Who's afraid of the big bad strategy?

Does the challenge of developing an effective strategy for Insight seem daunting?

Insight leaders are busy with the day to day running of their teams. It’s easy to understand how a seemingly complex and involved task is something that gets put off for another day.

Are you a strategy cynic? You may be thinking ‘What’s the point? Who’s going to care?’

Maybe you’ve been there, done that. But somehow your well thought out Insight strategy has gained little traction both within your team but also the wider business.

Well, let’s stop there for a minute.

  • Might it be easier than we think?
  • Could it be more worthwhile than we think?
  • Is there a way to make it more impactful?

Customer Insight has the potential to transform any organisation's performance, but first our organisations need to transform their Customer Insight. Developing a strategy for how Insight can make a difference in your company may seem daunting, but leaders who attended the 54th meeting of the Insight Forum in London shared frameworks and tips to make it achievable.


“He who fails to plan is planning to fail.”

Sir Winston Churchill


Let’s make it easier – a strategy is simply a plan

A few Insight leaders expressed the view that sometimes the word ‘strategy’ feels a little grand. Isn’t it really just a plan? A strategy is simply a plan for getting to where we want to be.

  • Where are you now?
  • Where do you want to be?
  • How will you get there?

The IMA’s Insight Roadmap sets out that an effective Insight team has a clear strategy and has made conscious decisions about its scope, scale, goals and development journey. An Insight strategy should include a clearly defined vision and mission.

  • Vision - A compelling, evidence-based vision of how Insight could give your organisation competitive advantage.
  • Mission - An ambitious mission statement to focus effort and enthuse Insight team members.

Put simply, your vision describes where you want to be, and your mission is how you’re going to get there. Together they form a plan, and that plan is your Insight strategy.


“If not me, who? If not now, when?”

Mikhail Gorbachev


Why develop an Insight strategy and what are the benefits?

If nothing else, the potential for having more influence and control are enough to tip the balance in favour. Developing a strategy can help us off the proverbial hamster wheel, and it can also be critical to motivating and inspiring our teams to deliver greater value.

At the Insight Forum, several Insight leaders shared their reasons for developing a strategy. One theme, perhaps unsurprisingly, was being newly appointed to the leadership role. Recently appointed leaders used the development of a strategy to provide clarity on key areas of focus for the team. Aligning with overall business strategy helped to prioritise and ensure that Insight was adding value where it really mattered.

Some leaders described the collaborative process of involving everyone in the team in developing the vision and mission, including the use of vision boards and workshops. This brought people together, ensured everyone’s voices were heard and gave individuals a sense of personal ownership. Doing so helped to motivate one team that was previously ‘responsive and undervalued’ which then helped them to build confidence and influencing skills.

Once the strategy is agreed and written down, what happens then? The message that came over loud and clear from those Insight leaders with effective strategies already in place was communicate, communicate, communicate! They advocate an approach where the Insight strategy becomes a key touchpoint; take everyone through the strategy at the start of every meeting, link every conversation back to the Insight vision and mission.

One leader talked about how they had started off thinking that everyone else needed to be excited about the Insight strategy but has since realised that stakeholders are far more excited by the results. Having an effective Insight strategy means they can say to stakeholders “Look at the decisions we’re making as a result of the work my team is doing.”


How the IMA can support you to develop your Insight strategy

In terms of visualising the role you want your Insight team to play, we recognise there are a few different ways in which an Insight function can contribute to its organisation's success.  

The IMA's Insight Participation Matrix identifies four different ways in which Insight teams might play the game, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. The matrix, and all the other material shared in slides at the Forum meeting, are now available to members, and a full report How to develop a successful Insight strategy will be available at the end of October.

If you'd like to make a start on your strategy for Insight in your own organisation, we would be very happy to help. Please contact us to get started.