RODD/ Observe.Innovate.Design

An industrial design and innovation agency working with international clients to deliver strategic product design solutions.

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ETHNOGRAPHY AT THE FRONT END OF DESIGN AND INNOVATION

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Ethnography is now a staple discipline within user-centred design agencies and is now taken for granted. But what does this regularly over-used term mean? Ethnography can be seen as a broad research approach or even a research ‘style’, rather than one specific methodology.

The crux here, and what differentiates ethnography from conventional qualitative research (such as focus groups and online panels), is to get under the skin of everyday human behaviour, to better understand the context and the specifics of the users we are looking to engage with in the most natural way possible.

With the right methods and a healthy dose of situational curiosity, user-centred designers and researchers can uncover new insights and develop new opportunities for almost any given topic. This immediacy and often insight rich approach make ethnography perfectly suited to the front end of the design and innovation process.

Three things to remember…

1. Tag along. Primarily good ethnography is an observational process, with discreet but natural questioning – avoid interrupting the natural flow of behaviour at all costs. Think of yourself as tagging along in the background.

2. Make a narrative. We use video and lots of photography (along with notes) to capture the story and insights as we travel through the day with the subject(s). This material makes for great narratives that can be shared with the design and client teams.

3. Don’t Delay. Debrief the team and discuss insights and observations on a daily basis. Delaying this until the end of the research phase doesn’t help as the subtlety of the observation or the specific of the points get lost.

Read about our work in this space.

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ONE MONTH IN

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On the day of our arrival, a new project kicked off. Both Nilas and I were immediately immersed in the agency work from the get-go. No slow easing-in period – instead it was boom! work — which is a positive but somewhat daunting situation to find oneself in, especially right after moving countries for a job. However, it ended up being a great opportunity to get to know the work process and people at the studio: after working closely together with everyone  for even just a couple of weeks, I felt as if the time spent at Rodd had been considerably longer. And I do mean this in a positive way.
Now, after a couple of months,

I consider myself pretty lucky: not only do I get to be involved in diverse and interesting projects, I also come to a very nice studio every day to work with people who are passionate about their work and great at what they’re doing. They’re also great to get along with!

For others thinking about a consultancy:

You’ll need innate curiosity and you’re likely to be someone who enjoys switching between subjects and projects. Being a self-starter, who is comfortable with the rotation of very busy runs and willing to get stuck-in across a wide range

of tasks is also important. A good consultant is a team player and appreciates constructive criticism and is open to ideas that may conflict with their own. This word is thrown around quite a bit and might sound corny, but passion – when seeking comfort, it’s perhaps not wise to choose the consultancy route which requires agility, resilience and pushing oneself to improve and think differently all the time.

In my opinion, skills can always be acquired; it’s the mindset that needs to match a consultancy way of thinking.

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Just Landed

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After an overwhelming response to our hunt for new industrial design talent we are please to welcome two great international designers to strengthen the design team.

Nilas joins us from Sweden and has a degree in industrial design from Umeå Institute of Design having previously enjoyed a spell at Designit

and B/S/H (Bosch & Siemens Home appliances) Munich.

Semele originally from Estonia has already spent time working in design studios in Amsterdam and Berlin after graduating with an MA in Industrial Design from Lund University in Sweden.

With a mix of background and professional experience both Nilas and Semele were obvious talent and stood out from the crowd. They bring with them a rounded portfolio of pure industrial design and user research which will compliment the core team.