Design Thinking – Observe (Phase 2)

“There Are No Facts Inside Your Building, So Get Outside.” –Steve Blank

If we have completed the first iteration of phase 1 and we now have a better understanding and higher empathy for our customers situation, our own situation, we now need to move to Observation. Practitioners become keen people watchers in the observation phase of the design thinking process. They watch how people behave and interact and they observe physical spaces and places. They talk to people about what they are doing, ask questions and reflect on what they see. The understanding and observation phases of design thinking help Practitioners develop a sense of empathy.

Ask and Listen: In order to observe and develop and complete and rounded understanding, we need to be able to hear what the customers are saying and see what they are doing. Some high level points to think about are below:

  • Ask open ended questions
  • Ask 5 times -WHY?
  • Be aware of body language
  • Try to listen (80%-20%)
  • Be curious and show real-interest
  • Take Photos -Make Notes
  • Collect artifacts
  • Write Down your impressions
  • Pair up for interviews
  • Say Thank You in the end

Watch and Observe: Certainly you can, and should, combine observation and engagement. Ask someone to show you how they complete a task. Have them physically go through the steps, and talk you through why they are doing what they do. Ask them to vocalize what’s going through their mind as they perform a task or interact with an object. Have a conversation in the context of someone’s home or workplace – so many stories are embodied in artifacts. Use the environment to prompt deeper questions.

  • Look for details
  • Try to capture the atmosphere
  • Be curious, talk to people
  • Take photos, make notes
  • Speculate, WHAT IF…..??
  • Buy things, Do things
  • Collect artifacts
  • Write down your impressions
  • Be polite all the time, do not disturb
  • Act as a GUEST.

Try and Do: Unpack: When you move from empathy work to drawing conclusions from that work, you need to process all the things you heard and saw in order to understand the big picture and grasp the takeaways of it all. Unpacking is a chance to start that process – sharing what you found with fellow designers and capturing the important parts in a visual form. Get all the information out of your head and onto a wall where you can start to make connections—post pictures of your user, post-its with quotes, maps of journeys or experiences—anything that captures impressions and information about your user. This is the beginning of the synthesis process, which leads into a ‘Define’ mode.

  • Try to be empathic
  • Try to see through the eyes of the user
  • Define your task and work on it -realistically
  • State you impressions
  • Mention all the enablers and the constraints
  • Let somebody else take photos and notes
  • Take it serious and do not slapstick

We do not always want the view of the 90%, sometimes having the view of the 1-5% of the people will really give you an insight into the customer issues, pains, needs, and wants. But you need to LOOK ALSO FOR EXTREME USER………AND FOR WORKAROUNDS!

Goal is to build up Empathy. Do not ask features or Yes/No questions.

“If I’d asked people what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse.” – Henry Ford. Now even if Ford didn’t verbalize his thoughts on customers’ ostensible inability to communicate their unmet needs for innovative products — history indicates that Henry Ford most certainly did think along those lines. OBSERVE is about…:…developing empathy for the users and
discovering needs and insights.

Next up: Define. Define your point of view.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *