Develop Insights

After exploring new perspectives about your design challenge, you’re left with a lot of information. Developing insights moves us from gathering data from different perspectives to finding patterns and themes to making hypotheses about the underlying causes and impact. We move from a descriptive analysis - "What did we hear and see?" - to an interpretive analysis - "What does this mean for our design challenge?". This inductive process enables us to see big, important aspects of our challenge in a new light, and to be able to design meaningful solutions to solve for it.

Since you’ll be organizing and reorganizing your data, we recommend using post-it notes to remain flexible as you work. By the end of this activity, you should have 4-6 insights (or "AHA!"s) that were synthesized from your data, and link what you learned to the implication on your design challenge. In addition to insight statements, we recommend using a visual framework to either help generate insights, or as a way to organize them.

Time Needed

2-3 hours

Reflect Overview

To help illustrate the evolution of your learnings - from data to patterns to insights to design principles - we have taken examples from our project about how teachers receive, share, and make meaning of feedback.

 

Guide to Insights

Sometimes, it’s difficult to know where to start when you’re analyzing the data you’ve collected. We’ve provided a few methods you can use to begin finding patterns as you sort through data. This can happen after the Explore phase, when you are sorting through what you’ve learned in Reflect, or in the Play phase as you gather feedback about your prototype.

 

Option 1: Rose / Bud / Thorn

1. As your team discusses what they’ve learned from the Explore or Play phases, identify data points as being positive (rose), having potential (bud) or a problem (thorn).

 

2. Select different colors to indicate whether it’s a rose, bud, or thorn, and note the data point on the corresponding colored post-it note.

 

3. After sharing out, sort similar post-it notes into clusters to see what patterns are emerging. Give each pattern or grouping a title.

 

 

Option 2: P.O.I.N.T. Technique

1. As your team discusses what they’ve learned from the Explore or Play phases, identify data points as one of the following:

 

P = Problems
O = Obstacles
I = Insights
N = Needs
T = Themes

 

2. Select a way to indicate the type of data (either through colors or a label), and note the data point correspondingly.

 

3. After sharing out, sort similar post-it notes into clusters to see what patterns are emerging. Give each pattern or grouping a title.

 

 

Defining Insights

Now that you have grouped similar data points to find patterns, you can use a variety of different frameworks to help you interpret those patterns. Themes become insights when you answer the question, “So what?”

 

Use the following questions to help you reframe patterns into insights:

 

• What do these patterns mean?
• Why are they important?
• Why are they occurring?
• What are the implication on your design challenge?

 

When you’ve landed on a general statement that describes the implication of the pattern on your design challenge, write it above the group. This will serve as the insight statement for that group. Keep going until your team has an insight statement for each pattern you’ve uncovered.


You may want to add a short description to each insight so someone outside the team would be able to understand the insight and its impact on your design challenge.

 

By the end of analyzing, synthesizing, and interpreting your data, you should have a 4-6 insight statements that bring your design challenge into focus.

Visual Frameworks Overview

Visual frameworks go beyond text to help people understand complex topics, and to organize your insights and learnings in a comprehensive and compelling form. People are naturally attracted to visuals; they enlist the viewer to build meaning from what they are seeing. They also offer a clear and succinct overview (especially for complex or multi-faceted concepts) that a block of text cannot.

To help organize your insights, we have provided different types of frameworks. Choose the organizing structure that best fits your data.

 

You can find instructions on how to develop each model in the Visual Frameworks Overview PDF on the right.

 

Conceptual Model

A basic framework of how your insights relate to each other.

 

Good for:

  • Organizing patterns, themes, or insights into a framework
  • Finding gaps in the story you’re telling - what aspects of the story are missing?

 


Empathy Map

A visual representation of your users and their needs.

 

Good for:

  • Empathizing in order to develop a more meaningful solution
  • Using as a resource to reference as you design new solutions for your user(s)

 


Experience Map

Depiction of the experience of one or more groups of people over time.

 

Good for:

  • Showing the overarching story of people’s experiences
  • Pinpointing areas of greatest opportunity for future solutions

 

 

User Type Framework

Characterization of different types of people based on patterns around their behaviors, attitudes, beliefs, motivations, or aspirations.

 

Good for:

  • Making sense of the complexity of different behaviors, attitudes, beliefs, motivations, or aspirations between groups of people
  • Developing differentiated solutions for different groups of people

 

 

System Map

Representation of how people, organizations, processes, and technologies connect.

 

Good for:

  • Gaining perspective into the context you’re exploring
  • Understanding the elements of the system that influence the experience of your users
  • Identifying the constraints and opportunities you have within the context of the system

 

Examples of Insight Statements

The following examples of insights were drawn from from BIF's Feedback for Teachers study (upon which TD4Ed was created). Remember -- insights are the "so what?" of the patterns and themes that are pulled from the data.

From our data, we learned that teachers consistently struggle to:

  • Maintain a sense of autonomy and feeling of agency over their classrooms and teaching efforts
  • Coordinate teaching and learning in a collaborative way amongst fellow teachers, advisors, and support service providers
  • Balance the external factors of a student’s life while providing a stable, safe place for children to learn
  • Find outlets of expression and feedback that are tied to self-assessment and growth
  • Take control of their professional growth

These ultimately impact their ability to teach effectively.

Take a break

During these activities, your team will be using a lot of brainpower, and it can get frustrating and overwhelming. When that happens, take a break and come back to it later. Giving yourself and your team some space from your project can sometimes lead to “AHA!” moments of insight.

Insight iteration

Check to see that your insights are all big enough to highlight a clear pattern, yet unique. If an insight is too specific, see if you can find a larger pattern that it fits. If an insight is too vague, see if you can tease some apart into more distinct insights. Similarly, while there is no magic number of insights you should have, you want to make sure that you have a number that is manageable to remember.

Find the right level

Check to see that your insights are all big enough to highlight a clear pattern, yet unique. If an insight is too specific, see if you can find a larger pattern that it fits. If an insight is too vague, see if you can tease some apart into more distinct insights. Similarly, while there is no magic number of insights you should have, you want to make sure that you have a number that is manageable to remember.

Track your learnings

As your team journeys through this phase and creates high-level insights from specific data points, there will be times when you don’t remember where that insight or concept came from. While it can be time-consuming, recording your decisions around insights and data points will be helpful in the long-run.

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