Want to have more INSIGHTS?

Craig Browne

What actually is an insight?

Dr David Rock, of the Neuroleadership Institute, says this:

[an insight is] “the sudden appearance in conscious awareness of a new and useful relationship among previously known information.”

When I heard this in a presentation by Dr Rock and his co-researcher, Dr Jessica Payne, at the recent ASTD in Denver, I was immediately struck by the words “appearance in conscious awareness.” The implication of this is of course, that the process of having an insight takes place, at least partly, in our subconscious and is then brought to the attention of our conscious awareness. Furthermore, Rock said, “No one solves complex problems at will” the answers arrive from the subconscious.

Often this subconscious bit happens during sleep or just before entering or waking from sleep. In fact, sleep may be vital for solving some problems – so the common call to “take a break” or “sleep on it” may genuinely help. Insights can even (really) happen in the shower or driving your car or while you are knitting! The important thread in these situations is that while we sleep or are distracted by some other activity such as showering, our brain is not consciously trying to solve the problem. But, during these activities, parts of our brain can be subconsciously working on and experimenting with ideas and solutions.

We often see this kind of thing when people are using the CCS. People regularly pick cards without even really knowing why.  They will even say,

“I am not really sure why I chose this but it just seemed to jump out. I guess for me it means …”

… and then they begin sharing. Of course, this may not always lead to dramatic insights, but it does regularly bring surprises and deep and memorable discussions and understanding.

Rock and Payne also listed quality reflection conditions that may enhance your chances of having insights:

  • get quiet – a quieter brain has more insights
  • be internally focussed
  • be positive (negative thoughts are ‘noisy’)
  • not consciously trying to solve the problem.

I can’t help again seeing the link to the way the CCS can be used as a tool for critical self-reflection and  to generate visual brainstorms that encourage people to raise all kinds of possibilities.

So, always be ready to encourage your participants to pull out whatever CCS cards jump out at them, especially if they are not quite sure why!

Who knows what insights may arise?


To find out more take a look at this article:


or if you are really serious, try the Neuroleadership Institute: www.neuroleadership.org

Craig Browne

Craig is co-founder of CCS Corporation, co-developer of the CCS, a designer, educator, product developer and award-winning game maker.