Week 4: Insights and Ideas

Moving towards insights

As your teams continue to conduct research activities, you may be ready to begin synthesizing your collective findings. One way to do this is to craft "insights" from your research output.

Insights are pivotal in the design process -- they help drive new ideas and ways of seeing a challenge. Insights can be characterized as being:

  • Authentic - Good insights are supported by learnings from real people or situations

  • Not obvious - Insights are not the first thing you would think of and perhaps help connect non-obvious elements in a new or compelling way

  • Revealing - Powerful insights reveal how really people think or feel. They are getting at the “heart” of the issue and not assuming behavior, action, or intent

At the Social Impact Lab, we like to turn insights into "provocations." You can think of provocations as being similar to insights but are often a bit more focused and also actionable -- they literally would provoke you to design a solution.

Provocations are characterized as being
    •   Informing - Provocations shed light on needs and wants based on prior research
    •   Focused - Provocations help highlight a specific aspect or combination of aspects (is neither too broad or narrow)
    •   Provoking - The prompt is actionable and influenceable

Examples of insights that can led to ideas

A couple years ago the OpenIDEO Portland Chapter worked with the Kind Fest in Seattle, Washington to help design an experience of "kindness." This was a pretty broad ask. To learn more, we conducted interviews within the OpenIDEO Portland Chapter community as well as did some research of various organizations and professionals who have studied the phenomenon of kindness (there are a lot of kindness researchers out there!). While kindness seems to be a topic we all should be familiar with, as we did our research, we began to learn more about the nuances. We crafted provocations that reflected what we had learned. We then used these provocations as a starting point for design.

Here are some examples of provocations from that challenge:

  • Expressing kindness may require overcoming kindness paralysis. How might we design an experience of kindness that prompts us to be brave?

  • Kindness has the ability to imprint on us, especially if the act incorporates some elements of risk, sacrifice, or surprise. How might we design an experience of kindness that incorporates risk, sacrifice or surprise?

  • The power of kindness can strengthen human connection. How might we design an experience of kindness that exemplifies connection?

You can begin to see how we can move from this level of insight or provocation to ideas. As your team finishes up research activities, you'll want to work together to craft some insights.

This will help you focus on what design ideas you wish to pursue and refine as a team.

Lab Challenge A: Crafting Provocations

Total time: 1 hr

  • PREP (10 min) - After each research activity, you should have been capturing notes, pictures, or audio of the most interesting things you notice.

    • Review these notes

    • Create a list of memorable ideas, words, phrases, quotes or stories to share with your team

    • Draw or take a picture. If you had to synthesize what you have learned about your topic from your research activities in a picture, without words, what would it be of?

  • ACTIVITY (40 min)

    • Capture individual “data” points on a sticky-note. Use short phrases or draw. (Tip: One idea per sticky)

    • Work as a small group to connect the dotes. "Cluster" the like ideas near each other, and begin to put new names on them

      • Are there ways to draw lines between individual data points or where there themes to your different points? Perhaps you can you find an untold story through the information you’ve collected (especially if you’ve had a chance to gather different points of view). This may be similarities between data points, or it could be differences.

      • Another way to ask this is “What was surprising, confusing, repeated topics throughout the different points of data collection?”

    • Focusing on 4-6 clusters, work in smaller teams to craft statements that are reflective of the collected cluster points

      • If you have a lot of clusters, you may wish to use a simple "voting" exercise to narrow. This can look like everyone getting a set number of "sticky dots" to place on their favorite themes or customers.

  • DEBRIEF (10 min)

    • Work as a team to identify some key insights that will help you focus both your research as well as your design. Edit these so they are authentic, non-obvious, and revealing.

Lab Challenge B: Ideation
Total time: 30 minutes

  • PREP (5 minutes)

    • Choose a select number of insights to address. (You can focus on one or have a few that you're trying to address at one time.)

  • ACTIVITY (15-20 minutes)

    • Write down as many ideas as possible that address the selected provocation(s). Remember that this is a brainstorm -- try not to edit your own ideas at this stage. Be as creative and wild as you can!

      • NOTE: Providing individual time to write down your ideas and asking everyone to share it is a simple way to make sure everyone gets equal chance to share their ideas

    • Post-up ideas where everyone can see. See if there are like "themes" between ideas or ways to connect these nodes of information in a new or interesting way.

    • If you have time, conduct another round of ideation with the newly identified theme as the brainstorming "prompt." This time, the ideas will be way more focused.

  • DEBRIEF (5 min)

    • Decide on what ideas you may wish to refine and develop.

Share your experience with on the Research channel in Slack.