We’re still a bit in awe of our own chutzpah at attempting to both provide a rationale for, and a quick introduction to, user research for innovation projects. In one chapter. Entire books and careers have been spent on this topic! On the other hand, the general principle—observe!—is simple enough, and we think that if you can get your mind around that, maybe it doesn’t take much guidance to get you going. Our approach here was to explain why, provide a little how, and point interested readers to other resources.
We believe passionately that empathetic observation is critical to understanding people’s motivations, and thus to effective innovation. This isn’t to exclude other kinds of research, though. We’ve identified other types of research below we’d also like to address.
What seems to be working
- The Innovation Gap is a fundamental insight from the IIT Institute of Design, and we see it reflected in much of our work with clients over the last half-decade.
- POEMS as an observational framework is still generally applicable—and perhaps just as important, it’s memorable, and easy to use on-the-fly, by everyone on a team.
Areas that need more work or input
- We’re not sure the Needs Map is adding a lot of value. What do you think?
- In the next edition, we are planning on grouping user insight on three levels: Macro trends: desk research, trying to answer questions about what will happen in the general population over time, Human scale: contextual research, and making meaning of both macro trends and micro-analytics, Micro-behavioral: digital analytics, which show what is actually happening
- Also, yikes: we don’t mention social networks. Granted, they didn’t have nearly as big a presence in 2007 as they do now, but there you go. If you blink, you miss it. We’ll definitely have to cover research and co-creation through social networks.
- We will update the resources section here to include some of the great work done in recent years. We’re happy to hear what books/articles/videos have been useful for you.
- Finally, the “Seinfeld” opening seems a bit dated now. We should put something else there. (We’re open to suggestions.)