Contradict, Connect and Create: A better way to insights?

Jul 17 2015

What is remarkable about insights?

In the first chapter of Seeing What Others Don’t, Gary Klein references a slide that he had often used to argue for the importance of insights and their relative neglect in business. The slide showed visually that Performance improvements = reducing errors + increasing insights. As he points out, businesses too often focus on the first at the expense of the second. They spend a lot of energy trying to eliminate errors rather than opening themselves up to potential (and often more impactful) insights that can create value.

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Using Price to Your Advantage

Jul 14 2015

I’ve written a few pieces on the psychology of pricing recently, so now it’s time to turn to the business of pricing. The Price Advantage is definitely one of the best books on using pricing to create commercial advantage, and avoiding common mistakes that businesses make. While it doesn’t touch much on the psychology of individual customers it does provide a great overview and frameworks for thinking about pricing strategy and maximising profitability through price.

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Principles of Design #64 – Visibility

Jul 05 2015

A basic principle of designing systems is that usability is greatly improved when there are easy to see feedback systems which show how to use the system along with its current status. This enables users to clearly see current status, possible future actions and the likely consequences of such actions. A very simple example is the common use of red lights to indicate when a system is receiving power. Other examples would be the illumination of certain parts of a system to indicate that they are available for use or the use of sound and touch to provide feedback when actions have been completed (for example, the clicking of a mouse, or the “whoosh” when something is placed in your computer trash can). Read more »

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Why Brainy Thinking Needs More Than A Brain

Jul 03 2015

Hopefully by now most of us realise that the mind versus body problem is a quaint notion from the past, when we mistakenly believed that our minds floated in some ether disconnected from the real world. The idea of embodied cognition, that the brain is in fact only a central switching point for the central nervous system to send constant feedback on where we are and what we are doing.  We only learn and acquire knowledge through our body (via the senses), and we only experience the world, including emotions, feelings and experience, through this system. Read more »

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Why Our Stomach (and Brain) Can’t Count: Seven Reasons We Eat More Than We Think

Jun 18 2015

In Mindless Eating, Brian Wansink provides a fantastic behavioural perspective on human eating habits, based on years of subtle, sophisticated and sometimes strange experiments. The book contains a long list of behavioural quirks, so I have picked seven key ideas from the book that help explain why we often eat more than we should or need to, and how we can change our environment to improve our eating habits. Read more »

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Design Methods #31 – Value Opportunity Analysis

Jun 16 2015

VOA Chart for Blender (sourced from DesignWiki)

Value Opportunity Analysis helps researchers and designers map the impact of user’s aspirations and lifestyle to product design features. As we have written in Brand esSense and on this blog, where product execution meets the goals of customers, then they will pay a higher price and appreciate any improvement that makes the product better deliver against their goals (or ‘jobs’). Many products and services are designed to improve quality of life, and the connection to improved life quality depends on those things most valued by customers. Read more »

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Design Methods #30 – Shadowing

May 27 2015

Shadowing is the generic term for observational methods that involve following someone in their role or performing a task, in order to experience someone’s daily life and garner insights into the nuances of day-to-day tasks and human behaviours. Typically, shadowing is well documented with photographs, notes and sketches and supplemented with face-to-face discussion to understand the details of behaviours and decisions.

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Principles of Design #63 – von Restorff Effect

May 19 2015

The von Restorff effect describes how out memory is more likely to recall noticeably different things than those which are more common. It is a result of the attention that is given to distinctive objects in the environment or within a set of other objects (for example, a list of words or a sequence of events or a series of faces). the effect happens when there is a difference in context (i.e. the contrast between one item and the others surrounding it) or a difference in experience (i.e. an experience clashes with our memory of similar events). It is also known as the isolation effect and the novelty effect. Read more »

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The Rhythm of Life: The esSense of music

Apr 28 2015

“Music is so naturally united with us that we cannot be free from it even if we so desired”  – Boethius

I have loved music all my life, and visitors often mention my music collection as one of the first things that strikes them. As well as being large, my tastes are quite diverse, and it’s always fascinated me how different music can radically change the mood, both at home and also in the cinema or in a retail outlet.

If you have ever watched a film with and without the musical score you’ll notice a huge difference in the way you react to events on the screen, and music is still often undervalued for its profound effect on how we experience the world. Read more »

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Principles of Design #62 – Chunking

Apr 21 2015

Chunking is the process of combining different units of information into a more limited number of ‘chunks’, in order to make it easier to understand and remember. Our short-term memory is limited, perhaps to 4 pieces of information (rather than the “7″ from the famous paper by George Miller). Although there is some truth in the idea that 7 digit telephone numbers are at the limit of our memory, in reality we typically “chunk” such numbers up into shorter strings of 2, 3 or 4 digits to make them easier to remember. The maximum number of such chunks that can be remembered or processed at any one time is around four (plus or minus one). Most of us can remember a list of five words for up to 30 seconds, but very few of us can remember a list of 10 (without using special memory tricks). Read more »

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