uncluttered white spaces is a collaborative platform for good ideas. The magazine, now in our 4th year, produces 30% original content and 70% curated. We talk a lot about insight and make sure that all original content provides a deep level of insight to the topic. The curated content, this is more about the (good) idea and we do our best to extract a level of insight. It isn’t always easy.
HBR blogger Alessandro Di Fiore has written an important article that refers to strategic insight. Di Fiore makes reference to Peter Drucker’s 2001 article in The Economist where he stated “businesspeople stand on the threshold of the knowledge society. In this society, a company’s competitive advantage will come from a historically underdeveloped asset: the ability to capture and apply insights from diverse fields.”
The challenge with Druckers theory is when you aim to create insight from knowledge within an organisation, the insight has no ownership. There is no process to develop strategic insights in most organisations. Companies focus heavily on Myer Briggs, DISC, Six Sigma and Opex which is less about insight, than it is about process. These programs stifle innovation. When it comes to gathering insight from knowledge, HBR state that humans can only remember 3-5 things at a time, therefore, strategic insight doesn’t get a look in. The challenge for organisations is to create a place for development of strategic insight.
According to HBR, Strategic insight is a perception that could trigger the creation of a distinctive and winning value proposition. HBR carried out a survey with leading CEO’s. Here is what they found.
- Insight is confused with innovation: Insight is often confused with innovation, which is on the CEO top-ten list. But the two are not the same thing. For a start, innovation is about creating something new. A strategic insight is not necessarily about recognizing something new. It could even suggest doing something old. If you simply put strategic insight into the innovation basket you limit its potential straight away and degrade its importance.
- Insight has no owner: Most organizations don’t have an owner of the insight generation process. The Market Research Department owns a small piece of it. But Market Research people focus more on tools and techniques and are ill-suited to own what should be a company-wide capability. Moreover, they report to the Marketing Function, which usually doesn’t have the legitimacy and C-Suite visibility to drive insights into company’s strategy.
- Schumpeter’s bias: We all pay lip service to Schumpeter’s vision of the lone and creative entrepreneur. This image is so entrenched in our mind that we unconsciously tend to believe that the magic of an insight is not replicable. Many business leaders have the belief that we depend on “individual” insights. Consequently, they implicitly assume that it is impossible to systematically build a capability for strategic insight.
- Lack of internal integration: For companies to get good at capturing and acting on insights, product development, strategic planning, marketing planning processes need to be closely linked. Entrepreneurs — who do all these things themselves — don’t have a problem here but in large corporations the processes are often unconnected both from each other and from the often missing insight generation process.