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Cruising the problem area

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45-60 minutes / non-specified as it can last up to a few days or be ongoing

  • Desktop/PC/Laptop/notebook

  • Internet access

  • Different sources of media, including newspapers, social media

  • Journal

  • Pens

  • Camera/phone

  • Whiteboard

  • Sticky notes

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What is this tool and what is its purpose and benefit?


The media-trend and desk research tool is used for investigating a particular challenge or topic to find the root problem to tackle at the research phase. It gives an overview of the current and past situations, trends, opportunities, challenges, and other issues linked to the challenge area, and also what has worked or has not. Media-trend and desk research can also be an ongoing process to monitor what is going on in the society and sector to find new business ideas and to prepare for changes.

Steps how to use this tool in practice


The same steps apply when working individually, in pairs or in a group. Tasks can be divided when using it in pairs or a group.


Start investigating the selected challenge area using online and printed media, literature, social media and other sources, such as shops, selecting the most suitable sources for the case. Investigate what is out there, and what is said and written about the challenge to find out more about it, identify current and future trends, challenges, opportunities, and what seems to have worked and what not in the challenge area. Take written and visual notes of your findings.


Once saturated with information, start looking for patterns in your findings. These provide a general overview of the phenomenon and reveal categories.


Start categorising the data and patterns into groups you identify including previous, current situations and solutions, future trends, challenges, opportunities, and what seems to work and what does not seem to work to provide yourself with information about the challenge. Add any other categories that you may find useful. Use a categorising method that suits you and your purpose, for instance writing each arising issue on a sticky note, so identified issues can be grouped and moved from one group to another.


Identify and summarise the most relevant issues for each category. This helps you to identify the underlying problem to tackle, and what already works for the challenge and what does not work. 

Tips and hints for using this tool

  • Make sure to use reliable authentic internet sources for your research.

  • You can also look at customer reviews on a competitor’s services/products.

  • Tools for studying trends for social media include Google Trends and Hootsuite. Social media platforms, such as Facebook, generally have tools you can use for analysing trends on their platforms.

Other tools of this phase

Set the intention, the goal, for the work.

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Experience the service first-hand.

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A visual map of the customer’s journey.

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A visual overview diagram of opportunities.

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Listening to existing customers and analysing this feedback.

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A design brief presents a snapshot overview of vital aspects of a project.

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