Tuesday, June 02, 2009
MBA Design Leadership elective - session 6
Users, stakeholders, customers: People!
This class was an opportunity to get messy through design. I asked the students to use two design methods - following "extreme users" and "experience prototyping" - to analyse the stakeholder experience at the train station, come up with improvements, and quickly prototype the improved experience to share their ideas.
Like von Hippel’s lead users, the idea of extreme users offers to way to understand the service by looking at the margins of the stakeholder group (eg people who do not speak or read English). By looking at the service through the experience of extreme users, the students uncovered some surprising assumptions built into it. Analysing these may offer easy ways to improve the service experience from the point of view of many other kinds of stakeholder.
Having been to the station following one of the members of the team (the extreme user - see the photo in which the student presents a piece of paper to the customer service rep saying he doesn't speak English) and documenting this through photography, video and sketching, the teams generated ideas to solve the problems they identified. The next task was to mock up, using whatever means seemed appropriate, the experience of part of the service, as a way of making tangible and testing some of the improvements they came up with. Finally, we invited someone to walk through these prototypes.
The reading for this week drew on recent work on the boundaries of ethnography and design ("anthrodesign"), participatory and inclusive design, and the notion of wicked problems. Once multiple stakeholders with very different ways of understanding the world are asked to frame problems, design methods which serve to create visual and experiential representations can play an important role in tackling such problems.