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The Art & Science of Interpreting Data

Increasingly customer insight professionals need to focus on futureproofing organisations – scanning the business radar to identify and seize in a timely way strategic business opportunities.

Insight professionals need to become the wide angle lens of the organisation. They need the ability to see patterns in a vast ocean of datapoints and bring these together into unifying moments of insight.
They will be the experts in identifying strategic foresights to help organisations manage disruption and drive growth and profitability.

This calls for customer insight professionals to cultivate a range of holistic analysis skills when it comes to synthesizing multiple sources of evidence
and framing the decision choices for stakeholders. These higher order skills
are often associated with visionary leadership. Isaiah Berlin relates this to having an acute sense of what fits with what, what springs from what and what leads to what.

Sensemaking goes beyond the foundation legacy skills of conventional statistical analysis. It embraces many other facets including compensating for any shortfalls in the data, turning black and white data into colour to bring it alive for stakeholders. But, most importantly, sensemaking is about applying judgement, intuition and experience to the analysis process. Sensemaking is truly an art and a science – it requires some solid technical but also creative skills.

DVL Smith has been a pioneer in promoting the holistic – sensemaking – approach to the analysis of customer insight for several decades. Our first book – The Art & Science of Interpreting Market Research Evidence – was published in 2004. This has been recently updated with the arrival of The High Performance Customer Insight Professional: How to make sense of the evidence, build the story and turn insights into action, published in 2019.

The DVL Smith approach to teaching holistic analysis has been inspired by Edward de Bono. De Bono argues that, when it comes to teaching critical thinking and creative skills, it is important to break down the goal into a number of mind sized chunks. In his Six Thinking Hats he introduces different coloured hats to remind us to look at a challenge through different lenses.

Borrowing from this, DVL Smith has developed Seven Analysis Frames that help with the art and science – the holistic analysis – of multiple sources of the often imperfect customer evidence.

The Masterclass will work through each of the Seven Frames showing how to identify powerful insights and strategic foresights and build compelling insight stories. With this sensemaking skillset you will be able to step up to the plate and operate in the futureproofing role that organisations are now expecting.

David Smith will be delivering an AMSRS online Masterclass on this topic on 17th and 24th September 2019. Click here to register.

This article also appears in the August-October 2019 edition of AMSRS publication, Research News – Impactful Insights. Check out the rest of the articles in the hard copy edition.

Photo by Samuel Zeller on Unsplash

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About AMSRS 397 Articles
The Australian Market & Social Research Society Limited (AMSRS) is the peak body for research professionals in Australia. It has a diverse membership of individuals at all levels of experience and seniority within agencies, consultancies, client-side organisations, the non-profit and government sectors, support services as well as institutions and the academic community. As well as over 2,000 individual members, the AMSRS has 52 new company and client-side organisation partners. The AMSRS research professionals and company partners commit to and are regulated by the AMSRS Code of Professional Behaviour.