Era 3 Model

Strategic Insights Skills ModelTM

What does a successful strategic insights professional look like?

In Era 1 (the birth of the marketing research field) and Era 2 (beginning in the mid-20th century with scientific rigor and new ways to reach consumers), management expected research to answer questions.

In the last 10 years, we’ve seen the birth of Era 3, with rapid technological and societal change bringing us closer to the consumer than ever and the promise of artificial intelligence and block chain technologies bringing further disruption.

Era 3 dawned with the emergence of the “Insights” professional, based on the recognition that the traditional “answer questions” role would not be enough to meet management demands of insights that drive strategy. Insights pro’s must not only understand research, they must understand the business. 

But today’s Era 3 leaders still manage and train with Era 2 methods.  It’s time to evolve.  It’s time for new management tools and processes to build strategic skills.  So we did what we do best – create solutions. 

  • We gathered a big-thinking team of insights directors, young insights professionals, and marketers with experience in successful companies to identify the strategic behaviors of well-performing insights teams.

  • We validated these strategic skills using a corporate researcher survey with the insights Association (read the Quirks magazine article).

  • The result is the Insights Brief, which has been tested and validated by leading US corporate insights departments. It embraces the latest in human performance enhancing technology from organizational development leaders at major universities to incorporate the most up-to-date thinking.


From all of this, we’ve designed a new way for insights teams to develop ROI-impacting strategic skills and behaviors.

This Strategic Insights Skills model is the basis of Olivetree Insights’ tools, software and coaching. (More on Our Coaches

The Model embodies the behaviors and habits of well performing strategic insights professionals for today’s business environment. It incorporates a set of 5 behaviors, with corresponding specific and measurable skills:

EXPLORE – Brings an “open-eyes” approach to the hypothesis and discovery process, allowing insights professionals and those around us to find new approaches, new opportunities, and new solutions.
REFINE – More keenly apply critical thinking skills to focus on stakeholder strategy that profitably attunes to the business’s marketplace conditions.
ALIGN – Intertwine multiple stakeholder perspectives to improve the quality of and confidence in your end results as well as establish you as a full team partner.
HARVEST – Express and elevate the customer and marketplace voice in the decision-making process to influence the business ecosystem.
EVALUATE – Evaluate your work – be accountable for using the right methods, prioritize learnings and company needs, and comply with your company’s existing standard of performance measurements, their KPI’s, to ensure you can prove and increase your value to the company.

More about this in the Quirks article: