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Learn How to Tell the Story

Learning Objectives

After completing this unit, you’ll be able to:

  • Explain the best practices for creating a walking deck.
  • Describe the best practices for planning an insights workshop.
  • Explain the best practices for facilitating an insights workshop.

Create a Walking Deck

A walking deck is a short summary of your latest work, no more than 10 slides long, written in a way that both informs and persuades others about your project’s progress. You may present a walking deck in a short meeting, or it may be shared without you, so make sure it contains the key information you want people to know and align on, nothing privileged or private, and contact information for anyone who wants to know more.

At this stage in your project, your walking deck should contain:

  • The design challenge
  • A pinpoint on a process map showing where you are
  • Definition of success
  • People we talked to (with photos)
  • Key insights from research
  • Opportunity areas, including job stories

You may be wondering why we didn’t include research methods here. People are typically less interested in details on the design phases and process, and more interested in the learnings or outcomes. So organize your deck around that information, and create an appendix for process and methodology information if you think you’ll need it.

Your walking deck should be visual whenever possible, and include real quotes, stories, and data points to support your findings. 

Plan an Insights Workshop

Your walking deck also provides the backbone to your insights workshop, which is where you synthesize the raw information you collected during research sessions. But in the workshop, you want your decision makers and stakeholders to engage in discussion, not just absorb information. Remember, a shared sense of empathy and understanding is the foundation of alignment, and you want to set your stakeholders up to align behind your progress. So as you plan your workshop, keep these best practices in mind.

  • Create an agenda that leaves plenty of room for discussion. If you really want people to engage (and you do!), make sure they don’t feel rushed.
  • Bring the research insights to life. Tell stories that make it feel real. Bring video, audio, or photos into the room if possible. Share anything you found particularly surprising, valuable, or interesting in your own authentic voice, and invite your team to share their highlights.
  • Create a set of boards for shared viewing. Your boards should help everyone see the information as a whole, and let them zoom into individual pieces. They may be virtual via FigJam/Miro or analog via foam core, but it’s helpful to make them visually interesting, and make sure that each board has a title with the core idea you're sharing on it. Create boards for key insights, and one for each opportunity area.
  • Set a time and place. If your workshop is in person, make sure the room in which you’re meeting invites engagement. For example, if chairs are in rows, all facing the front of the room, it's a presentation from one person to many; if the chairs are arranged in a circle, or smaller clusters, you’re inviting conversation between participants.

Facilitate Your Insights Workshop

Careful planning sets you up for an inspiring and interesting conversation. Here are our best practices for facilitating an insights workshop.

  • Remember to pause. Pause after sharing insights, and again after sharing each opportunity area, to give your stakeholders an opportunity to process what they’ve just learned. Invite them to share reactions. Just as your project team processed all the learnings from research by hearing and then discussing them, you want your stakeholders to do a scaled down version of that.
  • Ask open-ended questions. Get your stakeholders to engage by prompting them with questions like, “Does anything in what we shared stand out to you as particularly important or controversial?” and “Does this research bring up any questions for you?” When people are both internalizing new information and sharing their perspectives on it, you are leading the group to come to a shared understanding.
  • Listen to your stakeholders. They’ll share their (sometimes unnamed) success criteria while reacting to what you’ve shown. Listen for the mood of the room—whether most people are supporters of the work to date, skeptics, or neutral. And listen for cues on where each individual is on that spectrum.
  • Allow participants to challenge and build on the ideas you’re presenting. Stay curious. Your stakeholders are adding value by sharing their perspectives, since research can't uncover everything.
  • Know what’s next. Aim to leave the workshop with a sense for which opportunity areas are resonating the most with your stakeholders, and which ones are worth pursuing. It's ideal to eliminate all but one in this workshop, but not necessary. Sometimes stakeholders need to see opportunities visualized before they can really evaluate them.

Cloud Kicks Project Team Prioritizes Using Research

Now that Cloud Kicks has a deeper understanding of internal, external, competitive, and analogous audiences from its insights workshop, the team compares their insights and opportunities for design with the original challenge framing, “How might we turn customers into fans amidst supply chain disruption?” With more evidence and confidence about the needs of their users, they narrow the scope of their challenge to: “How might we increase customer patience and satisfaction in the waiting time between order and delivery, especially amidst supply chain disruptions?” This revised framing prioritizes focusing on existing customers, improving customer service, and increasing transparency of supply chain challenges. The clarity of focus also allows for more user-centered, generative, and creative ideating and concepting, setting up the team for success in the next phase of work. 

Wrap Up

Congratulations! You now have an understanding of how design research can align teams and stakeholders on priorities, and you know how to conduct, synthesize, and present research for strategy design. When intentionally executed, research builds empathy by sharing user stories and experiences, which can unite a siloed organization. 

In the next module, Idea Generation, learn how to use the key insights you’ve identified and start thinking about solutions.

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