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Drew Smith: ethnographer, strategist and host of Rising Minds

We are interpreters of meaning

More often than not, when party conversation turns to what I do for a living, I’ll provide an ever-changing explanation and get slapped in the face with “Oh, so you’re a market researcher!”.

Now there’s nothing wrong with market researchers. The way I describe what I do, on the other hand, could clearly do with some work.

Thankfully the Design Council has come to my aid. They had the nous to stick a camera in front of, among others, Robert Verganti, author of Design-driven Innovation, and he gave his thoughts on just that topic.

The killer take-away for me?

“…if you’re targeting a more radical type of innovation, if you radically want to change the meaning of things like the Nintendo Wii, it’s a radical change of meaning, and then you actually have to step back from users. Because otherwise users pull you into the current meaning of things and you want to envision the meaning by working with interpreters, other people outside your company typically, that can help you to see the experience of how people give meaning to things from a different perspective.”

Ok, so calling myself an interpreter of meaning could could unsettle a negroni or two on the cocktail circuit. But it’s a rather nice encapsulation of what I get to do at Sense.

(Verganti quote at 4:46)

Hat tip to Brian Ling at Design Sojourn

Category: Design Strategy

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One Response

  1. Quora says:

    Is Apple lean?…

    No, clearly it is not. In fact, regarding product development Apple is anti-lean. Apple’s products have a clear design and meaning when they come into your hands. Few things are left to customers (maybe reporting bugs?). No quick customer/product vali…

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