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Update your evidence base

Set out the evidence that you have gathered in a way that people can quickly understand.

When to do it

Do this after the activity in the chapter, Build on existing evidence and after your initial research phase.

How to do it

You should:

  • review the evidence

  • look for themes or trends in the evidence

  • identify what else you need to know to take a good decision

  • refine your problem statement based on what you find

Try this activity

This activity will help you make sense of evidence that you have gathered. It will develop the themes that are emerging from the evidence and a list of evidence gaps which you might fill.

Time, space and materials

  • 1 hour, but lots of preparation needed

  • a space with a large wall, sticky notes, paper and pens for a face-to-face event

  • or for a remote event use a video conference and online whiteboard that will take the place of the wall and enable participants to add and move online ‘sticky notes’


  • start with the evidence bank that you put together in the chapter, Build on existing evidence

  • add all the new evidence that you have gathered and the analysis of the primary research that you have conducted

  • make the evidence easy to understand. It will be displayed on a wall, so make sure that the font is big enough. Each piece of evidence should be stuck to one A3 piece of paper or use an online whiteboard. Use different colours to highlight the different evidence themes

  • if you are holding a face-to-face event, find a room with enough space for everyone involved in the project to walk around freely and then stick each sheet of evidence to the wall - if you have grouped your evidence into themes use a different wall or part of a wall for each evidence theme so different groups have space to discuss the evidence

People to include

  • your team

  • a researcher or analyst, if you have one

  • any number of people

  • a facilitator to give the instructions


The purpose of this activity is to review the evidence and develop the themes that are emerging.

  1. Divide people into small groups and give them an A3 piece of paper.

  2. Give each group a question about the problem to focus on. Some example questions are:

    • How do people experience the problem?

    • What is causing problem?

    • Who is affected?

    • What future changes could affect this problem?

    • What are other countries or organisations doing?

    • What are people’s views on this problem?

    • What are the opportunities or barriers that people face?

  3. Each group should write their question at the top of their A3 paper. Move around the evidence; spend 10 minutes in each area. Read and discuss the evidence. Write your findings on sticky notes, one finding per sticky note. Stick your notes to your A3 paper.

  4. In your groups, discuss the evidence and what you think this means. Discuss, what other evidence is needed to fully answer your question. Present your findings visually on your A3 paper or the online whiteboard. Get ready to feedback to everyone else.

  5. In turn, each group should present their findings to everyone else.

You now have some analysis of the existing evidence and a list of further evidence to gather.


  • encourage people to present their findings clearly on the paper or the online whiteboard because this is your record of their analysis

  • try asking groups to imagine that they are different users, ask them to pick out the evidence that is relevant to that user and begin to build a user journey

  • if you have limited time and data, do a version where you ask everyone to write down 3 to 5 bits of evidence or known facts, then ask them to group them by theme -  this will give you a sense of where people think evidence is, or should be

Next steps

  • update your research plan if you need to find more evidence

  • set out what you know about the people that will use your policy or service in the form of needs by using the activity in the chapter: convert user need into impact

  • map out what you know about the flows of decisions, money, data

  • review the features of previous policies and services in your problem space using the activity in the chapter: know features from the past

Further reading

Find out more about this topic by searching the internet for:

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