Ball made of gearsOne way consultants add value by being “insightful,” but what does that really mean? What’s more, if you aren’t “insightful” already, how do you improve?

I’ve been thinking about this lately and distilled 4 ways to push your thinking and get more insightful.

  • Change your shoes
  • Find parallels to things you know
  • Ask ‘how’ and ‘why’ to dig deep
  • Get super specific

Change your shoes

This is all about changing your perspective. Looking at things from the outside can be daunting and unfamiliar. One approach is to put yourself in other stakeholders’ shoes.

Imagine yourself as the customer, business partner, colleague, etc. Think about struggles and challenges they face and what motivates them. Now that you’re wearing their shoes… what do you want? What excites you? What makes you mad?

Getting inside others’ heads can uncover overlooked motivations and opportunities.

Find parallels to things you know

Relate new scenarios to similar scenarios you understand well!

Maybe you’re trying to think of loyalty programs for enterprise software… Think about the loyalty program at your local sandwitch place. What about it works? What doesn’t? What are other products and services you’re loyal to?

Though parallels may seem dubious at first, even distant relationships can lead to surprising insight.

Ask ‘how’ and ‘why’ to dig deep

Wearing ‘new shoes’ and drawing parallels leads to early insights. Dig deeper by asking why. Ask over and over until the root causes of successes and set backs become clear.

How and why are also keys to understanding deep connections. Everything is connected – figure out those connections by asking how things are connected, how the connection works, and how it could be changed.

Get super specific

It’s easy to get into the habit of thinking the abstract. This lets you speed through lots of ideas, but when you catch something exciting – stop to make it real. Think about specifics of the implementation, specific actions required, and the implications of those. Go further to the secondary and tertiary implications.

Getting “real” can open up new avenues of curiosity and will ultimately make your insights more powerful and actionable.

Hope this was useful – please chime in with other ways to boost insight!

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