IN AN AGE WHERE
nearly every human andcommercial phenomenon is measured,bench-marked and analyzed withinan inch o its death, where businesseso immense scale are built on thepremise o giving away things o value solely to acquire the sellabledata beneath them, and wherethe relentless march o the digitalalgorithm threatens to neuter thoseprecious human gits we call intuitionand instinct, this highly loaded terminsight has been bought, sold, sliced,diced, diluted and bastardized withliberal abandon.Today, companies great and smallace an unprecedented need orthe growth that transormationalinnovation can unlock, and insightis the hard-edged fint rom whichinnovation’s brightest sparks fy.
But you can’t getsparks by bangingmarshmallowstogether.
Much o what is touted today asinsight is merely inormation insight – insight’s distant ancestralcousin at best.What’s helping this unhelpuldilution run rampant is thatso much about insight remainsshrouded in ambiguity — startingwith the seemingly simple tasko dening it...Webster calls it “the act or result o apprehending theinner nature o things or o seeing intuitively.” (Thiscaptures insight more as a capability than a thing.)IDEO’s Tim Brown is no more helpul: “That insightcannot yet be codied, quantied, or even dened—notyet, at any rate—makes it the most dicult but also themost exciting part o the design process.”Can we really look people straight in the eye and sayinsight is all important, but we’re not telling you what itis? In essence, you’ll know it when you see it?Being paid handsomely to help companies seeopportunities they can’t readily see themselves, weprobably owe the world a better answer.
“I shall not today attempt urther to defne the kinds o materialI understand to be embraced within that shorthand description,and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But Iknow it when I see it…”
U.S. SUPREME COURT JUSTICE
Potter Stewart penned this classicline in 1964. He was talking about porn, and by reusingto sully his hands with the messy business o dening it,he instantly embedded “I know it when I see it” in thelexicon. (He also avoided the ull rontal assault on thenation’s innocence that any denition authored by nineblushing septuagenarians would have unleashed.)The problem or innovators is that Stewart’s non-denition could be airlited verbatim into the nebulousconversation around insight. It’s murky at best. Oninnovation’s ront lines, where there is no shortageo unknowns in play already, that’s nakedly unhelpul.No matter where you hunt or denition, you nd scantsatisaction. Try the handy digital dictionary bundledinto Microsot Word and you get this…
Insight (noun): 1)perceptiveness, 2) clear perception, 3) sel-awareness, or4) perception that hallucinations are not real.
(No, you’renot hallucinating. It really says that.)
INSIGHTS ABOUT INSIGHTS