The research phase, if run well, will produce a lot of raw data. The next phase involves consolidating the findings, making sense and synthesising the insights. Deep and insightful  analysis can be done through the development of Personas and service journey maps.

Understanding the research findings

The 'Listening to Families' research findings

From the field work, we brought back quite a lot of raw data coming from several interviews that needed to be visualised, analysed and summarized in order to generate the insights. For the visualisation of the citizens' experiences - in other words, to tell the visual 'narratives', we began to create a Service Journey Map for each citizen describing the interactions of the citizen with the service system. We developed several prototypes of journey maps focusing on different aspects of the citizen's story until we realised that a journey map is simply not enough in order to tell the whole 'narrative' of a citizen. In the end, we decided to add a deeper description of the citizen, called a Persona. Through both tools, we were able to tell the whole story of a citizen in a deep as well as illustrative way which eventually made it easier for us to generate insights.


Personas in this project contain information about each citizen that was interviewed during the research phase. The information describes not only demographic information like gender, age, children, It also digs into parts of the citizens' experience with the service system by providing their feelings, beliefs and behaviours while interacting with the system. Personas gives you the opportunity to see the service system and especially the interaction with it from the citizens' point of view

Service Journey Maps

The Service Journey Map for a citizen describes the interaction between the citizen and the service system from the service system's point of view. The key concept for the journey maps in this project is to use key events in the citizen's life as a trigger for an engagement of any service provider - so called service triggers. Starting from those service triggers, the pathway of the citizen is drawn visualising how he/she navigated through the service system, what support he/she got and what barriers he/she faced.

Personas and Service Journey Maps Personas and Service Journey Maps [PDF 906KB]

Synthesised insights

An important output of this phase in the project was the overall insights of the service system, the citizens' experience and how they interact with each other. In order to generate those insights we made use of the collected data, tools like Personas and Service Journey maps and weekly reflection sessions. For instance, in one reflection session we analysed the journey maps of several citizens in a deep way in order to extract the insights from them.

After collecting, grouping and prioritizing all the insights, we ended up with almost 30 insights. The following list shows eight of the main insights:

  • Families with complex needs do not feel understood by the system

    While in a fragile state and reliant on support from the system, families often feel that their situationis not understood and not taken seriously which, causes them to disengage or become angry.Consequently, the family may be considered to be 'service resistant' or have hostile attitudes toservices.
  • Cases are evaluated on individual criteria rather than on the whole family or thewhole problem

    Individual-oriented, single-problem-focused services mean that only one family member or oneproblem is addressed. This means that other family members are not helped or other contributingissues are not dealt with. Families frequently experience having their cases closed before theyfeel that their problems are solved. Poor outcomes for the family as a whole increase the pooroutcomes for individual members of the family.
  • Service resistance is a matter of maintaining dignity and self-reliance

    Families who are perceived to 'resist' involvement with services are mostly driven by anindividual, social or cultural need to make it on their own, or wish to keep the severity of theirsituation unexposed. In order to be self-reliant, families require services to share ownership oftheir problems in an interactive way in order to improve their situation.
  • System is reactive and crisis-driven

  • Multiple layers of coordination within the system, but few people with authorityto make decisions

    Families experience a lack of flexibility in eligibility requirements, they are told that they cannotbe helped or they never hear back from government services. This is a result of frontline workershaving no authority to make decisions based on the situation of the family and cases are notassessed on an individual basis.
  • Positive process with service system depends on random factors

    Some families interact with services over long periods of time without experiencing anyimprovement in their situation. Many families only hear about services from friends or family.Often, their situation can be quite severe without being noticed or asked about their situation,despite interacting with public services, including health providers and schools.

Understanding the research findings

Why is this phase important?

The maps can help to identify where the experience is a good one and where the experiencebreaks down. Well-crafted maps can help significantly with the understanding of the currentstate. The collective maps can identify insights and opportunities for improvement.

What is involved?

Service Journey Maps

A visual representation of a citizen's experience of the service system


A more detailed description of the citizen and their story


Are understandings derived from the research phase, and the analysis and synthesis of research data

How do we make sense of what we hear?

The raw research notes and recordings are used to create a rough draft map of the citizens story. As this is done,the fundamental elements that need to be represented on the map become apparent. This may include elements such as keylife events/service triggers, service interactions and what the citizen believed or understood about the interactions.As more and more of the journeys are mapped, these are refined.

How do we develop personas?

It is not possible to represent the depth and breadth of a citizenÆs story on a service journey map alone. For this reason,Personas are used to complement the maps and tell the story in more depth. It is crucial that their stories are told fromtheir perspective. For this reason, each Persona should describe:

  • What is important to the citizen?
  • What is their view/understanding of what has happened?
  • Who has been part of their journey?
  • What worked or didn't work for them in their interactions with the service system?
  • How did interactions make them feel?

How do we develop service journey maps?

The purpose of the service journey maps is to represent the interaction of citizens with the service system. The mapsare not designed to represent the whole story of the citizen, rather they show what triggered their interaction, whenand why they were referred to another organisation, what services were provided to them, and whether the service interactioncontinued, stopped due to a barrier or came to a natural conclusion. Multiple prototyping is required to reach a solutionthat represents the service experience. Decisions must be made about what must be shown on the map and what can becommunicated through the persona. This is a process that is done with great consideration and a commitment to remainingfaithful to the story of the citizen.

How do we synthesise insights?

A central point in making sense of co-design research is to look at each story from a qualitative perspective. This notonly emphasises the value in focusing on the concrete experiences and actions of people, but also appreciates each storyas unique and valuable to learn from. As service triggers, referrals, service interactions and service barriers are identified, patterns begin to emerge. Aspatterns emerge, so do insights into what is and isn't working within the system. These are also built on, critiqued andrefined as the research continues. Through the collaborative research and reflection process, some insights usually emergewhich cut across the unique experiences and journeys.