Effective Reporting

Skill theme: 

Design synthesis, either open-ended (Sensemaking Workshop, Affinity Map, Conceptual Model) or structured (JTBD, Service Blueprint, User Personas, Journey Map), creates rich and nuanced insights that must have a shared understanding within the team to become useful. Evaluative studies (Usability Test, Concept Test, Information Architecture Study) gain their impact when identified opportunities are shared with the right team members and clearly understood.

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The challenge

Encapsulating and communicating new insights and detailing their implications for a project or team is deeply creative work. In any research project, among all of the evidence and meaning uncovered, you must choose a specific set of facts, insights, implications, and interpretations suitable for your audience and appropriate for the circumstances. And you must turn it all into a vehicle for compelling content.

Stakeholders close to the project may be invested, but even those involved may not have the same interpretations. You need to consolidate your new understanding into a story that renders the standard questions—“So what? Why does this matter? What do you want us to do about it?”—unnecessary and displays the value of the work. 
A useful report or presentation will implant key ideas in the audience that change how they interpret the situation. It is hard to get others to change their mind and see the world from the useful new point of view you’ve developed, and many are actively defending their existing point of view.

The approach

Good research and impactful insights won’t move directly from your brain into the organization. Consider the audience, and the venue, and the goal of the message. The goal may be to create new organizational knowledge that reframes the nature of our work, to recommend a new strategic approach, to highlight important product/service findings worthy of action, or to keep a wider audience aware of and engaged in the process of learning. The culture of information in the organization also sets a tone for what's appropriate. 

Therefore, develop and present study findings with due consideration for the goal, audience, and context of delivery. Identify the key outcomes presenting the report should have, and structure a story to convey those ideas. Determine the format of the report/presentation based on stakeholder time, need, and investedness. Consider multiple formats and presentations to instill understanding of complex new ideas. 

Back up any insights to be traceable to source data. Speak with the team and understand ahead of time the difference between what the organization expects and what you’re going to present. You may desire to take action well before any formal reporting to begin addressing a large expectations gap.

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Beyond impact for the specific project, reporting is always an act Research Evangelization. Take care that report timing is best aligned to potential for outcomes with Development Cycle Coupling.

Last updated:
Apr 28, 2020 19:01


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