Day#356: Synthesis Workshops

Day#356: Synthesis Workshops

Hey Researchers today I wanted to discuss the synthesis workshops and the importance of running them, in general I am a huge advocate of running workshops as they are really helpful towards creating a collaborative environment for everyone involved in the project. Synthesis workshops really help with having all team members up to speed on what has transpired from the research sessions. You can have them after conducting run of the mill usability testing, to even having synthesis sessions when you are more ethnographic heavy work. From what I have noticed this step is sometimes skipped at organisations because of lack of time or resources who are comfortable to run these efficiently. I remember running my first workshop, it is intimidating if you are anything like me that likes planning in advance this is not one of those sessions that you can plan and account for everything. You will plan for the session style and theme perhaps like maybe a brainstorming session or a synthesis session with regards to what we are discussing today. 

So how does it work? 

Well it needs to be very interactive and allow for participants in the session to move parts around, that’s why the most popular are post-it’s. You can have high level findings on each post it and arranged by category. The categories you arrange in should be fluid, and once in session as the researcher you need to encourage the various people involved to partake in reshuffling based on where people see them fitting. 

What exactly is on the post it’s

Here you want to run some synthesis before hand by identifying high level patterns in the research, there are many different ways to run these types of sessions. If you had observers for the sessions you can include them in the original synthesis session before you invite the rest of the team. So for example, I run a usability test on an onboarding experience for a game. The various topics could range from user goals to pains and even using artifacts like empathy maps if relevant. Understanding that all users simply want to create their character for example and not enter in a long arduous form to hand over their personal information may help the team in question slice down their form to a more simpler version. 

How long are these sessions?

Well to be honest these sessions can be rather long if done correctly, they are meant to be sessions where teams learn about behaviours and start to understand them. This helps before hand so that when you are presenting the final playback you are not in a predicament where everything is a surprise. I would say something to master on the topic of time is ensuring that the team don’t go completely off the rails on another topic and that you may take a break after 45 minutes or so to let everyone stretch their legs. 

The artifacts and what next?

At the end of this session you may have a rearranged hot mess of post-its which make sense to only you and the team that have been workshopping. I would say take photos of everything and even during the session. I like to include all the photos in the final playback. Then allow for the team to keep the actual sheets with the post-its if they want to have it up in their area. 

O before I forget just to make sure, tell the team before hand what to expect from this session based on what is needed from them etc. You want them to know it will eb a workshop, I often take some fruit and jugs of water if it’s close by and I know it will be a long session. By being up front about the style of the session you also avoid people assuming that this is the playback. You will want everyone from designers, to product owners to attend if they are available, I’m working on some templates to add online for running workshops. So will share those soon, happy researching until next time!

Bye for now 

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