What's the use of data without pictures or conversations?

A one-day workshop that shows NHS information analysts how to acquire, analyse and re-present drawings of the health and social care world.

Anaximapping the Acute Medicine front door. © Ellie Morag Photography. All Rights Reserved.

Anaximaps is aimed at information analysts who want to learn how to adopt an innovative and creative mapping technique and apply it to the business of identifying the right data to analyse, thus facilitating more effective decision-making.

By the end of the course participants will understand the intellectual background to mapping as a research tool, they will understand the process within which Anaximaps fits, they will know how to persuade managers and clinicians to create drawings and sketches of the processes and systems within which they work, they will know how to analyse these maps and how to reflect them back to the people who drew them, and they will know how to populate the maps with data so that new and better understandings of processes and systems will result.

There is a small amount of hands-on number-crunching in Excel in this course. However, participants will be mainly using Microsoft PowerPoint and "analogue" methods (Sharpies and coloured post-it notes).

Session 1 / Anaximapping

1.1 Infosynthesis and Anaxitopia
The course starts by setting out the "intellectual" background. Anaximaps fits into three distinct stages of the Infosynthesis cycle, and we also learn a bit about ethnography in urban architecture before we start on our journey.

1.2 Document the information-reporting status quo
Anaximaps is a transformative tool, so before we apply it, we need to know what it is that we're transforming, and what it looks like. So we have to set out how our processes and systems are currently measured and described using data.

1.3 Facilitating a mapping session
This section is a walk-through of the tools and techniques you need in order to persuade managers and clinicians to draw maps for you, what you need to say to them in advance of the mapping session, what to say to them during the session, and what "equipment" you'll need for a successful mapping session.

1.4 Documenting the mapping session
You need to document the mapping process. In particular you need to cappture as much as possible of the dialogue that is spoken while the maps are being drawn. If you can also capture still images and video, so much the better. In this session we show you how to capture this documentary material.

Session 2 / Anaxinalysis

2.1 Design Synthesis
Another short section of theoretical underpinning, this time focusing on what Jon Kolko has to say about design synthesis and "abductive sensemaking".

2.2 Identify the recurring themes
In most Anaximaps projects you will be gathering several maps of the same process drawn from different viewpoints. You need to be able to detect recurring patterns and themes in these multiple images.

2.3 Identify the three main elements
We learnt about the analysis techniques that urban architecture applies to city maps in section 1.1. Now it's time to adapt their method to maps of the health and social care system. In this section we cover how to place tracing paper (real and metaphorical) over your anaximaps to identify the main system and process elements.

2.4 Anaxinalysis case studies
The final section of Session 2 is devoted to a look at several case studies of how maps have been analysed, and what we can do with these maps once we've identified the key elements.

Session 3 / Reflecting back your anaximaps

3.1 Use PowerPoint to simplify the sketches
This section of the course shows how to take the individual hand-drawn sketches and translate them into more 'standardised', more 'generic' shapes and lines. PowerPoint works well for this.

3.2 How to re-present simplified and synthesised maps
A key part of the Anaximaps process is that you have to take your analysed, synthesised, simplified map back to the person who drew it and re-present it in a way that enables and encourages tweaking and/or re-drafting.

3.3 Anaxidata: start populating your map with numbers
This is the stage in the Anaximaps process where we append quantities and data to the shapes, arrows and lines.

3.4 Identify data priorities from the sketches
By comparing the analysed anaximap with the status quo of existing information-reporting (we covered this in section 1.2), we can re-cast the way we use data to describe and reprsent the manager's or clinician's world. It's important that we can recognise the elements that were prioritised in the drawing so that we can give commensurate weight to the data that describes or measures that element.

Session 4 / AnaxiTransformation

4.1 Data sources and data parameters
Part of the conversation that took place during the drawing will have touched on the question of where data can be sourced from, and what exclusions might be necessary for the data to give a reasonable picture of reality. We need to refer to these in order to refine the say we populate the drawing with numbers.

4.2 Spatial maps and temporal maps
One of the things that Anaximaps enables is the juxtaposition of patient journeys superimposed over geographical/architectural maps. In this section of the workshop we provide examples and case studies of how this has been done.

4.3 Anaxi-outputs
What does a finished anaximap look like? In this section we discuss the various ways (for example, reports, presentations, events, exhibitions) in which an Anaximaps project can be brought to completion.

Anaximapping the Acute Medicine front door. © Ellie Morag Photography. All Rights Reserved.

Once or twice she had peeped at the computer screens of data her sister was looking at, but the screens had no pictures or conversations in them, "and what is the use of data," thought Alice, "without pictures or conversations?"

Anaximaps is a process that helps data analysts see inside the minds of healthcare managers and clinicians. By using pictures and conversations, Anaximaps generates data that is accurate, meaningful and useful.

Anaximaps starts with a conversation between a number-cruncher and a healthcare professional, and—as part of that conversation—a map gets drawn, a sketch on a sketchpad that becomes a physical artefact the analyst takes away with them.

Back at their desk, the analyst applies a set of analysis tools (borrowed from urban architecture) to the sketched map. These tools provide direction and purpose to the way the data is analysed and presented.

The revamped data is then fed back to the healthcare professional and the dialogue can then continue and develop.

It's a simple idea. And it's an audacious idea. The notion that we can "solve" the data element of our decision-making process using a method that involves sketch pads, felt tip pens and a video camera—that's an idea that's alien to most health and social care managers, never mind data analysts. But we think this method works, and whenever we've tried it in a real life setting, we've had positive feedback from the people we've worked with.

If you want to book a place at an open course, please first check the course calendar for available dates and prices, and then email to book a place. If you can't see any scheduled dates, email me anyway and we can try to set one up on a date that works for you.

Anaximaps can also be booked as an on-site workshop for £1,250+VAT, and up to 12 participants can be accommodated in each workshop session. Email to start making arrangements.

A degree of familiarity with Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Word and Microsoft PowerPoint is helpful for this training course.