to seeing things around themselves differently.

Groups of executives are often prevented by their mental frames of reality from perceiving what’s really happening.

Speaking of one famous case study in innovative strategic thinking, the authors said this about the head of group planning:

The oft-missing piece of the story is where Wack got the insights. From taxi drivers in the Middle East to garden designers in Japan, Wack sought ideas from a huge range of sources — including many people who had no ostensible link to oil industry data. For Wack, this approach was inextricably linked to mindfulness practice: “Quieting the mind” made it possible and natural to open up to new and unexpected sources of information. He trained his mind to hone intuition, take in diverse sources of information and emerging patterns, and, in turn, do the serious work of illuminating alternative futures.

Knowers vs. Learners

In Mindset terms, we’re talking about the importance of being a Learner – which is an expression of what Carol Dweck calls the Growth Mindset. Learners are willing to admit that, no matter their level of expertise, there’s more that can be learned. And that the learning can come from any source. Even just looking around, asking questions, talking to people OUTSIDE the usual group of experts.

That leads to this hypothesis. When you have a hard time finding the insight, you might be operating not as a Learner but as the opposite, called Knower. That’s an expression of the Fixed Mindset. It’s not surprising that a team of Knowers, or a team with predominantly a Fixed Mindset, will have more difficulty uncovering insights. They might be unwilling to look beyond the already available research and conclusions. They might not realize the value of broader opinions, or even of rejecting current assumptions.

Since insights matter, mindset also matters. To find insights, make sure your heads are in the right place.



Insight development is a core element of our strategic planning and business development workshops. And we have a sales training solution built around insights, called The Insight Sale.

If insights are critical to your growth, you should precede any of these programs with our Mindset workshop. This program will help all you identify any mindset issues that could limit your ability to find insights. The program then contains coaching segments to help you move into more of a growth/learner mindset. Then you’ll have a chance to apply that new mindset to your business challenges, including insight development.

This is the sort of solution that benefits everyone, especially if you want to more collaborative, innovative culture. And if you want everyone in the organization to view life through a broader lens. Good for business, good for clients, good for diversity, good for your people.

Photo by Ethan Hu on Unsplash

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