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A guide to prioritising insights for your research repository
Insights series

A guide to prioritising insights for your research repository

In this post, we explore a crucial aspect of building a powerful research repository - the process of prioritising insights. In this step-by-step guide we walk through how to use this to your advantage, and drive the most impact from your repository.

Nick Russell
July 20, 2023

In this post, we explore a crucial aspect of building a powerful research repository - the process of prioritising insights.

Research repositories have the potential to fuel innovation, influence strategy, and drive growth. However, not all insights are created equal.

Over the years since founding Dualo, we’ve found it's important to understand the difference between strategic and tactical insights, and have discovered how to use this to your advantage to drive the most impact from your repository.

Let’s dive in…

Strategic vs. tactical insights

Insights come from a variety of sources
and vary in the reach and value they hold.

And when building a research repository, it’s worth considering how strategic or tactical an insight is.

So what’s the difference, and why does it matter?

Strategic insights

Strategic insights are the bedrock of your repository - they have a broad reach, often spanning across various domains, and holding long-term value.

These insights help decision-makers make informed choices, which can shape the direction and overall strategy of an organisation.

For example, understanding the expectations of a customer segment or identifying emerging trends in the market.

💡 Strategic insights are also often referred to as “timeless” or “evergreen” insights due to their long-term nature.

Tactical insights

On the other hand, tactical insights are often more focused and time-sensitive in nature. They assist in making quick decisions within a narrower domain, providing immediate value but typically with less ongoing impact - particularly outside of their original context.

For instance, an insight about the design of a specific user journey or product feature might fall into the tactical category.

💡 Tactical insights are often talked about as having an ‘expiry date’ or ‘shelf life’ due to their short-term nature.

It's helpful to think about strategic and tactical insights as a spectrum, rather than black and white definitions. As some insights may lie somewhere in the middle, possessing elements of both strategic and tactical value.

Prioritising strategic insights

It’s important to prioritise your core strategic insights when building and adding to your research repository. 

A mistake many teams make when building a repository is dropping all of their research reports and insights in, without enough thought or consideration - not thinking about how the end users of their repository e.g. their fellow researchers, wider teams, and stakeholders will eventually use it to look for key insights.

You need to clearly differentiate between strategic and tactical insights, and use this to apply a strategic-first approach - consolidating your most impactful insights first, the strategic insights that are going to hold the most value for your organisation.

This way, you can quickly maximise the impact of your repository, start to engage broader audiences, and ensure your repository holds long term value - encouraging other researchers and wider stakeholders to keep coming back for more.

🔎 How to do this in practice…

1. Define ‘strategic’ vs. ‘tactical’

Start by noting down your thoughts around what ‘strategic’ and ‘tactical’ insights mean to you within this context.

⚠️ Avoid referencing specific insights at this stage. Instead, focus on capturing what you already understand about these different types of insight, and how you’d describe these to others.

An example of the output from this first exercise (completed with 3 researchers).

Next you want to bring your notes together and start to identify the common themes.

An example of the output from grouping your thoughts (completed with 3 researchers).

Now fold your thinking from the grouping exercise into a concise definition for ‘Strategic insight’ and ‘Tactical insight’.

💡 Try threading your themes into a short paragraph to define each type of insight, and display these at each end of a spectrum (see below).

An example of the insights spectrum with definitions for ‘Tactical insights’ vs. ‘Strategic insights’.
⏰ You should aim to agree a definition for a ‘strategic insight’ and a ‘tactical insight’ for your team within 45 mins (based on a group of up to 6 people).

2. Map a sample of your existing insights

Next you want to map some insights that you already hold onto the strategic/tactical insights spectrum you’ve created.

If you’re doing this as a team, we recommend running this as a ‘show and tell’ exercise, where each individual has some time to present example insights before deciding where to place them on the spectrum.

In the spirit of prioritisation, choose a topic that’s currently in the spotlight at your organisation, which you already have a number of research documents for.

Work through each document extracting the insights and placing these on your insights spectrum, using your definitions to challenge yourself around where each insight sits on this scale.

⚠️ If there are any insights that you’re unclear about where to place, leave these to one side for now as you can always come back to these later. At this point you want to focus on the clearly strategic insights that you’ve identified as part of this exercise.

An example of the exercise above completed by 1 researcher auditing 2 research documents.

⏰ You should aim to complete the audit for an initial sample of your existing research insights within 45 mins (based on a group of up to 6 people).

3. Agree what to prioritise for your repository

Once you’ve mapped your sample insights, it's time to decide what gets prioritised for adding to your research repository, by drawing a line on your strategic/tactical spectrum to agree on which insights you’ll add first.

💡 If someone was joining your team or organisation today, what are the most important insights they would need to know about your chosen topic in order to hit the ground running? Would what you’re prioritising here help them with this?

⚠️ Consider de-prioritising insights that don’t have enough evidence, or perhaps require further investigation – you can add these into your research backlog for now instead.

Completing this exercise will help you to create a shortlist of high value strategic insights that you can prioritise adding to your research repository, alongside any supporting documentation.

An example of using the strategic/tactical spectrum to prioritise what to add first to a repository.

Completing these exercises will help you to map a spectrum of insights and provide clarity on the content you want to prioritise adding to your research repository.

⏰ You should be able to prioritise which insights you’re going to add to your research repository within 10 mins (based on a group of up to 6 people).

⚠️ Ahead of jumping into the build or refinement of your repo, you’re going to want to think about the taxonomy for your research repository that you’ll use to classify and organise these insights and documents (more on this in our next ‘how to’ guide!)

Closing thoughts

As researchers, we must prioritise quality over quantity. It's easy for our colleagues (particularly non-researchers), to get overwhelmed by the sheer volume of insights we gather, but remember, it's the impact that matters. 

A quality repository doesn't rely on quantity alone. Instead, focus on including strong strategic insights from the start that will form a solid foundation of your repository. 

Just 10 to 20 strategic insights, focused around a priority topic or theme, can create a powerful repository or complement an existing one. And by selecting only the most relevant and valuable insights, we ensure our repository will be recognised and adopted as a valuable asset.

Starting small with a focused approach allows you to establish a strong foundation and gradually expand. A research repository is not a static entity. It should evolve and adapt as new insights emerge, as should the research and insights within them.

As you continue to refine your repository, you can always consider revisiting and adding tactical insights that provide immediate value within a specific context, which, when combined with other tactical insights may well develop into more strategic insights over time.

This ongoing process of careful curation, centered around prioritising your strategic insights, ensures that your repository will generate maximum impact, and hold long-term value as it scales.

As always folks, happy researching!

Work with our team of experts

At Dualo we help teams to define and prioritise the insights for their research repository as part of the ‘Insight definition and taxonomy’ module facilitated by our Dualo Academy team. 

If you’re interested in learning more about how we work with teams, book a short call with us to discuss how we can support you with the development of your research repository and knowledge management process.

Nick Russell

I'm one of the Co-Founders of Dualo, passionate about research, design, product, and AI. Always open to chatting with others about these topics.

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