Insights & POVs... what are they, how do we get them?

Been struggling with my team mate to come up with a section for a course … we’re stuck at the sense-making process and how to teach (coach? guide?) participants to see/generate/refine insights and frame problems and point of view statements?

Driving us nuts to try to put some framework around something so intuitive. Anyone got suggestions? Thank you!


I hear you! Design synthesis is haaaaard. Is this course for complete beginners? Or people who are familiar and/or done projects in design thinking?

A mixture but mostly beginners but at Director & Manager levels. 2 day long. We would like to ‘gift’ them a few key tools so they can begin to apply design thinking concepts & tools in their day to day work. So far we are focussing on Journey Mapping as the main tool but we still lack a good tool/activity to help with the insights/reframing phase…

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For beginners, I’ll go with just 1 or 2 of the most easy tools to pick up - the empathy map and journey map are good ones for beginners.

But these tools would be a lot less effective if they didn’t know how to discuss/facilitate the discussion themselves. So usually I also throw in the usual “how to cluster and find themes” explanation, as well as 5 Whys method. Mindtools have a good explanation and video of 5 Whys. I’m always surprised how people (perhaps in their eagerness and pragmatism towards solutioning) tend to jump to straight to solutions based on what the user said on the ‘surface’, when it’s actually more helpful to discuss and probe deeper using the 5 Whys to get at latent, unarticulated needs.

Collected a whole bunch of tools for design synthesis here:

Does this make sense?

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I think before you can put a framework on it or try on different frames and techniques to “produce insights”, it’s important to first understand what they actually are. As you’ve shared, it’s all the more difficult if it lives in the realm of the intuitive.

Don’t have answers but would love to explore more!

I’ve found some useful perspectives in these articles below but they are also no fully expressive of my own understanding.

What’s your take?


Oh I love this article. Thanks for sharing @KhaiSeng. I’d came across very few well-written articles that explores in depth what insight is, what synthesis meant to produce. Especially like this part:

“When I teach this I actually get people to build their own kaleidoscopes to show how it works. There is the interplay of the eyepiece (the marketer) and the customer (as the beads) with the researcher playing a key role by using the mirrors to filter out the beads (for amplifying the sample). If you buy that analogy, the point is that insights don’t come from insighters; we’re the mirror not the lens. It works when everyone works together, when they interact. And you need to know as much about the client’s mindset as the customer’s.”

That resonated immediately because that’s what I always try to do intuitively with my clients. Getting to the deep why of the user is not enough. When talking about the user need, a FAQ the client always asks back is, “Hmmm ok interesting. But so what? What does this mean to me/my organisation?” An insight is only insightful if it’s relevant to the business objectives/process in some way. So over time, that became a repertoire in my synthesis process - asking the “So what?” question during synthesis, to get towards making an insight actually useful for the client, instead of just some deep understanding of why their users are behaving in a certain way.

Is that something you guys do too @leon @KhaiSeng ?