Gaining Strategic Insight From Social

by Jay Deragon on 09/13/2012

“There is nothing so terrible as activity without insight.”

The word insight means the ability to perceive clearly or deeply,  a penetrating and often sudden understanding of a complex situations.  Many businesses have opinions about the value, or lack thereof , about all things social. Few consider “all things social” of strategic value accept maybe as a marketing function.
Opinions can be a dangerous luxury when substituted for insight and understanding. It has become apparent that today’s business leaders lack interest in gaining insight from all things social.

CEOs’ Lack Interest In Gaining Insight

HBR blogger Alessandro Di Fiore has written an important article that refers to strategic insight. Di Fiore makes reference to Peter Drucker’s 2001 article in The Economist where he stated “businesspeople stand on the threshold of the knowledge society. In this society, a company’s competitive advantage will come from a historically underdeveloped asset: the ability to capture and apply insights from diverse fields.”

The challenge with Drucker’s theory is when you aim to create insight from knowledge within an organisation, the insight has no ownership. There is no process to develop strategic insights in most organisations.  The challenge for organisations is to create a place for development of strategic insight.  Knowledge and insight are two distinctively different things that may or may not come from the same place.

Where Is The Place To Gain Strategic Insight?

If the challenge for corporations, leaders and managers is to create a place to develop strategic insight then the next issues begs an answer to the question of “where is that place?”.

If you try to create insight from knowledge within the organization then the insight has limitations created by the very knowledge, and the things that influence the knowledge, that rest within the organization.  The same issues apply to the knowledge contained within industries. Internal knowledge, whether a company or an industry, tends to attract related knowledge and the sources learn to speak in their own languages. Subsequently anything or language from the “outside” tends to be dismissed even if the represented knowledge contains profound insights.

Social technology creates “places” where people converse and share. The conversations represent insight into anything and everything but you can’t recognize it if you don’t have the ability to perceive clearly or deeply the understanding of what the conversations are saying. The conversations are filled with insight about your products, services, markets, customers and the future of your industry.

The problem is that most organization only listen to internal redundant knowledge rather than external dynamic knowledge. To gain insight you must seek dynamic knowledge from the outside that leads to deep strategic understandings inside. 

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