A colleague emailed today and asked me this question: “which tool do you use when you have to analyse the content of your harvest with groups?”
My answer was that it depends on so much. Which means there is no one rule or tool but rather a principle. The principle would be this: “Participatory process, participatory harvest, simple process, simple harvest” The primary tool I use in complex decision making domains is diversity.
A story. Once, working with the harvest of a a series of 4 world cafes that had about 100 people in each, I ended up with 400 index cards, each containing a single insight which we later transcribed. It would be folly for me to work with a taxonomy of my own design, so I invited eight people to help me make sense of the work. We all read the 18 peages of raw data and noticed what spoke to us. From there we created a conversation that drew forth those insights and organized them into patterns. The final result was a report to the 400 people that had gathered that was rich and diverse and as complex as the group itself without being overly complicated to implement.
So it depends. If you use the Cynefin framework, which I have been studying and using a lot lately, you will see that different domains of action require different harvesting and sense making tools. So be careful, use what is appropriate and try to never have a place where one point of view dominates the meaning making if you are indeed operating the realms of complexity, chaos or disorder..