A client recently asked me for my definition of insight. This was a "getting to know you" meeting and I think that she wanted to know whether I had ever thought about the question before. I laughed (out loud) and, before she could wonder whether I was mocking her, I said that the question reminded me of a never-ending discussion on Linked In that asked the same question in a Research/Insights Group. She knew of this post, and thankfully saw the humor as well.
After sharing a chuckle, I offered the following definition:
INSIGHT: defining a relationship between at least two pieces of information.
Odd you say? Most people would and have defined insight as "the aha moment" or "revelation" or, as academics have offered, the "moment of convergence versus divergence." But let's make this a little less esoteric. In my humble opinion, there is not much value to focusing the definition of insight on the "moment." Yes, it is a wonderfully magical experience when it happens, but it doesn't help us towards the actual achievement of insight. Thus, my proposal is that, instead, we focus on the concept of "insightful thinking."
So let's take a simple but profound example. Over five thousand years ago the ancient Babylonians are said to have been the first to have had the insight of pi. That is, they noticed the relationship between the circumference of a circle and its diameter as being consistently about 3. Somebody had the "aha moment" of noticing the relationship. But the real question is how did they do it? Did they simple do "thought experiments." Did they take some ropes and take a bunch of measurements? In other words, did they get their hands "empirically" dirty?
"Insightful Thinking" focuses on the process of how to arrive at insights. That's what we teach in our Insightful Thinking Workshop. #insightfulthinking
This blog offers stories and discussions on how to build more relevance and differentiation for brands. The author is Timothy Coffey, Chief Revolutionist of Launchforce Strategy, a consumer research consultancy that specializes in highly creative qualitative methods. His experience ranges from brand and research management at Procter & Gamble to innovation management at Tupperware to founding and leading an integrated marketing strategy agency. He is the author of three books, Innovation Myths & Mythstakes, The New Super Consumer, Mom&Kid, and The Great Tween Buying Machine.