In describing how innovation can be more effective – and so perhaps better satisfy those managers identified by Klein who fear the destabilising effects of creativity – Payne has a lengthy section on insight, which he describes as “unquestionably an innovator’s most vital tool”. However, he then qualifies this by explaining that there is considerable confusion over what exactly insight is. He and his colleagues have come up with a working definition along the lines of “a fresh, potent, energizing truth about the consumer or the business”, but acknowledge that insights can come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Fahrenheit 212 splits these into two broad types – consumer and commercial – with the former including such areas as functional, emotional and behavioral and the latter the likes of financial, operational and technological.
As for how these insights come into being, Payne says that insight generators tend to be one of three kinds. The Detective takes an aggressive approach, observing and interviewing people in action, asking lots of questions and then piecing all the clues together. The Introspector instinctively begins the hunt by looking inward and exploring their own experiences and feelings before extrapolating from that into something that might work in the world at large. External research is then used to test hunches – or to spark new ones. The Empathizers have a gift for putting themselves in other people’s positions and imagining how they feel. External research is used less to find answers than to supply context. His point is that all approaches are valid and that effective insight hunters often use a variety of methods.