Time to think about strategy

In last week’s 5 Minute Insight email I asked whether this could be a significant time for our corporate Insight teams.


Wouldn’t it be fantastic if we looked back in years to come and identified this as the moment when Insight teams evolved from departments that hunted facts and figures to be the farmers of joined-up Insight knowledge?


This week, I’d like to think about the strategies we should be thinking about for Insight in our organisations. Which begs the question: does your organisation currently have an Insight strategy?

If it doesn’t, don’t worry. But if the coronavirus lockdown has disrupted your normal research and analysis activity, could this be an opportunity to think about a strategic plan for your Insight team?


To transform company performance, we need to transform Insight

One silver lining of the present crisis is that it’s going to be very difficult for any CEO to take big decisions without first asking for customer insight. Now more than ever, Insight will have the potential to transform any organisation’s performance.

However, this will not happen with great research, rich data and clever analytics alone. If we want to transform our organisations, we first have to transform our corporate Insight teams.

The first step is to develop an Insight strategy. Or, if that label puts you off, a strategic plan. 

It doesn’t have to be that complicated, but it does need to address fundamental issues about why our organisation invests in Insight, and what success could look like over the next few years.


The key elements of Insight strategy

A strategy consists of a description of where you would like to get to, and a plan for how you are going to get there. For Insight leaders, this means we need to consider questions such as:

  • In a perfect world, how could our organisation’s performance be transformed by Insight?
  • What resources, skills and knowledge would we need to make that happen?
  • As an Insight leader, do I have the ambition to make Insight make a real difference?


Only by thinking about our organisation in its external, consumer market, and then our Insight team in its internal, organisational market, can we create a realistic vision for the future.


Initially our vision might look like a mind-map, or a collection of sentences, scrawled ideas in a notebook. It might be a series of options that we need to discuss with our boss, or debate with our senior colleagues. 


It doesn’t have to be pretty, but it does need to be profound, because in most organisations there is no particular reason to think that Insight will achieve really transformational success without big changes to the way we do things.


Once we are more comfortable with our vision, we can engage our Insight team members in crafting a mission statement and devising team goals. We can reflect on the implications for the resources we will need, the scope of our activity, the data inputs and the way we will package the outputs.


We can think about the timescales involved, the milestones and the measures of success along the way. We can consider how we might tap into inspiration from Insight leaders in other organisations, and the support we’ll need to combat the challenges we are sure to face.


But for the moment, all this is probably in the future. The critical thing right now is to start the process. Let’s seize any opportunity that the disruption has brought to our normal research and analysis activity and make this the time to think about our strategy for Insight.


If you can make time to explore these ideas further…


The IMA has published a range of 10-page Insight leader guides on the topic of Insight strategy – see list below. If your company is an IMA member and you have an online account with us you can read them whenever you like, but please remember that you will need to log in to gain access to the member-only content.

IMP501: An introduction to Insight strategy

IMP502: How to identify the opportunity for Insight

IMP503: How to define your ambition for Insight

IMP504: How to identify options for your Insight team

IMP505: How to execute an Insight strategy


If you are not sure if your employer has an IMA membership yet or if you can access these guides, please contact us and we'll be able to help you.


James Wycherley

Chief Executive, IMA