Synthesis: it doesn’t matter how you categorise your post-it notes

You do still need to sort your data

Some ways to get the magic happening

  • Write down your random ideas: Capture those fleeting thoughts as they happen and put them somewhere to come back to later. This often takes the form of questions for me. “Why do people love blue so much?” or “Imagery=Emotion but not for C21?” or “False hope?!!!” These are actual post it notes from a recent project. Many of them won’t go anywhere. Others prompt conversation and ideas. You won’t know which thought is useful until much later.
  • Walk someone through it: Externalising my thinking is what works best for me. I talk through what I’m seeing with someone, and that helps me to understand it. If I could only do one thing it would be this, and I’d do it every day.
  • Pull out the key anecdotes: There’s always particular stories from research that you find yourself telling again and again. Pull them out and examine them. Why are they resonating? How do others react when you tell them?
  • Plot it on a journey: Yes, journey mapping. But in an exploratory way rather than for communication purposes. You could plot activity, or look at emotional state over time, or just compare the best to the worst journey.
  • Opposing force analysis: Identify tensions where two things may be true at the same time. “People don’t want to be guided” and “People have a better experience if they’re guided.” They’re both true. Identify those moments and then ask yourself, so what?
  • Connection analysis: Look for connections between themes. Sometimes they jump out at you, sometimes you need to force yourself to see them. Try putting two seemingly unrelated things together and see what happens. Do these things mean something different together than they do in isolation?
  • Visualisation: Try drawing what you’re thinking. Sometimes our synthesis wall is full of little vignettes, calling out what we think is happening.
  • Challenge: This is best done with someone else. Challenge each other about what you’re seeing or thinking or writing down. Is this really true? Is it representative? Why is it important?

To close…

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