Five Ways Insights Can Lead, Not Lag


Too often, budget and timing pressures compel companies to default to the most familiar research option, and the results can be mixed at best. Here are five ways you can lead – instead of lag – to maximize your research value, influence and insights.

Jenessa Hunter is Vice President, Strategic Planning at Greenberg

Jenessa Hunter is Vice President, Strategic Planning at Greenberg

1.  Lagging: Reacting to stakeholders: In large companies with multiple divisions and stakeholders, the challenge for many research and insights professionals is simply keeping up with the torrent of requests from different internal stakeholders with disparate priorities and strategies.
Leading: Proactively looking ahead: The most important questions are those that remain unasked, or that aren’t considered. Leading organizations undergoing transformation look past the short-term priorities that can monopolize resources and attention, and ask forward-looking questions early and often.

2.  Lagging: Over-relying on research: Too often companies embark on research initiatives with unclear or overloaded objectives, no clear target, and few hypotheses around the potential outcomes. These are all signs that research is being regarded as a panacea to try to create the strategy or path forward.
Leading: Setting clear expectations: Top-performing companies know exactly the questions their research is meant to answer, and they understand how to leverage the results to inform and refine – not define – their strategies and decision making.

3.  Lagging: Operating in a box: In many cases, research operates in a silo, as if the current study is all that is known about a specific challenge, market, product or customer. In reality, it requires more than compelling numbers from a single study to inform – and influence – someone’s thinking or motivate broader organizational change. 
Leading: Connecting the dots: The best research and insights professionals connect research to other already-accepted truths throughout their organizations. Doing so bolsters the credibility of the insights, builds a more compelling story, and has the power to inspire changes in enterprise-wide strategies and actions.

4.  Lagging: Prescribing a methodology: Many research and insights professionals come to their research partners with an already-developed approach in mind – from methodology to markets to target audiences – with the goal of getting to budget approval and project kickoff faster.
Leading: Identifying the challenge: Leading companies share the problem they’re trying to solve, rather than the methodology they want to execute. This approach keeps everyone grounded in the business challenge and leaves room for unexpected ways to emerge for approaching the challenge.

5.  Lagging: Thinking it’s about you: Does this sound familiar? A business or brand dilemma is tied to a specific product or service issue. If you can just figure out what features to add or what additional services to offer, users would be more satisfied or more active.
Leading: Knowing it’s about your customers: A wider competitive and cultural context plays a significant role in your business. Innovators regularly look beyond their walls, across industries, and into different competitive landscapes to understand what their customers are doing – and who else they’re doing it with – to help shape views of their own products and services.

If you’d like to discuss more ways your research can lead to greater influence, value, and insights, please contact us at