ZenStorming

Where Science Meets Muse

Archive for August, 2013

Get Insights Into Human Behavior by Paying Attention to the Everyday

Posted by Plish on August 31, 2013

Looking for insights into human behavior?

Sometimes they are right in front of us. The problem is that we are in such an automatic mode, that we don’t notice what other people have done. We are often mindless (as opposed to mindful) observers of the world around us.  It’s a shame that we are, because these insights can be powerful inspirations for innovation.

Below you will find pictures from three different locations I’ve visited lately: A restaurant restroom, a gas station and a Walmart.  In all these pictures there’s clear evidence of what people’s preferences are.  Take a look, and use these questions to guide your reflection:

  • What do I see?
  • Why might this be happening?
  • In what ways can this be improved?

I’ll share some thoughts on the other side of the pictures…

 

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The Restaurant Restroom

I find it fascinating that people clearly have a preference for the left push button handles, most likely because they presume it’s the “hot” water.  It’s not.  In fact, both left and right push buttons release cold water.   Because the wear is so lopsided, it’s also possible that as the spring timer runs out and the water stops, people re-press the left button again, even though both buttons give cold water!

Both faucets also act the same way – although, the top picture is from the faucet that’s further from the urinals.  From that we could infer that people go for what’s closest as well.

Incidentally, I frequent this establishment and still find myself pressing the left button handle both on first and secondary presses.

In what ways would you improve this?

Gas Station

This phenomenon is in multiple places, not just at gas stations.  The “No” button gets a major workout.  Apparently most people don’t want receipts, or car washes.  These pads get worn out and need replacing all because of one button.

In what ways  would you improve this design?

Walmart

I went to buy cat litter and loved this image (I took it right before I bought the litter).  The upper and lower shelves are untouched! Everyone has been pulling from the middle shelf. As you can see from the picture (albeit barely,) the cart is just below the edge of the middle shelf.  It’s almost effortless to load up the cart with kitty litter.  (I actually took some from the upper and lower shelves for fun.)

How could the experience of kitty litter purchasing be improved?

These are just three examples from everyday experiences that highlight how people’s preferences can be inferred without having to even ask a single person.  (In the past I’ve blogged about a couple of other examples where people ignore the intended design of parking lots and walking paths.)

I also look at these examples as inspiration to design things right the first time.  Sure, components can be replaced and even re-designed, but why not get it right?  Why not do some homework up front to see what it is people do?

I’d love for you to share other examples of products that aren’t being misused per se, but clearly have aspects that are being over/under used because they are under-designed in certain ways.  Share them below or on Twitter. Use hashtag #OverUnderDesign .

Looking forward to your input!

 

 

 

 

Posted in Customer Focus, Design, innovation, Innovation Tools, problem solving, Research, Service Design | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The First Day of the 2013 IDSA International Conference in Illustrated Form

Posted by Plish on August 23, 2013

Industrial Designer and Illustrator, Craighton Berman, put together these “sketchnotes” of the 2013 IDSA International Meeting – Breaking the Rules.

Thanks Craighton for the great summaries! (Click on them to open them in a new window at full size)

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LastPartofTheDay

LastPartofTheDay

Posted in 3D Printing, culture of innovation, Design, design thinking, Experience, innovation, Maker Movement, Service Design, Social Innovation, Sustainability | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Here’s One Thing You Need to See, Analyzing Words Upon a Tree

Posted by Plish on August 20, 2013

Great innovations occur when we can see things in ways that others haven’t.

To that end, we study people, their behaviors, what they say, and what they do.

When looking through the research, sometimes it’s difficult to tease out anything new.  We get stuck in the superficial meanings of what people think.  To get deeper, we need to change our perspectives, we need to create ways of seeing the data anew.

One common tool is the ‘Word Cloud’. It does a great job of enabling us to graphically understand the frequency of certain words in a body of textual data.  The bigger the word, the more frequently it appears in a text.

For example, here is a word cloud of the Gettysburg Address.

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We can see that the words “nation”, and, “dedicated” are very predominate in the speech.  What we can’t understand though, are the contexts of these words.

Enter the Word Tree.

Word Trees enable us to see the context, understand where words are going and where they came from.

For a while, finding a free Word Tree analysis tool was pretty difficult.   However, developers have been busy and there is a new player on the block.  Jason Davies has shared his wonderful Word Tree tool here. Feel free to plug in your own text or play with the many examples that are there. (You can also enter a hyperlink to analyze web pages or Twitter feeds!)

Let’s use the tool on the Gettysburg Address and look at the word “nation”. (You can play with the Address I uploaded, here.)  What I like about Jason Davies’ tool is that you can configure the tool to show the context of what comes after the word of choice, or what comes before. Here’s an example:

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There are other Word Tree tools out there, Many Eyes, and Revelation Global.  The latter incorporates a limited word cloud into the page which is somewhat helpful, but the page is cluttered and it’s hard to move around.  Plus, there’s no way of saving the output.  Both Many Eyes and Revelation Global require registration.

I encourage you to give Jason Davies’ Word Tree a whirl. Let me know what you think.  But be warned, playing with Word Trees can be extremely engaging.  Make sure there are no deadlines looming – unless of course, those deadlines deal with understanding textual data.

Posted in Conveying Information, Design, Innovation Tools, Research | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Picasso, Bonsai and Dialogue in Innovative Design

Posted by Plish on August 6, 2013

Picasso

While visiting the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, I walked by, and almost missed a small wall that had three interesting pieces: A sketch, a paper model, and a metal piece.  The three pieces were Picasso’s.

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There were multiple dialogues, in time, space and media…

Bonsai

The other day I saw a boxwood bush at a local hardware store.  It was enormously discounted (only cost a couple of bucks) and I saw that it had potential so I bought it, brought it home, trimmed branches and roots and re-potted it.  It’s not done by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s cleaned up and now it has a chance to grow.

Before

Before CleaningBefore Cleaning 2

After

After Cleaning After Cleaning 2

My dialogue with this tree has begun…

Dialogue

Remember the three(four) “R’s”:

Respect…

This needs to be present from the start.  Without it, there’s no dialogue, only declaration,  arm twisting, unilateral chattering.

Reciprocal Relationship…

Undergirded by Respect, this is acting upon the realization that there is a dance of sorts going on,  a symphony of mutual movement, a co-creative exchange and experience.  There is a Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Co-Creation, culture of innovation, Design, design thinking, innovation, Meta-Design, problem solving, Service Design, Social Innovation, Sustainability, Workplace Creativity | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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