MxM Week 4 – Synthesis

This post has been backlogged from my MxM Internship Medium account. Check out the original posts here: https://medium.com/@jacktmitchell!

My biggest reflections after week 4 with Made by Many is that I’m struggling to pick on key things and moments to reflect on. I’ve been at work for 4 weeks now, yet the experience so far has just blurred into one huge learning curve. Week 4 consisted of arranging and doing interviews, with both outside participants and friends who have agreed to be interviewed about their experiences within their workplace.

For some odd reason, I find interviewing participants, even close friends, to be a nerve wracking experience. Perhaps it’s the idea that you’re asking strangers quite personal questions about their lifestyle, about who they are and what our project may possibly mean to them. That’s probably why it’s a strange experience interviewing close friends — because even though you know them well, by viewing a situation as mundane as the workplace through their eyes, you gain a deeper insight into the kind of person they are.

I personally was worried that we wouldn’t get enough people to speak to, which could reduce the impact of our insights for further use. It just so happened that come Friday, we had to reject interviewees because of time constraints and the need to begin synthesis. For us, fantastic, for the people we rejected — sorry you didn’t get to spill your hearts out to us! So Friday came and synthesis began. Synthesis is the process of collating all of the data from interviews and searching for themes and common insights and developing design challenges based on the general needs that our helpful users provided.

We pencilled in a 2 hour session. It’s only a few sticky notes after all — we’ll have it all sussed out by 6 o clock, and we’ll come in on Monday and know exactly what kind of challenges we’re facing.

That’s what our naive selves thought. Synthesis, in actual fact, is mind numbing and very time-consuming (at least for the first time it’s done). It is the design equivalent of watching paint dry, and similarly to that task, synthesis also involves staring at a wall in vacant confusion for a few hours.

Joking aside, synthesis is an absolute necessity, and I feel now that I’ve done it once I can do it again in a more streamlined fashion. We rounded the day off by writing out our design challenges, which we will cut down accordingly with Monday’s expert synthesis (another synthesis you say, yes!!!) and then get to the sketching. This is the bit where I as a designer begin to thrive — coming up with ideas and making them look pretty on paper. I can’t wait!

Again, I must thank all of our participants for week 4, I’ll be in touch again shortly to arrange another interview, and this time you simply get to moan about what we’ve done so far — easy right? As for week 5, I think this is going to be a difficult one, but the challenge is, as always, more than welcome.

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