This is the second in a short series of weekly posts discussing each stage of the Design Thinking process. In the first article in this mini-series I challenged the absolute structure of the process and suggested that our ability to empathise with a subject is something that could be differently described. Stage 2 in our version of the process follows on and looks at insight interpretation. In this article, we reorganise the method slightly and look at the need to see your data differently. To receive our free e-book on how to See Your Data Differently, click here.

To achieve an adequate understanding of a subject, it seems obvious to look for clues in as well as around it. This involves digging into what you know and looking for what you don’t. It doesn’t matter who you are and what the subject is, there’s always something you don’t know about your own market. In a nutshell, this is probably where the value of an outside perspective adds the most value.

Today, the sources of data are many and varied. The amount of data is almost inexhaustible and our ability to read everything has to be questioned. How you decide to approach this part of the process has a direct impact on the depth of understanding. Don’t get me wrong: there is absolutely no question that you know your market, customers, competitors. But to design you a strategy that reaches into the future, we must decide what we believe is going to happen.

It comes down to filters and confirmation bias. The perspective that you occupy has a direct effect on how you interpret information. If your search history is loaded with searches for pictures of cats, you’ll get a different set of results than if you regularly look for stories on vegan cookery and yoga.

In fact, the commercial search engines do this automatically. You will always receive a set of search results filtered by Google, or whoever, that the AI decides best meets your need. It’s the same kind of algorithm that decides which adverts you should see.

Adopting a naive attitude to data search is hard if you aren’t truly naive. You can’t unlearn what you know. And so we bring a different perspective to projects. Our relatively superficial knowledge of your business is valuable. In fact, it’s invaluable. To see the world as you see it would be OK. To see it differently is massively useful. As outsiders, our lack of filters is our strength.

Once the data are in and we can discuss what will affect your future, we can get around to ideating. But we don’t make any apology for being focused on challenging your team’s view of the world, the market, your consumers and your competition. Future landscaping and scenarios planning demand it. Otherwise, the best you can hope to do is validate your beliefs – confirm your bias. That may be a good outcome, but our strapline is ‘innovation justified’. If we can help you use insight to reveal a different set of future trends, a different set of possibilities and a different opportunity, your outlook can shift into a strategy, with justification built in.

Future thinking. Future proofing. Innovation justified. It’s what we do at room44. Listen to the audio version here.

To receive our free e-book on how to See Your Data Differently, click here or sign up to receive our weekly ‘Innovation insights’ newsletter published every week.

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