One of the reasons my clients love me, so they say, is because of my business insight. On a personal level, people can find me intimidating is because of my ability to pinpoint an issue and go straight to that point. And that had me thinking about what skills I use, that I can help you with, that will help you hone your business insight.
What is business insight?
Business insight is when one takes raw data, processed information and applies experience to derive an advantage (insight) for your business. This insight can be actionable, able to be acted upon or be a detailed action, or informative and may be used in the future to inform other insight.
What specific skills do I use to form my business insight?
I did think of originally writing that I wished you could have my years of experience and tertiary qualifications, I actually wouldn’t wish that on anyone. I once ran through all the roles I had in my 12-year public service career and the listener couldn’t believe that I did all of the tasks. I’ve done A LOT, experienced some stuff that I really should never have been put through, and to be honest I wouldn’t wish the tears I shed on anyone else.
Yet outside of the experience and qualifications, there are a few skills you can use, right now, to improve your business insight.
Perspective-taking is a two-step process where you have to listen to hear what is being said and what is not being said (that bit comes with experience and practice) and then be able to empathise and put yourself in the place of the other person.
You have to park your own drivers and be able to tap into their drivers and how the story and problem they are describing would impact them.
A great first step in this skill is to listen, repeat back a summarised version starting with “So what I am hearing is” and also include, “So I guess that makes you feel/means to you that”. A person will then confirm if you’ve heard them correctly and that your ability to apply that to their drivers is correct. Parents: have a go with your kids, you’ll be surprised what you hear.
A little adjunct to perspective-taking is being objective, this can be particularly hard if you’ve had similar experiences or you’re close to the other person.
I know that when my objectivity goes out the window, my fact-checking is wrong and I need to listen for the factual words I’m being told.
I often find that the more emotive a conversation, the harder it is to be objective.
I learnt the saying “just the facts, ma’am” when I was working in compensation and had to summarise evidence to counter claims from lawyers. My objectivity really focuses on the ability to differentiate fact, fiction, and emotion.
I can find that some people get flustered by having to keep on the facts, but I know that it helps to get to the nub of the problem sooner. (and with greater clarity)
I’ve been told I can be too analytical, meaning that I’m somehow insensitive. I have to tell you that that can not be further from the truth. It’s just that when I’m in work mode, sometimes I need to be analytical and remove emotion so that I can solve an issue.
Being analytical can go anywhere from a list of pros and cons, by mine will generally weigh up implications, opportunities, risks etc. against current circumstances and the drivers of the owners and the business. My aim is to always move a business towards its full potential and goals and being analytical can mean doing less, seemingly going backwards, and letting staff go so that the business can benefit in the long term. (I’m a firm believer in short term pain for long term gain)
My insight must take into the personal drivers of the owner and their health, physical, mental, spiritual, and financial. Too often I see businesses making decisions that do not support the financial health of the owner. Or I’m confronted with business owners at breaking point because they have worked themselves to exhaustion.
Being able to take an holistic approach requires the ability to perspective take. You have to be able to read what is left unsaid. And you have to leave any preconceived notions on how you would react in the same situation at the door. It takes practice.
Improving your business insight is more than coming up with new perspectives and ideas, it’s also about improving your insight into yourself and I firmly believe that this is where we personally win when helping others gain insight in their business, I know I do.
P.S. If you need help with these skills, please contact me, and if you are looking for someone to go right to the nub of the problem and provide insight for your business, then I’d love to show you how I can do that for you.