Creating a culture of insights sharing isn’t a one-and-done activity. It takes more than a training session, a new technology rollout, or a splashy event. It requires ongoing commitment from both insights team members and business decision-makers.
That may sound like a lot of work, but the results are worth it. According to research from Forrester, advanced insights-driven businesses are 8.5 times more likely than less advanced businesses to report annual revenue growth of 20% or more. Forrester also found that advanced insights-driven businesses innovate faster and are more resilient in the face of change than their less advanced peers.
So how do you create a sustainable culture of insights sharing that places market research and customer insights at the center of business decisions? As an insights leader, you can help facilitate insights sharing and engagement for both your team members and stakeholders.
1. Make insights-sharing as easy as possible
Let’s face it: if the process for publishing and sharing insights is difficult and takes significant time away from other impactful activities, insights team members won’t want to do it.
You can help your team overcome this challenge by making it as simple as possible to share insights. For example, you might create templates for packaging up key findings so that team members don’t feel like they are starting from scratch with every new report. Or you might run training sessions on insights sharing best practices so team members can more efficiently and confidently deliver insights to stakeholders.
It’s also a good idea to look for processes that can be automated. If team members have to manually add tags to make their content searchable in your intranet or research library, consider adopting a platform that will automatically generate tags and make all content (regardless of format or file type) searchable. Or if team members have to set reminders for themselves to archive time-sensitive content once it goes out of date, consider using a system that will allow you to automatically schedule content to be published or unpublished.
2. Model the behaviors you want to see
It’s not just your insights team members who need to participate in your organization’s culture of insights sharing. It’s important that your stakeholders – namely, the business decision-makers who can benefit from data and insights – are also active participants. They should be regularly engaging with the insights your team generates and applying relevant insights to their decision-making process.
One of the best things you can do to drive stakeholder engagement with your insights is to give them on-demand access to insights through a centralized, searchable platform. However, if your stakeholders aren’t used to self-serving from an insights platform, you may need to model the behavior you want to see until it becomes routine. For instance, if someone asks a research question over Slack or email, you could share a link to content that answers that question in your insights management platform, or you could encourage them to search the platform to see if their question has already been answered.
3. Educate stakeholders with self-serve resources
For some stakeholders, a lack of participation in your insights-sharing culture may stem from a lack of research understanding or discomfort with data. This barrier is a common one: 76% of key business decision-makers report that they aren’t confident in their data literacy skills.
The solution? Help educate your stakeholders so they feel more comfortable and confident using data and insights to make decisions. Consider holding training sessions on data literacy and market research basics – and make your training recordings and materials available on demand. One of my company’s customers shared that in addition to using their insights management platform for research reports and presentations, they also use it for educational resources, including information on the tools they’re using, research methodologies, and the overall value of research to the company.
4. Bring your stakeholders in earlier
A culture of insights sharing shouldn’t just exist at the distribution point of your research projects. Consider giving your stakeholders opportunities to engage with in-progress research projects to get them invested early on (and get them thinking about how the research might impact future decisions).
The project design stage is one point where you may bring in key stakeholders. While your insights team will drive the project design, stakeholders will have a chance to learn what you’re working on and share their own priorities and hypotheses. Not only is this an opportunity for stakeholders to get involved early on, but it’s also an opportunity for your insights team to better understand stakeholders’ needs and how to effectively communicate with them.
You might also share “dispatches from the field”, or quick behind-the-scenes updates on research in progress. These updates can help educate stakeholders about the research your team is conducting and improve their understanding of the findings when you ultimately deliver them.
5. Encourage dialogue around insights
Insights sharing should be a two-way street. While your insights team is responsible for generating insights and making them accessible to stakeholders, your stakeholders are responsible for engaging by asking questions, sharing their reactions, and thinking critically about how to apply insights to their area of business.
Many insights teams are getting creative with strategies for engaging their stakeholders and promoting conversation. For example, one of my company’s customers shared that they are using sense-making sessions. They will share reports with stakeholders in advance, then bring them together in an interactive session to discuss implications and action items. They use a mix of Q&A, breakout group sessions, individual thought exercises, and convergence on key takeaways to ensure that everyone is an active participant.
In addition to real-time collaboration, it’s valuable to give stakeholders ways to engage with insights asynchronously. If your insights management platform allows users to comment and ask questions, encourage stakeholders to use these tools to engage with your research. When your stakeholders and insights team members communicate in this way, your organization preserves the exchange of ideas and information – and may even use it to optimize processes or shape future research questions.
Build a sustainable insights-sharing culture for long-term benefits
By taking steps to build a sustainable culture of insights sharing, you’ll be enabling your stakeholders to make more data-driven decisions, increasing the impact of your insights team, and setting your business up to better deliver on the needs of your customers. Make the investment in embedding the practice of insights sharing within your organization now, and you’ll experience long-term benefits in terms of revenue, customer experience, and innovation.