Does the future need experts?

Apr 10 2017 Published by Neil Gains under creativity

I was lucky to attend a very interesting panel discussion last week, organised by the British Council along with the University of London and Royal Holloway College. Much of the discussion focused on the current discontent with “experts”, expressed most famously by Michael Gove during the UK referendum which led to Brexit. Much of the discussion focused on the implications for higher education. Some panellists agreed with a statement I’ve heard elsewhere that one of the biggest trends of the last 100 years is the professionalisation and specialisation of the world. Read more »

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Design Methods #44 – Elito method

Feb 26 2017 Published by Neil Gains under design

The Elito method is an approach to help designers develop comprehensive and connected solutions grounded in research insights and business objectives. The approach helps designers and researchers move from research findings to the articulation of design directions, helping them move from analysis to synthesis and bridge research outputs to the needs of business, through the development of fact-based narratives. The approach was developed in 2002 and named after Eli Blevis (the name is a shortened version of “Eli’s Toolbox”). Read more »

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Design Methods #39 – Speed Dating

Jun 20 2016 Published by Neil Gains under design

The concept of speed dating is well known, and in design and research the same idea is applied to comparing multiple design concepts or ideas in rapid succession. This gives researchers the opportunity for quick feedback and also to collect more general information on usage context, societal and environmental issues. Speed dating is typically used at early stages of development to rapidly screen visual ideas and storyboards rather than more developed prototypes. Read more »

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Design Methods #33 – Content Analysis

Oct 03 2015 Published by Neil Gains under design

Content analysis is a systematic listing and description of the form and content of written, spoken or visual materials, often leading to a summarisation around themes, patterns and frequency counts of specific items (words, phrases, images, concepts, etc). Content analysis is typically used in qualitative research to provide a more manageable way to analyse open-ended comments and verbatims. Content analysis can be used to give structure and system to what are often deep accounts of a topic, but with lengthy text or transcripts and ambiguous images that can be very time-consuming to interpret. Read more »

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On Becoming More Risk Savvy

Sep 05 2015 Published by Neil Gains under book review

“Knowledge is the antidote to fear” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Risk Savyy is recommended for everyone. Over the course of the book, Gerd Gigerenzer highlights the ways in which all of us, including the very best professionals, often misunderstand and misuse statistics and probabilities and end up making the wrong decision. He shows that risk and uncertainty are not the same thing, and how the way in which information is presented changes the decisions that we make. While covering some of the same ground as Daniel Kahneman in Thinking, Fast and Slow,this book contains simple rules and tools that will help you to avoid the same mistakes. Read more »

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Digest, Sleep, Create

Aug 13 2015 Published by Neil Gains under creativity

What can sleep teach us about creativity? In The Secret World of Sleep, Penelope Lewis describes what sleep enables us to do that we can’t while awake. In many ways, the book is not just about sleep, but about the science of the brain, how memory works and what sleep brings to the creative process.

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

Jul 17 2015 Published by Neil Gains under book review

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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Why Brainy Thinking Needs More Than A Brain

Jul 03 2015 Published by Neil Gains under behavioural change

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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Design Methods #27 – Think-aloud protocol

Feb 01 2015 Published by Neil Gains under design

Think-aloud protocol is an approach that asks users to verbalise what they are thinking and doing as they work through a task, in order to find aspects of the user experience that delight and more importantly those aspects that confuse and frustrate or don’t work in the way that they should. This is a very common method to evaluate usability of a product, service and, most often, software or website. The method is very straightforward in allowing users to share what they are thinking, feeling and doing as they complete any task, and to what extent the object or process being evaluated is helping them to achieve their immediate goals. Read more »

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Design Methods #22 – Experiments

Jul 31 2014 Published by Neil Gains under design

Experiments are used in design and research to measure the effects of actions or features by showing the causal relationship between those actions or features and specific outcomes (e.g., behaviours). Typically, a hypothesis is posed about such relationships and then the actions or features are manipulated in controlled ways while the outcome is measured. In the simplest case (say low sweetness vs high sweetness in a beverage), the comparison of outcomes (amount drunk, preference rating) between the two conditions provides a simple model of the impact of the manipulation of sweetness.

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