Insights for commercial innovation

Here's some tips on how insights can initiate rainmaking states for innovation for your organisation.

Investigating the data, behaviours and trends affecting customers and users reveals opportunities for innovation. Obviously, the more insights, the more innovation opportunities.

It would be wonderful if innovative ideas came out of nowhere and simply landed in our laps ready to be executed. The reality is, however, that most innovative ideas are a result of extensive investigation and sense making from the sea of information available about our customers, clients and consumers.

Insights also come from determining the key trends that are most likely to affect us in the near future and being able to truly understand the inner thoughts, feelings and desires of our customers, users and consumers. The more we research, the more insights, opportunities and new territories we find worth exploring. In short, investigation is the foundation of great innovation. 

Traditionally, most organisations see the investigation phase as the responsibility of R&D departments. It’s this type of thinking, however, that has led to stagnancy or even the demise of previously successful organisations. The truth is, any department can research and add value to an organisation. Relying on a product-based R&D department to initiate all of a firm’s innovation is a sure fire way to end up on the scrap heap.

The investigation phase includes not only looking for insights and information about customers, but also revealing or clarifying the reasons we ourselves want to innovate. My definition of an insight is a thought or train of thought that is the result of seeing behaviour, situation, event or trend from a fresh perspective that reveals an opportunity to utilise the behaviour, etc. in a new way. 

If we don't look for insights we could potentially be wasting lots of time. Imagine going fishing without any idea of where the fish will be. Sure you can throw a line into the water, but if there aren’t any fish around, no matter how good your bait is, you’re not going to catch anything. 


The fish in this analogy are similar to innovative ideas, which are what we want to catch. The location of the fish is similar to insights. A depth sounder helps fishermen by showing them where the fish are. It doesn’t catch the fish, but it makes the job of catching them a lot easier by indicating their location. The same concept holds true for our innovation archetypes. They may not create innovative ideas, but they can reveal insights that enable you and others to create lots of commercial ideas.

We can find insights from gathering and deciphering data, reviewing emerging trends and anticipating future scenarios, and finally we can generate insights by looking at the needs, desires and aversions of our customers.

Insights lead to brilliant innovations.

Good Luck fishing!



Nils Vesk

Founder of Ideas with Legs | Innovation speaker | consultant | author

nils vesk