The world is full of people who provide ideas. Ideas are common in business as evidenced by hundreds of books by so called gurus on any subject.
However, insight is much rarer and therefore more precious. A good insight can be the source of many ideas. An insight states a truth that alters how you view the world and can help you solve a problem.
Why insight for Singapore? Due to matrix reporting structures and a dynamic economic environment across Singapore and Asia, success requires leaders to have the ability to solve problems in multiple contexts.
It’s no longer enough to be a man of ideas. It’s also not enough to be the implementer of ideas. Leaders who can provide insights to solve problems will have an edge.
This is all the more critical with Singapore’s latest aspiration to be a hotbed of creativity and innovation. Insights sometimes come from the most unlikely places.
Baseball manager Casey Stengel accepted that on any team he managed, one third of his players liked him, one third hated him, and one third were undecided. He said that the secret of managing is to keep the guys who hated you away from the guys who are undecided. This is great insight on managing teams.
Here is another one from Martin Seligman author of Authentic Happiness. A Pleasant Life consists of having pleasant experiences such as sharing an excellent meal with a friend. A Good Life consists of using one's signature strengths. A Meaningful Life consists of using one's strengths in the service of something much larger than you are.
We can have a Full Life which consists of a Pleasant, Good and Meaningful life. That’s powerful insight in leading one’s life. In business, if you have the capability to provide insights, you will be able to solve problems effectively.
Clients will seek you out to do business with you. You will also be perceived as a thought leader and a sought after speaker. Journalists will reach out to get your take on business tissues.
So how do you generate insights? A problem well stated is a problem half solved because it prompts you to look for an insight rather than a quick fix idea. So the first step is to define the problem clearly. Then you move to research.
You collect data and opinions so that you can understand the problem and approach it with more information. Next step is analysis. Smart analysis coupled with research leads to insight. Business strategy armed with insight solves problems and provides a competitive edge.
Being the “idea man” is no longer enough. All of us are in the insight-generation business now. The sooner we realise it, the better it is for our organisations and the clients we serve.
The views expressed in this column are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect this publication's view, and this article is not edited by Singapore Business Review. The author was not remunerated for this article.
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Maneesh is a regional marketing director for a global professional services company and also the Asia Pacific advisory board member in Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council. He has lived in Singapore for over 10 years, has travelled extensively across Asia, the Pacific, and the Middle East, and contributed to the success of many diverse teams in the B2B space. In 2011, he received Brand Leadership Award for Excellence in Branding & Marketing conferred by CMO Asia.