RCA descriptions and study reports often suggest that RCA generates insights rather than findings. The use of the word insights is not unique to RCA but is a widely adopted in other qualitative methods descriptions and reports. But recently we were challenged that insights may be a smokescreen for ‘unvalidated findings or a slightly less robust finding’ .
This is in complete contrast to the reasons why we use the term.
Oxford Dictionary defines insight as ‘the capacity to gain an accurate and deep understanding of someone or something’. Collins Dictionary defines ‘insight’ as ‘a penetrating and often sudden understanding of complex situation or problem’.
We believe that what turns findings into insights is engagement. Insight is gained through digging deeper through active listening and active participation. Insights bear more responsibility than findings as they include the behavioural implications of findings. There are often plenty of findings but we need insights to understand how development interventions can work better. Insights are generated when we spend time with target groups, immersing in their lives and understanding how and why people make the choices they do.
So, for example, RCA study insights have provided an understanding of why road workers in far west Nepal did not wear their safety boots (too big, too hot and workers felt less safe in them), why people in haze affected areas in Indonesia do not heed warnings because they feel generations have coped before and are not aware of the real risks and how, again in parts of Indonesia, the literal understanding of TV baby milk powder advertisements led people to curtail breast feeding and buy formula to make their kids ‘smart’ or ‘tall’. Understanding people’s perspectives of phenomena comes from looking out for and gaining insights.