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Generating Insights

A guide to generating insight through research.

Research is the primary risk management tool you have in product development. It is also the biggest driver of insight and breakthrough ideas.

The challenge many people face is doing it in a way that retains creativity and objectivity. Balancing the technical and human centred approaches can be a challenge but the results are worth it.

This resource sets out a practical approach to undertaking research for product development. It provides guiding principles for primary research and how to interpret information and create insights.

Our approach has been developed from a range of other approaches and our own experiences. It provides a common approach that can be applied across all types of research.

The research loop

Understanding people’s needs and requirements is the key to unlocking insights, but is not enough on its own. It must be coupled with a broader understanding of the business, product, and technical context; the product system, which is achieved through customer research.

This research loop is iterative, and used throughout the development process to deliver fresh insight into the process. It does not stop once we have made the major breakthroughs.


The goal is to learn about the context with an open mind to develop a greater understanding.


This is the precourser to insight; we find that as we learn, our understanding develops to the point that insight is possible.


This is when everything suddenly comes together into a form we can understand and communicate.

internalcircles RESEARCHLeads to understandingUNDERSTANDINGLeads to insightINSIGHTLeads to breakthroughnew products

The broad process

The process of turning research into insights is generalised into four stages: prepare, capture, understand, interpret.

The objectives should be relative to the scope of the project – an objective that is too broad won’t achievable. What do you need to know at this stage of the development process?

Define the different research streams and begin by recording your hypothesis for each. For example, customer research, technical research, competing products or market research streams.

This will drive the research to query whether they are right or wrong assumptions.



What are you trying to answer?


What do you know, or think you know, about the customers and the product eco-system?


What approaches will you use to conduct the research and capture the data?



What are the details of the research events? Outline/plan for where, when, and who.



How will you pull all the data together to make sense of it?



What do you need to translate the research into insights?

To learn more about how to successfully generate user insights, download the full resource at the top of the page. It’s completely free!