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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On Thinking and Not Thinking

Sep 30 2016 Published by Neil Gains under book review

Proclaimed as “The All New” Don’t Think of an Elephant, George Lakoff’s classic book has been substantially rewritten and updated to reflect contemporary issues in political debate and recent electoral history. The original book was a must read for anyone interested in behavioural science, communication (or politics) and the important lessons from the first book remain, updated and expanded in this even better and more valuable book. Read more »

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Principles of Design #72 – Readability

Sep 25 2016 Published by Neil Gains under design

Readability is the degree to which prose can be understood, determined by word length, word commonality, sentence length, number of clauses in a sentence and the number of syllables in the sentence. It is something that is often overlooked by designers and researchers, who often believe that more complex information requires complex presentation. This, of course, is bunkum. The principle of cognitive fluency teaches us that the easier something is to read the more readily it will be understood and the more likely it will be acted on. I write this as I am preparing for a client workshop on report writing where the number 1 principle is make everything as simple as possible (but no simpler as Einstein famously said). Read more »

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Design Methods #40 – Case Studies

Aug 01 2016 Published by Neil Gains under design

Case studies have always been an important part of teaching and also have been used regularly in the social sciences and design. They are useful in exploratory research for comparison with existing knowledge about a topic, problem, phenomenon or design, as well as to provide inspiration and to inform better practice. Read more »

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Design Methods #38 – Crowdsourcing

May 28 2016 Published by Neil Gains under design

Crowdsourcing happens when a “crowd” or group of volunteers help to solve or complete a task or project. Crowdsourcing is an approach that can be used to collect large quantities of data or solutions from a range of people outside your organisation in a short amount of time. Read more »

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Design Methods #36 – Cultural Probes

Mar 02 2016 Published by Neil Gains under design

Cultural probes are the name designers give to exercises, activities and provocations given to participants in a study to provide inspiration and understanding about their lives, thoughts, feelings and behaviours, and the cultural and social context that informs them. In market research, such activities might be associated with longitudinal studies and with pre-work (homework) and follow-up work done in connection with more formal interviews and participant discussions.¬† Read more »

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Why Copying is Good for Creativity and Innovation

Jan 27 2016 Published by Neil Gains under book review

In Copy, Copy, Copy, Mark Earls argue that creativity in marketing (or anywhere else) is essentially about following the success of the theory of evolution outlined by Charles Darwin. Although the title of the book focuses on the copying part, the truth is that his central argument is that the essence of progress is “loose” copying, following the are of an idea but introducing variations into it. As Darwin demonstrates, if you do this enough times then eventually what emerges is superior to what came¬†before.

The beauty of the book, which I highly recommend, is that in arguing the case for copying as a creative strategy, Mark Earls also manages to integrate a lot of behavioural thinking into the strategies and approaches he outlines and gets away from the arguments about which marketing strategies work best. He argues that the first question to ask is “What kind of thing is this?” and from that then find an appropriate strategy to address the specific challenge. Read more »

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Principles of Design #68 – Uniform Connectedness

Jan 06 2016 Published by Neil Gains under design

Uniform connectedness is the principle that elements that are connected by uniform visual properties, the most common being colour, are seen as more related than other elements that do not share a visual property. This is a recent addition to the Gestalt principles of psychology, based on the perception of elements with uniform visual properties as a single group or chunk of information. A single matrix composed of dots is seen as columns where common regions, lines or colours connect the dots vertically, whereas it is send as rows when the common regions, lines or colours connect them horizontally. Read more »

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The Social Psychology of Music

Oct 19 2015 Published by Neil Gains under sensory branding

As the authors of The Social Psychology of Music point out, although music has many functions in human life, they are all essentially social. We use music to communicate, even when from very different backgrounds and speaking different languages. Music has the ability to trigger very powerful emotions., forming the basis of shared experiences. Music always conveys meaning, but that meaning is always situated in a social and cultural context. Meaning can never be free of context. Read more »

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