• Erika Brenner

So, what’s an outsight and why do we need to talk about it?

Reclaiming outsights and giving them equal status to insights





For me to give a proper explanation, first I’ll need to give you some context and share a little bit of a rant - bear with me for two minutes, will you?


You see, coming from advertising and being the “plannery” type, I was often told that “planners have to be the smartest person in the room” - as if we were this know-it-all guru, expected to not only have all the answers but also to sell our “cleverness” to clients. I passionately believe that’s utter BS.


Planners do NOT have to be “the smartest person in the room” - and to be honest, they shouldn’t feel like they are the “most” anything in any room, but that’s a topic for a different post. Yeah, sure, one of the perks of the job is that we are exposed to a bunch of interesting and varied information - but do we have to be so pretentious (and delusional) about it? Ugh.


In fact, admitting you are not the smartest person in the room is probably the best thing you can do as a planner - because then, what you’ll actually be doing in that room is listening, questioning, being empathetic, looking for different perspectives and, most importantly, learning.


As planners, we’re meant to help our clients by understanding consumers, finding what motivates them, what makes THEM tick - but how can we truly do that if our starting point is always our own experiences and “what we know”? If we don’t admit we are not the “source of all truth” and try to step into consumer’s shoes, how can we get to meaningful insights?





Fortunately to me, because I’ve worked abroad and in very different cultures for most of my career, I’ve hardly ever had the luxury of relying on my own experiences as “the truth”, so it has been interesting to look at situations from an outsider’s perspective and I do believe it often gave me a different edge.


Obviously, I am not denying the importance of “insider” knowledge - however, I believe “outsiders” such as myself have something just as valuable to offer and that is often overlooked.


The other day, while sharing my frustration about this with my soon-to-be husband and debating the depth and meaning of insights, he said:


“It should be called OUTsights, not INsights”.


Voilà! Just like that, the idea of “outsights” was born. It just makes so much sense, and it made me wonder why I haven’t heard about it before. Diversity has been scientifically proven to substantially impact creativity, innovation, and businesses as a whole. - so why don’t we talk about outsights in the same way as we do insights?


Now, it’s important to note that I am not saying insights suddenly don’t matter (because, of course, they do), and I am also not saying that outsights are better than insights - but, at the very least, outsights complement insights by bringing a new perspective and challenging the status quo, opening so many more possibilities.


And isn’t that just so incredibly exciting?