Design research offers organisations an experimental, open approach to strategy development. A pilot project is an effective way to start figuring out what an innovation program might contain and which methods and approaches are most suitable. Especially at the very beginning of an innovation process, pilot projects can help organisations decide what part of the wider field to focus on, so they can begin building a solid and strategic innovation plan.
Exploratory design research
Open exploration of people’s everyday experiences can often be the first step in a strategic shift away from an organisation’s established patterns of response to needs from existing customers. This can lead to a shift from a mindset of merely catering for customers, to more pro-actively liaising with new and empowered ‘prosumers’ in a complex service ecology. Exploratory design research can help organisations uncover new services and products that are hiding in plain sight among their customers, ready to be developed. The objective is to sensitise the organisation to this way of working so that it becomes a fundamental best practice.
Strategic scoping studies
Strategy development for innovation often focuses on a time frame of 2 to 5 years. However, it is possible to broaden this scope considerably, by looking at both the past and immediate future and identifying larger trends and developments in society, technology, politics and other areas affecting organisations. A scoping study is a co-creative examination of an organisation’s current situation placed in this broader context, so that participants develop a more accurate understanding of what the next five to ten years will bring. This helps you to ensure that the customer perspective is embedded in innovation strategy.
Desk research and research synthesis
Nowadays there is rarely a shortage of data when dealing with strategic design innovation. It is making sense of the most relevant data that really counts. Our clients often have several existing reports that could be used as input for further exploratory investigation. We identify and summarise the relevant patterns and trends from these, and we also enhance this synthesis with further desk research to create an informed starting point for future interventions and strategic research questions. This offers new perspectives and enables your organisation to better understand how to use the data as a foundation for innovation, i.e., to understand what kind of interventions could be most productive.
In collaboration with Radarstation, STBY conducted strategic pilot study for Sony, exploring opportunities for new service concepts beyond their traditional market. The client team from the Sony Design Center in Tokyo was keen to ascertain how exploratory design research in the early stages of a service design process can guide the identification of user needs and idea generation for new, innovative service concepts.
How can people in the U.S. be better supported in living a sustainable lifestyle? That’s the question STBY was asked to investigate during a pilot project with the Reach Network commissioned by Panasonic. Any company developing products for the ‘Eco Aware’ has to gain an understanding of the lifestyles such consumers maintain and aspire to. Ideas for new products and services cab be developed and validated on the basis of that foundational research.
Finding global common ground in telecoms
Do different people in different cultures have the same conversations? That was the focus of an extensive international pilot project conducted for a multinational telecoms firm. Working with our Chinese and Spanish partners from the Reach Network, we designed an exploratory study that analysed and visalised how the cultures people live in can influence the type of language they use.
A strategic goal of the Dutch Ministry of Public Health is for 75 percent of patients with chronic diseases to use self-measurement technologies as part of their everyday lives. To better understand the needs and preferences of these patients we conducted in-depth interviews with lead users who use wearable devices. We explored how they manage their health, the roles played by self-measurement technology, and also the support from other tools and people, including healthcare professionals.
For the international academic publisher Elsevier we conducted a lead user research and organised a series of innovation workshops. The lead user research in both the UK and The Netherlands generated insights into unmet needs and potential areas for service innovation. These insights were further explored in co-creative workshops, and modeled into early prototypes for potential new services.
This article for the Service Design Journal ‘Touchpoint’ describes why promising innovations initiated inside companies and other organisations often fail to make it to implementation. There is a difference between the current perception of the road from idea to implementation, and the reality of how new concepts are genuinely created, developed and delivered. What shape does this path take, and how can designers actively support successful innovation? The authors, Marie de Vos and Klaas Jan Wierda, identify and describe three core activities. for designers and design researchers. The full article is available in Touchpoint Vol. 8 No. 1