Using découpé to find the story in the data

Photo of cut out techniqueDécoupé, or to give it its anglicised name ‘cut up technique’ is a creativity device that dates back to at least the 1920s, but was popularised in the 1950s by William Burroughs (the beat writer and artist). More recently pop stars such as David Bowie have made it famous as a device for creating the narrative of songs.

The cut up technique can be a great way to find the story in the data when analysing market research information, particularly for teams trying to transition from traditional reporting approaches to a more narrative style. Here is one example of how to make this transition:

  1. Create a standard market research report, reporting the key questions, using the key breaks, addressing the key topics in the research brief.
  2. For each output (which often means a PowerPoint slide if the analysis has been delegated or automate), write a comment about what the main message on the page is.
  3. Put each comment onto a separate piece of card or paper (making a note of which slide number each comment links to).
  4. Now shuffle the cards and then on your own or as a team, try to arrange the cards in a way that creates a narrative.
  5. Cards the say roughly the same thing can be place partly on top of each other.
  6. Cards that link to a theme should be placed close to each other (think about the verses of a song when you do this).
  7.  If you have cards that stand on their own, decide whether:
    a) They are not really part of the overall story.
    b) They require more elements to be found to complete the story – this usually means more analysis, perhaps looking more than one or two questions at a time to find the links.

Once you have your cards into a structure, you should be able to summarise the story for the executive summary, and I would suggest you re-order your presentation so that it follows the story you have created. All of the cards that are not really part of the story should have their slides/data relegated to the appendix, a separate document, or brought b

ack to life when answering a different question.

Hot tip, Artefact Cards
I am a big fan of using Artefact Cards and Sharpies for this sort of cut out technique. The cards are playing card sized, come in several colours (please write on the coloured side – put the location of the data or slide on the white side), and are high quality. I find that the design (especially the quality) makes people take the group task more seriously. Find out more about Artefact Cards by clicking here (no, I am not getting commission – they are just really good).

More about Finding The Story In the Data
I am running a series on webinars on this topic with NewMR. Check out the slides and recordings of last year’s presentations, and this year’s webinars, and register for the final webinar of 2017 on 9th November.