Creating Insights From Data

Imagine you’re working through the design thinking process...

You’ve conducted interviews with people to build empathy & understanding of the topic you’re focusing on, and now you have pages and pages of interview notes. Your task is to make sense of them, but you’re overwhelmed and not sure where to start.

One of the most challenging parts of collecting data to understand a problem better is the synthesis: organizing all these ideas, opinions, and perspectives into something that makes sense. You may be staring at pages of interview notes, wondering "How in the world can I make something meaningful out of ALL of this information?"

Here are four easy steps to create insights from your data:
  1. Review your interviews so you have a fresh perspective on what you’ve heard. Consider relaying the information in your own words to someone who isn’t directly involved; what themes have stood out to you just from your own listening?
  2. Copy the content from your interviews onto sticky notes, sorting them into problems, observations, opportunities, and quotes. Try using different coloured sticky notes for each category.
  3. Then, group your sticky notes into themes – patterns that show the sticky notes have something in common. Label these groupings with the overarching theme.
  4. Rephrase these themes into insights: short statements that give us new information about the topic we’re exploring.
Participants in The Brooks Design Lab evaluate their data, grouped into themes.
Insight statements:
  • Are actionable (i.e., they tell us something we can do - “Residents are in need of more reliable and accessible transportation to participate in the community”).
  • Are informed by the data we’ve collected (not assumptions).
  • Tell us something new (e.g., “Residents want to maintain the small town feel of Brooks” instead of “Brooks has a lot of residents”).
  • Help people understand WHY something is happening (e.g. “Residents in Brooks feel ____ because…”).

Last week in The Brooks Design lab, we sorted our data from community interviews that our participants conducted into themes, and then wrote insights from these themes. We are excited to organize and reflect on these insights at our next session on July 11 and can’t wait to share them with the community. Want to learn more about The Brooks Design Lab? Click here.

“I think this project will bring tangible changes in the way we serve our community, will strengthen collaboration between different actors, and will help bring cross sector collaboration for the benefit of our community.”
       -The Brooks Design Lab Participant