Specialization Spotlight: Insights

At Doblin, our practitioners are aligned to at least one of three specializations: design, insights, and business. While we work on truly collaborative teams, our specialized practitioners each bring a unique perspective and integral skills to our work. This series aims to illuminate each specialization, their role on teams, and their contribution to the exciting work we do at Doblin.

Our insights practitioners put the “human” in human-centered design, bringing the voice of the customer into conversations it may not have been previously, and using it to inform the creation of new offerings and experiences. They hold a deep curiosity about people’s opinions, behaviors, needs, and beliefs, and that curiosity drives them to help us design innovative new offerings that can address previously unmet needs.

While our teams work together throughout the course of a project and the different phases of our work, each specialization contributes more strongly to specific elements that correspond closely to their skillset. Our insights practitioners could be considered our “starting players,” as they set the stage for the project by determining our initial point of view on the best way to solve a problem through research. They contribute the most during the “discover” and “analyze” phases of our work, as they lead field research and analysis through heavy collaboration with the rest of the team.

Our approach to concept and offering development is multidisciplinary, iterative, and collaborative.
Our approach to concept and offering development is multidisciplinary, iterative, and collaborative.

How insights practitioners are involved throughout our process:


During problem framing, insights practitioners work to define how that framing will impact our research: who we will speak to and what we will look to understand from them. This requires breaking down a challenge and knowing the first step to understanding it


Insights practitioners plan research through the selection and/or creation of the best tools and methods for the problem at hand; lead field research and facilitate other team members’ contributions to fieldwork


They lead the team and client through analysis and synthesis of research data in a way that will easily facilitate the later creation of new offerings


They drive desirability considerations in the creation of new offerings, connecting insights to opportunities

Test + Develop

They lead any evaluative research through heavy collaboration with our design practitioners, who create prototypes that help elicit the desired information to iterate on our designs

Our insights practitioners are responsible for representing the lens of desirability – maintaining the voice of the future user throughout the project duration and advocating for what will be beneficial to them. They then collaborate with business practitioners to find the compromise between customer value and business value, and with design practitioners to manifest customer needs into the actual design of a new offering or experience.

While our insights practitioners play the most integral role in our teams during research and analysis, their contribution goes beyond this. Because we practice human-centered design, they must make sure that findings and insights from research are carried through the entirety of the project, informing everything we do from concept development to prototyping. Carrying through the thread of research allows us to design offerings that are directly based on customer needs and desires. This necessitates the creation of actionable insights during analysis – which requires the ability to pull meaning out of raw data and articulate its application on the creation and design of new offerings and experiences.

Our insights practitioners have strong tactical skills in research—everything from research planning to interviewing—and can easily flex between generative and evaluative research. We use generative techniques at the beginning of our work to help identify ideas for innovations and opportunity spaces, and evaluative later in the process to test our prototypes and improve on them. Each type of research requires appropriate techniques, and our insights practitioners are careful to practice things like ignoring hunches, or not leading the interviewee, while knowing what threads to follow based off of the larger problem we are looking to solve. And because all of our team members participate in research, our insights practitioners are also responsible for imparting their skills and modeling proper research techniques for other team members.

We sometimes say that design and innovation work is like “cutting cubes out of fog” – starting from scratch with a wicked, broad problem and adding structure and frameworks in order to solve it in an innovative way. The research work our insights practitioners do is foundational when tackling these huge problems – and it’s not an easy task. The special sauce they bring to researching, analyzing, and synthesizing in a meaningful way elevates our work, allowing us to build innovative new offerings and experiences for our clients.