I know there is even a name for it (but have forgotten what it is called): Sometimes research findings make so much sense, that everyone afterward says: “Well, that’s no surprise, I could have told you that… why did you have to waste so much time and money to find out something that is just common sense?” Well, maybe not everyone says it but you can see it on the faces of even your more polite listeners. And maybe they are right and you have come up with a finding of the innovative power of “Water is wet.” Or: “Wheels are round.”
But it might also be that you just found out something that makes so much sense that it feels to your audience like they should have known it before… even though they didn’t. There is one very easy way of finding out whether you learned something new or something old when drawing Net-Maps: Do a test run before going to the field. Draw a map of how you guess it would be. Sit down with the whole research team to draw a map. Or do it with your client, if you do this research for someone else. Maybe you can even convince the guy who always says “Well, we knew that before…” to sit with you and draw a map of what he actually does know before.
In most cases you will find out (and your audience will as well) that you/your client/your audience didn’t know beforehand what afterward they thought they did. And while it is great and lends a lot of TATAAA to your research, if you can come up with the unexpected, most of the things you will find out (in any field) are things that make sense and thus, somehow, feel familiar. And, honestly, isn’t it a good thing, if your findings make sense?