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The experience of using Ketso for research in Ghana

Anna Wanetschek, now working at Welthungerhilfe (originally the German section of the ‘Freedom from Hunger Campaign’), conducted research for her Masters dissertation at The University of Manchester using Ketso. She used the kit for interviews and a group-discussion with development practitioners in Ghana. Her hope was the visualisation would improve the flow and interactivity of the conversations. Here’s what happened.

Anna conducted five interviews and one group discussion with development practitioners in Ghana, using both the mini Ketso felts for small group work and the larger felts for larger groups. Her topic was: Beneficiary participation in the different stages of the project cycle. An analysis of practitioners’ practice and experience using the case study of Ghana.

Organising with Ketso

Here’s how Ketso was laid out:

  • A cycle with the project stages identification, design, implementation and evaluation placed in the middle of the felt.
  • One branch for each of the project stages.
  • One branch for general notes.
  •  A set meaning for the four leaf colours

The method was explained to the interviewees at the beginning of the interview. During each interview a Ketso workspace was then filled with leaves of different colours, summarising the interviewee`s experiences and ideas regarding the different topics.

For one interview the approach was adapted slightly, as the interviewee worked for the same organisation as another person who had been interviewed before. Here, the Ketso workspace of the first interviewee was presented to his colleague to test if experience and perspectives on participation vary within the same organisation. Additional aspects were added on leaves marked specifically in order to differentiate the two interviewees’ ideas. This allowed a fuller picture of (perceived) beneficiary participation in that organisation.

“In comparison to other mind-mapping tools I found Ketso more visually appealing, flexible and easier to use.”

The benefits of Ketso

Everyone was included, more motivated and discussions emerged as everyone presented their ideas.

  • Focus & Process

Ketso created focus for the research on the central questions and it structured the process of the interviews.

  • Flexible Discussion Without Losing Track

At a glance it was possible to keep track of what topics were covered already. This allowed flexible and natural jumping between the topics during the conversation without forgetting important questions. It was not necessary to check the interview guidelines or take notes. All this made the conversation more relaxed and natural but also highly focused.

  • Visible to All

The visualisation pleased and motivated the interviewees, who saw their ideas transparently mapped out.

  • Summarising and Probing Understanding

It helped to check the understanding of their ideas e.g. by asking: “Did I summarise your idea correctly by writing xyz on the leaf” In cases of misunderstandings, changes or adding, leaves were also rewritten or rearranged during the interview, a definitive advantage of the flexible nature of Ketso.

  • Easy Overview

The quick overview, visible to the interviewer as well as the interviewee allowed talk about the big picture at the end of the interview using the Ketso-workspace as the common reference point e.g. asking “We see less brown leaves for participation in identification and design than in the implementation and evaluation stage? What is the main reason for this?”

The quick and visualised overview was also very useful for the first step of analysis and the presentation of the data, e.g. it was visible directly that in all pictures there are less leaves in the identification and design phase. The easy-to-use spreadsheet that is provided by Ketso here was very useful to organise the data on the leaves. It helped analysis by instantly giving quantified information about the data e.g. the distribution of leaves around the branches.

Other observations when using Ketso

Analysing Ketso data by the beach

Anna did notice it took time explaining how to use the tool for the first time. She would also consider using a big felt for longer interviews and it was noted as important to ensure the host and the participants write legibly.

Her advice was to insert the leaves in the provided excel sheet directly after the interview or group-discussion as it gets harder later, in case you forget what exactly was meant or can’t read it anymore.

Additionally, if possible, have enough material so you do not have to reuse the felts and leaves for each new session. This allows you to compare them visually, which was better than only having the photographs. It was found useful to have an audio-file too, which gave the detailed information about ideas summarised on the leaves.

Overall conclusion 

Anna reported that Ketso: “was helpful for both group discussions and one-to-one interviews as it structures and visualises the interview itself, as well as the research questions and analysis. In comparison to other mind-mapping tools, I found Ketso more visually appealing, flexible and easier to use, especially for people like me who otherwise find it hard to map out ideas in a structured and pleasant looking way. I also like that it is environmentally friendly. I will definitely use it again for research, group work or mapping of my own ideas.”

If you have any questions about Anna’s experience with Ketso or are interested in the results of the research, please send an e-mail direct to: anna.wanetschek [at] or get in touch via LinkedIn.

See our range of Ketso kits for different group sizes here.

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