Today, Breaker group was introduced to design research at Smart Design, an innovation consulting firm that is well-known for designing the OXO products and that champions the human-centered approach.
Brandy Fowler, the Associate Director of Insights and Strategy at Smart Design, gave Breaker a Design Research 101 and some nice Twitter-friendly takeaways.
First of all, why has Design Research become increasingly important over recent years? Because it is crucial to business success and addresses the limits to internal brainstorming—user research helps inform what to make and how to make it. We want to start by asking the “why”, before the “what” or “how”, as design is all about people, instead of things, and as we all know, people often make irrational decisions or behave in complex ways. Therefore, understanding the motivation behind those behaviors is crucial. Interestingly, design research has its root in anthropology. Bronisław Malinowski, an anthropologist, pioneered the participant disciplined observation method that provided the foundation to design research. By being as close to the end users as possible and putting ourselves into the shoes of users to empathize with their pain points and need, we would be more able to take into account of all the all touch points while using the product and avoid making products that turn out to be useless and fail when they’re mass-marketed.
For the fifth week of the Breaker Project we were hosted by MTV Scratch for an ‘ideating’ session.
According to their website, “Scratch is a SWAT team that channels the reach, connection and creative force of Viacom in new ways to drive culture and commerce. Through consumer insights, consulting and award-winning creative, Scratch is engaging with our partners to transform industries and activate audiences.”
What does that actually mean? Scratch is part consultancy and part creative agency. They leverage the research, insights, and connection to culture within Viacom to help clients make an impact among their target makret. Our brainstorming session was fantastic, it was led with the framework of ‘yes, and’. Meaning that as we talked about ideas the Scratchers forced us to dig deeper into each thought. This one day enabled us to take our weeks of research and boil them down to the beginnings of several potential firms. The patterns of our research that emerged during this session were: - Our values for this project are not monetary, we seek people to make a time commitment to motivate change - Story is very important to us, and we seek a solution which will capture people’s attention As a Breaker I cannot thank the Scratch team enough for helping us to refine our ideas. I look forward to hearing their feedback at our mid-project presentation next week!
This post is cross listed on the blog of a current Breaker, Sean O’Connor