Tom Critchlow

Filtered for... inquiry vs insight

And an announcement: Launching Little Futures Season 2

August 19, 2020

Insight-porn is rampant in email newsletters.

Insight itself is fine - and great insight is worth the price of admission. But real insight is rare and hard earned. Far too many newsletters that I subscribe to attempt to over-fit insights into their writing. They tell you something and then try and tell you what to think about it.

I think of this as insight-lite. It’s writers being lazy and trying to speak down to their subscribers.

I’m not going to name names. And in fact it’s a balance - some insight is surprising and valuable. Not all emails in this form are bad.

But instead - I’ve been increasingly drawn to emails that choose inquiry over insight. That choose to explore with open curiosity rather than a closed mindset of telling you what to think. Emails that open up possible conclusions instead of writing one for you. These emails linger with me longer and move me more deeply.

Some examples:

Fakepixels by Tina He is a delight. The tagline is “bold thoughts, wild hearts” and every issue is a delight. Tina is not afraid to bear her soul and wander through introspection while at the same time opening up a space for inquiry.

Institute of Belonging by Victoria Stoyanova is a quiet sleeper that has grown on me. Each email is short but contains some wonderful meditations on bringing people together, connection and creativity.

The Uncertainty Mindset by Vaughn Tan is full of… you guessed it! Uncertainty! Tying together food culture, corporate innovation and more this is truly a newsletter of our times.

Sentiers by Patrick Tanguay feels more like a magazine than an email - lovingly designed and wonderfully curated each email opens up new voices and a space for deep thinking outside the fast-feeds cycle.

What are you favorite newsletters that lead with inquiry over insight? Drop em in the comments!

Little Futures Season 2

Little Futures was a short run newsletter that Brian and I started late last year. We only made a handful of issues but it was deeply enjoyable and at it’s best I think of it as almost zen business koans - spaces and ideas that open up inquiry around new ideas and voices. I hope you enjoyed it - because it’s coming back!

What are little futures? What is Little Futures? Well…

Big Futures™ are abstract, authoritarian and empty. “Seeing like a futurist,” if you will. These visions are over-polished, technology-obsessed, and disconnected from reality because they are disconnected from people. For organizations, they tend to be more paralyzing than productive. They portend change without agency. They are done to you, not through you.

Little Futures is about bringing the future within arm’s reach. It’s as much about behavior as it is the tools that amplify, dampen, and reshape it. It’s ways of thinking, ways of doing, and, hopefully, useful provocations for businesses and leaders grappling with the futures they need to be building out today.

Season 2 is going to be 6 issues. Starts next week.

Sign up here: littlefutures.substack.com.


This blog is written by Tom Critchlow, an independent strategy consultant living and working in Brooklyn, NY. If you like what you read please leave a comment below in disqus or sign up for my Tinyletter.
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