Benefits to Unleashing Your Inner 5 Year Old

By Iain Montgomery

Posted Jul 30, 2016

Insight. One of those often overused terms in danger of diminishing when used to describe almost any fact or piece of information.

What actually is ‘insight’ – and why does it matter? The New Oxford Dictionary describes it as “The capacity to gain an accurate and deep intuitive understanding of a person or thing”. 

In the business world, this means developing a keen and holistic understanding of your customer in order to elicit a specific emotional response: ‘you understand me’. The interesting part of the process is determining and utilizing insights to achieve this.
Allow me to provide an example: On a recent project involving qualitative interviews with lottery players, three quarters of our sample talked about playing mobile games before going to bed. This is a behavior, not an insight. 

Insight is why they play mobile games before going to bed. Our interviewees came from all walks of life – business people, stay at home parents, students and blue collar workers. Essentially, they played mobile games before bed for a chance to check out from daily life, to distract them, and hopefully ease into a good night’s rest.
But how do you get to that insight? I recommend you unleash your inner 5-year-old. In my experience, the best researchers lose their inhibitions, look at the world with a sense of childlike wonder and don’t worry what their subject thinks about them, just as a boisterous kindergartener will not care when they keep asking you ‘Why?’ to every response on where babies come from.
Build on what you already know

Take the information you have about your customer’s behavior, and squeeze out all of the value. 

5 year olds are constantly learning and building on the knowledge they have developed in a short space of time. It isn’t yet engrained in their behavior. 

Put yourself in your customers’ shoes
Interview and observe people in their natural surroundings, such as in their own home, at work, or in transit. 

5 year olds have a natural empathy and see the world from other people’s perspectives, such as like by following their parents around or just watching the world go by.

Give yourself time to think
Insights don’t always come in meetings or workshops; they can come when you are least expecting them. If you are stuck, go do something else and revisit the challenge later. 

5 year olds aren’t tied to deadlines, they also get bored easily,  they go play with a different toy and come back to the puzzle that bamboozled them later.

Keep asking ‘why?’
Insight discovery isn’t easy, but keep going – push through the barriers. The effort you put in correlates to the value you get out.

Curious 5 year olds, ask ‘why?’ a lot, no matter how annoying it may be. 

Test the insight in action
When you think you have found an insight, question where it might take you. Make sure it is actionable.

5 year olds quickly take what they have learned and try to apply it themselves. If it doesn’t work, they start asking ‘why?’ again.

Remember there is no such thing as a ‘bad insight’. The purpose of gathering insight is to open up possibilities. Do not feel constrained by things, build on your insights over time and use them to generate great ideas!.

About Contributing Writer:

Iain Montgomery
Source: Iain Montgomery

Iain Montgomery is an Engagement Manager & Innovation Consultant for Market Gravity, an agency specializing in insight, proposition design and rapid prototyping. Iain has helped to design breakthrough new propositions for the some of the UK, US & Canada’s biggest businesses.  In his spare time Iain is a true ‘wantrepreneur’, seeking the ideal start-up or can be found exploring some of the world’s more obscure travel destinations.  He can be followed on Twitter or LinkedIn