What is Insight? Seriously?

Back in the final years of the millennium, when IT professionals were worrying about Y2K, market researchers were worrying about insight. Their clients were starting to demand it, the trade press was writing about it, the word even started to appear on business cards.

Everyone agreed that it was a Very Good Thing, without really having a clear idea of what it was, or how to define it. A bit like Goji berries or hybrid electric vehicles.

Researchers being researchers, we entered a definition phase, accompanied by deep introspection. There were conferences (I confess to speaking at a couple, on this very subject), there were debates, there were endless articles.

But at the end of it all, I thought we knew what insight was.

And yet a dozen years later, the question is still being asked. What is insight? How does insight differ from research? Can we achieve more impact in the boardroom if we change our job title to Insight Director?

How can it be that this is still happening?

Are there really still practising researchers who aren’t sure what insight is? If so, it may be time to look for another job.

In the words of the late Teddy Pendergrass: If you don’t know me by now, you will never, ever, ever know me.


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