How do people close to us see STBY?

An interview with the partner of one of our design researchers.

It is sometimes hard to explain what we do – especially to people who are less familiar with our field of work than we are. To get a better sense of alternative ways to explain what we do, we asked some people close to us how they see us.

For this article we interviewed Thijs about his girlfriend Marie, design researcher at STBY Amsterdam.

How would you explain what Marie does?

When Thijs tries to explain to his friends exactly what his girlfriend does, he usually starts by telling them she is a researcher at STBY. “She’s not a typical market-researcher, but she researches how services of companies are being used.” Because it is difficult to understand what service design actually is, he usually tells his friends that she tries to figure out how services can be improved by investigating the behavior of the users.

Thijs tells his friends that “the research is not a boring report of sixty pages,” but that the results are always presented visually in videos or infographics: “something creative that will translate the research to their customers in an understandable product.” There is not a set way to do service design, which makes it hard to pinpoint what it is. “The projects they do are very different from one another, but always get solved by STBY in the same way: by creatively finding ways to improve services.”

What is Marie’s background?

Thijs en Marie met while both following a media technology Master in Leiden. They both came from very different backgrounds but followed the same classes. Marie had just received her Bachelor in Cognitive Psychology and Thijs had studied multi-media and design.

The media technology Master environment is a place where students are encouraged to create products inspired by their own personal needs and experiences. The idea behind this learning process is the belief that new scientific insights are encountered by doing and creating. “We learned a lot of creative ways to do research while improving our technological abilities.” This Master contributed greatly towards Marie’s ability to understand both the designer and the end user, something which is crucial for being a good service designer.

How does her personality affect her research?

“Because of her psychology background, she has way more experience in doing research. She is very precise and scientifically-based, I’m more practical. This has a lot to do with perfectionism and her capability to take ownership of a project and how she strives for high quality,” something that Thijs greatly admires. “This couldn’t be more different than me. I’m more practical and finish things in a quicker fashion.” Even though Thijs would love to be as dedicated as Marie, he also sees a slight problem: “She wants things to be almost too perfect. Sometimes you have to kill your darlings and go on or say ‘now it’s good enough’.”

“Apart from the organising and perfectionistic part, she knows how to tackle and solve a problem. I admire her for that.” Together with other STBY employees, Marie knows how to solve problems and find creative solutions. Thijs tries to adopt those skills into his own work: “I work at quite a large company, cozy and safe in an office. Marie goes out there to talk to users without any pre-assumptions. At STBY they find stories, and with those they will work out solutions for certain problems. This is also something what I would want to do more.”

What do you think makes Marie good at what she does at STBY?

“Analyzing human behavior really is a strong skill she has.” From a user-research perspective she has a great personal talent for reassuring people and giving them the freedom to open up. “When she’s on the train, strangers tell their life stories to her very easily – really personal stuff.” The ability to connect with people on a personal level is very important for service design in order to figure out what a user actually needs. This is what makes Marie such a great service designer, and the “organising and perfectionistic part”, of course.

If you want to read more about Marie, you can find her personal profile here.

With many thanks to Thijs and Marie for sharing this!

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