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Synthesize your research


Synthesis is the process of organizing and distilling information to gain a more complete understand of your challenge. You synthesize to analyze your research for insights that inform the development of your solutions!

Effective Ways to do this include:

  1. Use 2+ of the Synthesis techniques to gain insights. Download the summary of the techniques here!
    • Cluster - Organize your information into themes.
    • Maps - Maps help you visualize information in space or time. You can describe how stakeholders move through a space or how stakeholders go through their day/week.
    • Diagrams - Diagrams may visually describe the relationships between different stakeholders, or relationships between important objects in your problem space, or describe cause-and-effect relationships.
    • Matrices - Matrices compare different properties, such as comparing how different stakeholders act or think in different locations. Or comparing ease of use to effectiveness of treatment
  2. Find 4+ insights that can fuel reframe
    • Insights are an understanding about your stakeholder or project topic that is gained through your research. Most insights are surprising or powerful, and are directly applicable to your team’s future solution.
    • Insights can point at qualities your solutions can embody or point your team in certain directions to explore.
    • Your team will need the following to synthesize: Post-it notes, Sharpies, Wall to put Post-it notes on, all your past research, a documenter for the synthesis process.
    • Note: Keep yourself from jumping to solutions so you don't bias the research you have conducted! If you start developing solutions, put them in the "fridge" - a place where you can keep your ideas cool for Ideate!

Network Best Practices

Synthesis techniques to gain insights:

Prepare for synthesis - Immerse 1-pagers
Download the Immerse 1-pager to prepare for your synthesis and make sure your team has the proper research to begin analyzing!

Cluster findings from stakeholder and user research like DFA National

While redesigning the DFA National website, Stacy and Allison interviewed different stakeholders website and wrote down findings. They then color-coded their findings of the stakeholders’ needs and then clustered them to find similarities and common themes. This process was very helpful in creating user personas that were more based on user needs rather than demographics.

Create a journey map to show user's experience like DFA UCLA

DFA UCLA's Family Driving for All Abilities team create this journey map to explain the insight that paraplegic drivers have no way to quickly get gas because they cannot call ahead for gas in the car and many existing options for help are unreliable and inconsistent.

Create diagrams to show find pain points and opportunity spaces like DFA Northwestern

DFA Northwestern’s Luna Lights team used this diagram to look at the relationship between the causes of falling and what leads people to change their habits. The team chose to focus on the ‘resistance to change leading to falls’ loop that they discovered as they moved to reframe and ideate.

Find areas for further research from matrices DFA Northwestern

DFA Northwestern’s Fruit Buddi team used a matrix to sort all their research. They compared what stakeholder their research was looking at vs. what location their research was done at. This helped them identify what areas in their research were worth exploring further.

What synthesis techniques can we use to make meaning of our research?