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  1. steve james 21 Dec 2017

    Interesting. So where to start with this?

    The introvert is two of the four Myers Briggs personality types. One is the introvert-thinker and the other the introvert-feeler. The first is generally better than other types at distilling data and being rationale. The second is better than other types at forming close 121 relationships. Great traits for being a trusted adviser about sensitive data, I’d say. So, if you are going to call the introvert’s weakness being “bookish”, all well and good, but let’s be fair and note that the average extrovert marketer could equally have their virtues labelled as (unfairly) “socially needy”/ lacking the ability for independent thought/ skitty and superficial et al.

    And, these are hardly the traits you’d want from the team charged with being watchful, objective and analytical, on the organisation’s behalf?. Having worked in insight for a long time, as a 40:60 extrovert:introvert, I’ve frequently been dismayed at how the goal focussed “dooers and wooers” have failed to grasp basic stats or logic, or selectively chosen evidence, or failed to reflect on past lessons. Not always, but often. And am sure you’ve read the types of group-think that have led to market crashes, just as you’ve read about the brilliant introvert minds that have created and changed markets. It doesn’t mean extroverts can’t do insight, just as introverts can sing in public, but if insight is is to become an extrovert’s theatre where the skill is to grab attention and hold court with sensationalised narrative, where is the diversity of thought coming from that is known to make stronger teams and companies?

    It may be that the case study managers you mention are, therefore, simply choosing extrovert insight people, not for the reasons you said, but because they are more comfortable around such people. Because they have become frustrated at the job of meeting different minds “in the middle” and projected the inadequacies outwards. Very easy to construct any narrative you want to justify the personality type you employ. Jury’s still out for me, therefore, on whether this is a lazy-minded fad or a substantial trend. Or, something in the middle.

  2. Stephen Yap 22 Dec 2017

    Great read Mike and I think we can all agree your core message is bang on: the role of insights professionals is increasingly about persuading and influencing, and less on executing.

    However lest this discourage introverts from a career in insights – I must take issue with the use of introversion/extraversion terminology and the implication that introverts are “wallflowers” and “losers”. Introversion does not automatically equate to shy and retiring, nor does extraversion automatically mean the life and soul of the organisation.

    The characteristics you are actually describing are confidence, agility and willingness to take risks. The “traditional researcher” prefers to focus on technical execution and is quickly out of their depth when it comes to the “so what”. Researchers are trained to avoid risks at all costs – not surprisingly many are uncomfortable sticking their necks out or putting forward a strong point of view. The “traditional researcher” can be spotted a mile away in the findings workshop as they have nothing to say!

    As you rightly point, the best insights people are equally as interested in interpretation and business impact as they are in technical aspects; they don’t always need data to have an opinion, and they have an equal seat at the table alongside their internal clients. Any they are just as likely to come from the ranks of introverts as from extraverts.

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