Most organizations are sitting on a goldmine of information — for example, quantitative and qualitative marketing research reports, secondary research, and ad hoc data analysis — but they may not be making the best use of it. There are many situations when analyzing the data you already have can deliver fresh perspectives and important insights, such as when changing product marketing strategy, entering a new market, or re-positioning a brand. Organizations need to pull all that information together and analyze it as a whole to develop the overriding — and sometimes hidden — insights answering a new question. This is a process called synthesis.
What is Synthesis?
Synthesis is often viewed as a collection of information from various sources. And to some degree, this is true. However, gathering the information into a single source is just part of the process, NOT the end result. Synthesis is analysis, not collection. It is relatively easy to collect information. However, it takes time, creativity, and strategic thinking to analyze the data. And that is the first and most important consideration when approaching synthesis: how should you analyze the information?
There are a few types of synthesis or approaches to synthesis, used for different purposes:
Explanatory Synthesis helps readers understand a topic but does not argue a specific point. It presents information in a helpful and logical way, organized by topic.
Argumentative Synthesis presents your point of view, supported by relevant facts presented logically to foster debate.
Filtered Synthesis applies a new lens or perspective to old information. It can challenge current/long-held beliefs, and it helps information live outside the existing paradigm.
In short, a synthesis is a written discussion that draws on one or more sources and requires the writer to identify themes and infer relationships across sources. When we do this with Insights 4.0, we gather and read information, identify the relevant details, put the clues together and determine what it means, and then we produce a deliverable that:
Brings order and structure to a deep and vast reservoir of knowledge.
Stretches the researcher to think differently, to rethink old ideas, and generate new ones.
Creates a manageable way for others to access knowledge, information, and insights.
Takes the existing and makes it new again with deep human insights.
It Takes a Village
The optimal situation for synthesis is when it involves a team of people. Choosing whom to involve in the synthesis process is critical to make sure you have a holistic perspective on the project. You will want to include individuals in different job functions to have access to all relevant information assets and the perspectives of everyone who can contribute to the process and the analysis. Your synthesis team will also be elemental in disseminating and applying the new insights appropriately throughout your organization.
When your synthesis is complete, you will be in a very different place than where you started — providing a fresh perspective to existing information, shaking up preconceived notions, and bringing a new voice to business strategy. Synthesis can be a lot of hard and creative work, but it can also uncover exciting innovative approaches for your business.
Interested in getting more out of your existing data?
Watch for our next blog about synthesis to explore when it makes sense — and how to determine if it is right for you!