Data ≠ Insight

The more strategy decks I look at the more I’m convinced people don’t know what an insight actually is. Data ≠ Insight ~ Me, on Twitter

Insights are about connecting ideas and reading between the lines in ways that generate novel thoughts and ideas about the situation at hand.

Insights don’t show up easily; they require exploration, curiosity, and thinking. And mostly, asking “Why?”.

Insights are what you learn when assessing situations and data. They’re not written on the surface for anyone to look at—they take a trained mind to connect disparate information in ways that lead to novel ideas that can then be used to inform strategy and action.

Data, on the other hand, is information.

Reports, metrics, facts, etc. Data is not hard to come by; it’s often right there for anyone’s taking. It involves no thinking nor exploration.

To put it in words similar to my friend Maryam Zaidi: data is the building block of insight. Insights are the lessons learned from data and experience, and are best when actionable, because then you can do something with what you’re learning, as opposed to just looking at decks of numbers that don’t answer the question “why?”.

Related to this is the concept that journey maps are tools not outcomes. Journey maps are populated with data from research, which is then studied and used to generate insights that lead to action.

Additionally, zoom-in-zoom-out thinking is a way to dance back and forth between data and insight while generating novel ideas in the process.

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