Insights // Building the Bridge

Imagine trying to jump across a river from one bank to the other. Most of us will end up wet.

Executives want to jump from “what we know,” which is the Discovery phase and “where we want to go,” the Ideation phase. However, without separating those two phases with the “ah-ha!” moment of Insight, we risk merely drawing a straight line from the past into the future.

Instead, the design thinking process saves the frustration of failed innovation efforts and begins bridging “what we know,” with “where we want to go.” In our consulting engagements, we use the “Insights Formula,” which is a step-by-step process to find break point or inflection moments.


The first step is ensuring a broad set of Observations, desk research, user observations, and ethnographic interviews to understand our user’s “current state.” We worked with a call center, and when meeting with the agents, we heard comments like,

  • “our customers have impossible demands,”

  • “you messed up my order,” and

  • “why don’t your people do their job?!”

Although we want to solve these problems, we need to pause and continue listening to uncover the user’s dilemma. After hearing the abuse these agents take each day, it was time to listen to their concerns:

  • “my calls are all complaints,”

  • “tomorrow, I’m calling in sick for mental health,” and

  • “I’m frustrated because I got into this role to help people.”

Finally, we engage in the converging process of Insight generation. Here we find the user’s “wish, want or change.” Again, this is not a linear extension of “what we’ve always done,” instead, take a risk-based on the confidence of the Observation work. Speaking in the agents’ combined voice, we developed the following Insight:

  • “Empower me to help people as they need it.”

This statement lifts the agent and provides them the autonomy to reengage why they came into the job, “I got into this role to help people.” Where can your organization use this human-centered approach?

Explore our online design thinking course to join a global cohort and refine your Insight skills.

Jeff EyetComment