We live in the age of TMI or ‘Too Much Information’ and that has sadly resulted in a situation where we are left with TLI or ‘Too Little Insight’. There is clutter and noise in every aspect of life. There is a desperate demand for simplification and singularity of purpose. “What should I focus on?” “What is important?” “What matters?”
Christmas shopping. I can buy anything I want at the click of a button. And yet I am helplessly lost when it comes to choosing gifts. The amount of information available about gifts, ideas for gifts, reviews of those gifts, and products like those that people have bought are all offered up to me on a platter. And yet, I have lost sight of what each of my family members likes or wants. They are in full view but in many ways out of sight. It takes effort and real conversation to unearth a clue about what they would love to see underneath the Christmas tree.
Media analysis. The share of voice (SOV) of organisation ABC is 31 percent. The tonality of their message is 47 percent positive. The top 20 publications they are featured in, the social media platforms and how they are performing, and hundreds of other data points and dashboards are available at the click of a few buttons. And yet clarity on what they are trying to communicate and why that is important is not always available. Who is the most important audience that they want to reach and why? This simple insight is elusive.
“Can I have a coffee please?” Walk into any coffee shop and the choices are endless. Cappuccino? Espresso? Flat white? Americano? Mocha? Filter? French press? Hot? Cold? Hazelnut flavour? Milk? Soy milk? Large, medium, or small? What do I want? What is good for me? What do I like? There was a time I had to choose between coffee or tea. Now there are a hundred variants of each. At least in this case the insight is much easier to arrive upon as it has to do with my taste buds. I am currently in love with black coffee brewed in a French press. Maybe the answer lies here. Insight comes from inside. Insight also comes from experience. I have experimented and tried a whole range of coffees before settling on what I like.
You have to get into the depths of understanding yourself or a situation before true insight emerges. There is trial and error. Then clarity emerges. The more information that is available the harder it is to sift through it all. In every sphere of life, we truly have a problem of plenty, and this holds particularly true when it comes to information. With this problem of TMI comes the attendant challenge of TLI. Just collating and sifting through all the information is tiring. By the time it’s tabulated and processed there is little time, energy, or patience left to get to any meaningful insight. There is always the appearance of intelligent decision-making. But is it really so? After all, so much data has been collected and analysed. It must mean something. But my sense is that true insight is sacrificed at the altar of what seems to sound right and look right. The information gathering and packaging take way too much attention. The effort to understand what is going on gets neglected.
Seek to understand. Seek to be of service. Seek to find solutions, to things that people care about. This requires a patient mindset. An enquiring mindset. Where asking the right questions is the true skill that will elicit the insight. When people experience this, they see that you care and want to help, a light comes on. From this place, so much can grow. Instead of trying to sound smart and look smart, the smart thing to do is to keep it simple. Focus on what really matters. Show up. Do the work, with a smile, and be grateful for the opportunity.
Instead of looking left and right and up and down and all around, we need to look within. Understand who we are and what we want, as individuals and as organisations. Armed with this inner knowledge, we can set our sights on the right information to gather and then glean truly actionable insights. Maybe that is why they are called in-sights. The journey begins and ends with looking within and truly knowing oneself. I firmly believe insight comes from inside.
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