Design Research Fieldwork and Saying Yes

These last 2.5 years as a design researcher at IDEO have involved a lot of saying “yes.” When you’re doing fieldwork you’re entering someone’s life and quickly understanding what they need in order to feel comfortable — so that you can learn what you need in order to inspire a design process. It’s tricky, and also beautifully human.

Here are some ways I’ve said yes:

Yes, I will taste your mysterious spice blend! I will climb to the top of your water tower on the totally rickety ladder! I will attach this thing to my shoe so I don’t create static electricity and blow up the factory! I will ride in the back of your police car! I will eat your favorite granola bar! Yes, I will peer deep inside this vat of paint solvent and almost pass out!

And in return, our research participants say yes.

Yes, strange people, come into my home! Ask me intrusive questions about my favorite vegetables and how I install software! Take photos of my refrigerator/car/insulin pump! Yes, come to my acoustic gig! Yes, I will show you the secrets to sword swallowing and beer brewing! I will tell you when I’m on vacation and how much my electronics cost!

The trust on both sides is extreme and appreciated.

One thought on “Design Research Fieldwork and Saying Yes”

  1. Hi Juliette,
    I would love to have a chat with you about empathic design, because i am doing my masters research in that field. looking forward to hearing from you. thanks

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