Prototyping helps organisations forward

Many innovative companies can struggle with a ‘meeting culture’ where everyone has a say – it can lead to slow processes with little progress. There is always someone who sees a problem which has to be solved before implementing something; this can be very frustrating and paralyses organisations.

Prototyping can push organisations forward. A prototype is a draft of a product or service that allows you to explore your ideas and demonstrate your intentions to users before investing time and money in development. A prototype can range from a low-fidelity paper drawing to a high-fidelity functioning mockup.

Prototyping can be seen as a surrogate for a future situation, giving you the ability to gain knowledge about the future situation, how the new product or service may be used. It is an effective way of doing, making, and trying, receiving feedback from users, developers, and decision makers in an organisation. Prototyping is a very helpful way to push forward and iteratively improve – the organisation can move again!

As Tom Kelley of IDEO puts it, “prototyping is problem solving. It’s a culture, and a language. You can prototype just about anything — a new product or service, or a special promotion. What counts is moving the ball forward, achieving some part of your goal. Not wasting time.”

Rigorous documentation: A research superpower

When research activities get going in earnest, a lot is produced. If treated too casually, the mass of audio files and transcripts, flip-overs and mini-posters full of post-its, photos, interview notes and feedback mails can quickly turn into a massive hairball that no-one can unpick.

Where do people fit into the Internet of Things?

There are now more things connected to the internet than the number of people in the world. Many of these devices are inside our home, from Bluetooth speakers to smart coffee machines and fridges. In the future, even our plates and curtains might be hooked up to the internet. The house will then resemble a lab, in which we are the studied subjects. How much alcohol do we drink? How often do we wash our hair, or cut our nails? Are we snacking more than usual? Spending longer in front of the mirror? Maybe the homes of the future will know.

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Lead… and let go

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Pushing the Boundaries

The following is an excerpt from our forthcoming publication Viewfinders: Thoughts on Visual Design Research (2016).

Visual design research…