Successful design processes start with meaningful user research. But how do you anchor the results and knowledge in the entire team?

As a speaker on Service Design Day and interview partner, Roman Schöneboom already answered a lot of our questions. Finally, he shared his ‘9 Lessons Learned’ with us, based on his experience as a service designer at the UK Ministry of Justice, Tesco PLC and currently the Lloyds Banking Group.

Learning 1: Tell stories and be visual

A key principle is that the single most important job you have as researcher is not doing the research, it’s getting that research into the heads of your team.

Learning 2: Create a research wall

| Inspired by Government Digital Services, research walls are seen as vertical campfires – places where teams can gather round, connect and share insights.

| Use printed posters to update with A4 print outs and post-its.

| Place it in a visible high-traffic area. Update regularly. Sit back and watch people flock to your research.

Learning 3: Do regular research playbacks with the team – telling the stories of the individuals you met

| Avoid the big reveal and update regularly, invite people from other bits of the business.

| A three-hour presentation at the end of a two-months research sprint doesn’t help anybody.

| Giving time for the ideas to percolate in the team means when you enter the ideation phase everyone will be already primed with ideas.

Learning 4: Visualise things early helps you to see patterns

| Rank your customers on important factors such as health and mobility and familiarity with technology.

| Something like this will help to see who your extreme customers are – these are the people from which you’ll learn the most. It’ll help you to re-think your recruitment plan for the next phase of research.

Learning 5: Research as a team sport

But more importantly than just presenting back the ideas is actually taking your team to the coal face to discover real but unexpressed and unmet customer needs. You need to go where the people are. To embrace their world, you have to be in their world. This is an essential
part of building empathy and there is no substitute for it.

There is plenty of evidence that increasing “exposure hours” of your team results in the design of better products. However, in order to make this work you need to invest in your team.

Learning 6: Create exposure hours in your team

| Run training sessions with your team before you take them out into the field – to reinforce how important it is to embrace the world view of the customer and how to ask open ended questions.

| Provide them with field guides covering practicalities like where to meet up, what to do with assets after the sessions.

| Use stickers to reward team members who had been out on sessions.

| Use your research wall as a vehicle to show the rest of the business how you are doing things differently.

Learning 7: Collaborate for best results

How many times have you had to deal with a senior stakeholder saying “but you’ve only spoken to seven users, how can you make assumptions about the needs of all our customers?” And sure, you can have that debate about the merits of small data versus big data, how it
helps us explain ‘the why’ behind ‘the what’.

But what about also facing into it? The best results come when you collaborate more widely within the research community.

Learning 8: Have a dedicated data analyst

As themes emerge, he is then able to see how representative your findings are. He is also able to see what the cost implications are and what the size of the opportunity are if we fix it. This is invaluable when having conversations with senior stakeholders who are – let’s
face it – interested in the bottom line and trying to figure out where best to spend money in order to get the biggest results.

Learning 9: Team up with academic researchers and charities

| Academic researchers often have a very different approach, which can bring a lot to your project. Consult with universities to look at their sources for more longitudinal data that looks at societal trends across a region or country and over longer time periods. They are able to advise on your approach.

| Engage with charities – they offer great subject matter expertise and a huge network, which helps for recruitment.

Learnings from Roman Schöneboom

Doing all this means you have really explored the full landscape and it adds gravitas and weight to your own research study and means senior stakeholders are more likely to engage with the results.

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