Three Keys to Unlocking Great Insights

We can’t plan for insights but we can still increase our chances for gaining them. Some of the most effective tactics run opposite to our usual tendencies.

Beyond Perfection

Insights can take us beyond perfection by helping us discover what we're really after. Too often, people settle for perfection — the achievement of their initial goals. But insights let us identify richer goals than the ones we start out with. We gain enlightenment about our true needs.

Insights Vs. Organizations

Most organizations claim—and sincerely believe—that they want to increase insights and put them to use. We shouldn’t let that sincerity fool us. Organizations inadvertently suppress the insights of their workers and they do it in ways that are ingrained and invisible. Organizations stifle insights because of forces locked deep inside their DNA.

Cognitive Roadblocks

Even with the same information, some people gain an insight and others don't. There seem to be four main barriers that cut the chances of achieving an insight. Two of them are beyond our contol, but we may be able to do something about the other two.

The Different Forms of Insight

Insights come in several forms. Most research uses the impasse form in which a person gets trapped by a flawed assumption and cannot find the solution to a puzzle without discarding this assumption. A second form depends on noticing contradictions and realizing that an accepted view must be incorrect. And a third form relies on noticing connections

Hopelessly Irrational or Wonderfully Creative?

Insights pop into our mind without any warning, in contrast to controlled, logical thinking. Insights provide a complement to the heuristics-and-biases worldview. Sure, we have to worry about making bad judgments. But we also should celebrate our capacity for insights.