Insight sounds self-explanatory…

Many of us have a clear idea of what we mean when we refer to insight – for example, having a good understanding of a potentially complicated issue. However, gathering organisational insight is not a clear, one-size-fits-all approach. What insight looks like for your organisation can vary wildly depending on factors like your purpose, size and target audience.

Insight is invaluable for any organisation – identifying trends across your work programme, encouraging big-picture thinking from your team and even helping shape your strategy. An analogy for this could be a dot-to-dot picture (bear with me). You know there will be a clear picture after connecting the dots but can’t quite see what it is yet. But these hypothetical dots aren’t numbered so there are multiple ways to connect them which you must test in order to uncover the final masterpiece. This flexibility is exciting and gives lots of room for innovation but can also seem daunting.

How is OSR approaching insight?

This is where my new role as Insight and Evaluation Manager comes in. When I joined OSR four months ago, I was impressed at the quality and breadth of our work programme for such a small team. I saw immediately that team members were always encouraged to get involved in work outside their area where possible. There was a clear focus on the importance of highlighting cross-cutting themes and building insight across the UK statistical system, including the state of the statistical system report, data gaps and promoting greater coherence and transparency in the communication of statistics. By bringing these outputs together we can build something bigger and interconnected – how we do this is what makes up a large part of my role.

Before I joined OSR, as part of our insight development we had conversations with other organisations to learn about how they define and gather insight. Thank you to those who took the time to share their experiences. Now we are using what we learned through that work to shape our insight programme around the following themes:


Our biggest aim for this year is to develop a more sophisticated use of evidence. We will identify what data we need to gather at different project stages and capture this in a way that can be easily restructured, analysed and visualised to show key themes.


Once we have strengthened our internal capability, we can be in a stronger position to build quickly and share insights across the statistics system. The greatest value lies in this next step – providing the big picture to help producers learn from each other. We must communicate effectively with our audience through a variety of channels, share good practice and areas of concern, and listen to their needs.


Both themes above depend on an embedded approach to insight across OSR, both in our mentality and processes. Because we are a small team, it’s down to everyone to play their part. If we all see insight as inherent in our work, not a separate afterthought, it is much easier to build a self-sustaining system to generate insight. This is the ultimate goal!


We may be small, but we can provide powerful insights which impact across the whole UK statistical system and beyond. I’m excited about the year ahead and will see you in the summer for the state of the statistical system report 2021/22.

If you would like to speak further, feel free to contact Grace Pitkethly.