Founder & CEO
Our Story and Vision
InsightNG’s smart-thinking platform has the capacity to alter the way we navigate the world of knowledge. Our Founder, Neil Movold explains how a long, difficult journey in his life led to game-changing innovation.
“Quick, I need you!” My wife’s panicked voice sobbed down the phone. For a moment, I was paralysed with horror. Then I slammed the receiver down and sprinted blindly out the door into the bright Bermuda sunlight.
It was 2004. Life had been good to me. I lived in an island paradise with my beautiful wife and daughter. We were expecting a baby boy. Two honors degrees, an Executive MBA and a wealth of experience saw me climbing the corporate ladder and I’d recently been named as one of the 75 people who’d made a significant impact on Bermuda in the past 75 years.
I couldn’t envisage anything other than a bright and happy future. That phone call, on a Tuesday afternoon like any other, detonated a bomb in our happy world.
I felt I was living in a novel or a movie. Every worst case scenario spiralled through my head as I raced to the medical centre where my wife Lise was having a routine pregnancy scan. The doctor explained to us that our son Jaden would be born with the most severe form of spina bifida and a host of other medical issues. He would spend his life struggling in a world designed for able-bodied people.
Nothing had prepared me for the shock of the diagnosis and the stress it wrought upon my small family. In one fell swoop, my experience and knowledge were rendered useless.
During the sleepless nights and endless discussions that followed the same questions emerged: what would we do? How would we get through this?
A wall of fog
I’m a pretty smart guy. I like to find answers, solve problems. I figured there must be an answer if I only researched enough. I got nowhere. I couldn’t find much cohesion in the information I found, and little that applied to our situation. Being in uncharted waters meant I didn’t even know what I needed to know.
I began to doubt myself and my critical thinking skills. But even through the wall of fog that seemed to be hiding a solution, I remember thinking:
Surely I’m not the only person dealing with this kind of situation, and surely there must be a better way to deal with it?
Research could only take me so far. I needed someone to find a better way of dealing with it all and since this new family reality was mine to own and deal with, I decided I had to step up. Take action. Be that person to find a better way.
With my son’s due date just a few months away we packed up and moved to the other side of the world to my wife’s home country: New Zealand.
The missing link of tacit knowledge
We all hope we’ll never face crises in our lives. Most of us don’t have the skills to deal with new, complex situations. However, the reality is, most of us face new challenges every day: at school, at work or at home.
This fact hit me when I moved to New Zealand. I had to adapt to a new set of rules and a different culture and work ethic. The executive roles I took on gave me an insight into New Zealand’s position as a young and evolving small market economy: in an increasingly export-dependent country, increasing the skills necessary to compete internationally was a critical, but a slow process.
I spent a few years developing a unique private-public partnership model focussing on global entrepreneurship and trade. The private part of the partnership was established through SB2 International Ventures, which eventually shut down due to the global financial crisis. The partners came from the tertiary, private and public sectors within New Zealand and Canada, and the idea was to harness deep-level intelligence into target markets that could not be found elsewhere and act on it.
Over time, my observations and discussions with the various stakeholders highlighted a curious synergy between my personal situation and this business world I was exploring and helping. The same theme cropped up over and again:
How can you gain the necessary insights to drive important decisions, when you don’t know what you need to know?
I ended up writing a discussion document around my experiences and what if questions, focusing on “an Adaptive Response to the Converging Forces of Innovation and Economic Globalisation” and the concept of what I called Informed Navigation.
This part of my journey would become a catalyst for several unexpected and enlightening conversations over the months to follow.
Meanwhile, I was spending a lot of time in hospital waiting rooms, which gave me plenty of time to reflect on the lessons I was learning in business and from our journey with Jaden. I also had time to chat.
One day an idle conversation with a stranger in an orthopaedic outpatients clinic turned into something bigger. Her son also had spina bifida. She’d been there, done that, bought the t-shirt. As we talked she helped me understand that life with children like ours doesn’t have to be a limited one. In fact, she pointed out that it could be pretty amazing.
I felt a rush of relief at the shared wisdom. The conversation also ignited the beginning of an idea.
What if we could find all the people in the world who have been there and done that, and use them to fill in the pieces of a complex, seemingly unsolvable puzzle?
This idea began to niggle at me. I started to look deeper for the patterns from which these chance conversations emerged. I read scientific research and spoke with all kinds of people, from CEOs to educators to Olympic athletes, trying to discover the ways in which they learned and made sense of the world.
Another wall of fog!
And then, in the midst of all this productivity: another devastating phone call. Another bolt out of the blue to turn our lives upside down. My wife was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. So rare, the doctors told us it was a 1-in-10 million diagnosis.
History repeated itself with more sleepless nights and more frantic research into the unknown. There was also despair as we were again confronted with a future that would be very unlike the one we had planned.
The wall of fog was back!
Current tools are lacking
Using my Informed Navigation theory, my wife and I tried to reach out to others who had been there and done that. However, the reality was that everyone’s challenge is different, and conventional searching tools don’t always make the connections between them.
Most tools only served to log what I thought was relevant, reduce mental clutter or put myself in online conversations that were frustratingly irrelevant for the most part. Helpful yes, but I was still in the dark.
Reluctantly, my wife, by now a medical curiosity, surrendered herself to a lineup of medical students and doctors. After grueling treatment, the cancer was beaten – for now.
Confusion and complexity are common
While I channelled my worry and energy into my family, my Informed Navigation idea was gaining momentum, working its way into the sphere of several organisations. I began to have discussions with, and field calls and emails from organisations all over the world who told me they were also having difficulty gaining the insight to make good decisions.
These organisations included New Zealand’s biggest company Fonterra; a media group in Boston focusing on niche social networks; the Australian military; and Ministries of Education in New Zealand and Canada, as well as a few health sector organisations.
Some of the people I spoke to saw their obstacles as poor problem definition, others the difficulty in getting everyone on the same page.
By now, I knew I was onto something, but I needed help. I reached out to leaders in neuroscience, psychology, creativity, innovation and artificial and machine intelligence. These experts told me scientists are finding more and more evidence about how human insight works – that eureka moment, including physical responses in the brain, or processes we can repeat to reach new, unimaginable insights.
The research and hours of discussion were fascinating, but much to take in. I struggled to assimilate the information. It felt like I had all the pieces of the puzzle, but I couldn’t make sense of it. I was still in that uncharted territory of not knowing what I was looking for, or what questions to ask and to whom.
A trusted, super-smart best friend
It was the woman I met at the orthopedic outpatients clinic who gave me one of my most powerful aha! moments. She was now a family friend but I hadn’t forgotten that initial feeling of having someone knowledgeable by my side.
In an exhilarating rush of insight, the unconnected pieces of the puzzle slid into place. I didn’t need a better way to search, or more hours in the day. I wasn’t looking for one smart friend – or even a handful of them: I needed a smart, intelligent virtual friend.
A friend who can understand the unique context of my situations, discover the gaps in my understanding and point me in the direction of relevant knowledge and individuals. A friend who will grow and learn alongside me on a long journey, always ready to help. A friend who could help me gain the insights needed to take me from frustrating confusion to clarity.
Although this friend would help me on my journey, my passion for helping others made me wonder:
Could I help others find their own super-smart friend, too?
OUR VISION : Better Thinking. Better Decisions. Better World.
Since InsightNG began in 2011, we have built a small, experienced team of technology and business professionals. We all have the same goal: to help people improve their critical thinking and gain insights to improve their personal and professional lives.
We foresee a future where everyone is equipped to deal with the complexities of life and work in the 21st century and beyond. To enable this future, our focus is on using cognitive computing technologies to amplify human cognition.
By upskilling and unlocking the missing know-how, we’ll be able to make better sense of the information and knowledge we have and collect much faster, reaching the insights needed to take meaningful action and create a better world for the future of humanity.
Your Smartest Friend and the Global Brain
Our online platform gives you your own “Smartest Friend”: a companion who will work beside you on your problem-solving journey.
Your friend is motivated, and understands the context of your particular situation. They can fill in gaps in your understanding, pointing you in the direction of others with relevant knowledge.
Your friend is an intelligent networker, upskilling you and itself wherever possible, but you are always in control, learning and developing whatever it is you need for your current challenge and whatever the future will throw at you.
Part of our vision is to build the cognitive fabric of a “Global Brain” of know-how and experience, allowing your Smartest Friend to unlock valuable human knowledge on a global scale. Anyone can opt into the Global Brain, adding their knowledge and context to help out others on their quest to overcome complex problems or drive important decisions, so they can have easier and more enjoyable lives.
Not there yet but early successes in education and corporate
Our platform isn’t complete, but we already see signs of success from our various beta releases.
Within a focus group of university students working towards their Masters or PhD, 30% decided to change the direction of their studies. This outcome is remarkable given the average amount of time the students in the group had been working on their thesis was 2.5 years.
I have seen intermediate school children engage in self-directed collaborative and co-creative exploration of complex topics, such as researching and discussing the impacts of the ivory trade in Africa, in ways that the teachers have never been able to achieve through other methods. Seeing typically shy children working alongside the more outspoken ones was fantastic for me to witness. Even the teacher was amazed and thrilled with the learning potential.
We have corporate researchers using the platform with greater success than other platforms and tools they have had at their disposal.
Some users are using the current first generation release in ways that we had not even thought of, which is always a great outcome when building technology that is somewhat blue ocean in nature.
Leaving the world better than when we found it
Our world is shaped by individuals making decisions, but we all know that some decisions turn out to be bad ones, even catastrophic ones. By making better decisions ourselves, we can be world-changers. Making these decisions means having the right knowledge and insights at the right time – and knowing what to do with it in a meaningful way.
Through real life experiences and with the guidance of my Smartest Friend, I’ve realised life with my son Jaden isn’t going to be bad at all.
Although he’s endured twenty-three surgeries and many difficulties in his short life, Jaden’s an amazing kid. In fact, he’s achieved more in his eleven years than most of us will do in their entire lives. He’s a national ambassador for disability rights, hangs out with celebrities and royalty, has completed sixteen triathlons and his goal is to swim at the Paralympics.
Life is unpredictable, and we don’t know what’s around the corner. But we’re now better equipped to navigate together, as a family.
Since that life-changing day in 2004, my desire to create a better life for my family than the one we saw unfolding before us has not faltered. And now, that goal has broadened to my professional life: helping others find their way out of the mist of fog and into clarity.