How packing for fieldwork made me unpack my biases
There’s a good reason for the saying to ‘check your biases at the door’ – carrying assumptions and your own worldview into any situation will influence the way you experience it, even how you behave. But these viewpoints can work in our favour, too.
It’s a masterpiece of over-simplicity and an idealised vision of the human centred design process, but now there’s proof this blueprint for breakthroughs is a long way from reality… At least in New Zealand. (But we’re probably not alone)
Yes, I’m talking about the well-accepted Double Diamond model with its four stages of discover, define, develop and deliver.
It rolls off the tongue nicely, but what follows is a sobering view of how lop-sided it may be…
There was a time I was comfortable being the expert.
I was asked to do an ‘expert’ experience review recently. Ever since it’s been playing on my mind – surfacing internal conflicts and self-doubt around how comfortable I am taking the role of ‘expert’ in this field.
It’s a feeling that’s changed with time, so I mapped it.
(For the back-story, read Pizzle Part 1)
As I stepped through the door with a “Ni hao”, I watched all my norms float out – the way I came in.
When I say norms, I mean the usual ingredients of a successful field visit.
In my world, in-home visits always start with (and rely on) a crucial few minutes of rapport building. And there are usually just two of us visiting the customer.
Yes, it’s a two-parter. Here’s the main course.
I’d heard of nose-to-tail eating, but apparently there are parts of certain animals which do more than provide nourishment…
Yep. I’m talking about Pizzle. (Deer dick – ick!)
One of the great benefits of operating from New Zealand comes in the shape of exposure to the diverse range of niche products we export.
So when a large-scale deer farmer and venison exporter came knocking, I jumped…
…but this time higher than usual.
There are user research projects where the exact objectives fade over time.
…but certain moments, and the people leave lingering bright spots, ripe to be shared.
I’m talking about those design research projects, where you meet people you could never have imagined, or entered into a person’s life so unfamiliar to you …
These experiences leave a dent – especially when people open up, sharing deep or private stories. Stories that stick, or are even hard-to-shake,
Like one of ‘those’ jokes, design research has the most impact to those who were there in the moment.
In this video – from a presentation hosted at eBay Design in San Francisco – I explain how I try to help client teams discover their own punchline from user research, by designing experiences for them rather than delivering findings to them.
As the business and design worlds adopt design research, I see patterns.
One of those patterns lies in the questions I’m asked by new clients.
Sometimes they are new to qualitative research, and increasingly they’ve done some lightweight interviewing as part of an innovation or design thinking exercise and want to know more.
My confidence in answering these questions builds over time, so to hear a design research veteran tackle the same questions … that’s gold.
I’m currently ‘recovering’ from an intense project – interviewing criminals for a week.
…A project during which a relative I was staying with questioned whether I was cut out for my job…