“I’m happy,” Gal Alon says, grinning, as he scrolls through a page of the latest insights submitted to Arlington’s new project. “This is some very wise advice.”
Arlington wants to make engaging with the county government easier, and to figure out how to do so officials decided to turn to key stakeholders — county residents. They’ve brought in Insights.US to help collect, and analyze, the feedback.
Alon founded Insights.US five years ago in Israel but, since January, the company has been based out of D.C. incubator 1776. In a nutshell, Insights.US offers a digital decision-making tool.
It works like this: Clients — cities, governments, nonprofits or businesses — choose an appropriate membership level and start a “project.” This project is a question, something these clients (the decision makers) want input on from interested or knowledgeable stakeholders. Stakeholders then have the chance to provide open-ended feedback on the question at hand.
But Insights.US doesn’t just provide a platform for easy feedback, it also identifies and surfaces key takeaways. Decision makers get automatically generated reports based on the feedback provided, eliminating the need to sift through hundreds or thousands of responses.
Based on these insights the decision maker chooses the best path forward. Insights.US differentiates themselves from standard polling in that the service provides streamlined, qualitative feedback for decision makers — not just quantitative data.
A lot of the verbiage surrounding Insights.us sounds corporate — perhaps nothing more so than the constant references to amorphous “stakeholders.” But for Alon the tool is really all about community and change and impact.
Alon’s passion for impact is what drove him to a career in journalism, then government and finally to found Insights.US. It is also what brought him to D.C. “This is where true change begins,” he said.
Being able to prove impact is extremely important to Alon, which is why Insights.US has a mechanism to measure its influence on decisions made using the platform. Insights.US asks decision makers to disclose their initial, pre-insights stance on a question as well as the decision they ultimately end up making. By comparing the differences here, the company boasts that it has made an impact on over 60 percent of decisions made using the tool.
Another central function of Insights.US is the ability to send personalized updates and feedback to participating stakeholders on the decision that was made. This is the mechanism with which the company hopes to build community — to let stakeholders know that their feedback is appreciated and, in the best case scenario, even made a visible impact.
To date, Insights.US has been used in over 250 projects, with clients ranging from Arlington, Va., and Austin, Texas, to MedStar Health. More than 400,000 stakeholders, there’s that word again, have filed their feedback.