Solution for the system

The clear identification of people’s needs is critical to the success of innovation and this is only possible with the deep understanding of the problems, wishes and environment (systems) where these people interact.

However, most organizations when they make research use traditional approaches (discussion groups and visits to clients or potential clients) that do not allow them to discover hidden needs or even not articulated needs.

There is a significant difference between what people need and what they would like to and so questionnaires are often not the best option.

Some techniques of psychology and anthropology can help us understand how people think filtering that way what they want to say us. Analyze contradictions in what people say, observing the real life or combining several techniques can give us a more framed image of real the needs of people.

People live in groups, communities or systems and act as units of relationship between themselves. They are not independent units.

There are two kinds of needs which in my opinion should be over worked to not run the risk of being creating dream solutions but with no applicability.

On the one hand we have not articulated needs, that is, those that exist but that users or consumers fail to clearly expose and whose message needs our help to translate into understandable language.

On the other hand, the “hidden needs” that are the kinds of things that people really want, but are unaware of or do not feel this need. Those needs only manifest themselves in plans for the future and are often a result of a change in the environment or in the evolutionary process of each one of us.

To be able to develop the capacity of the Organization to identify the hidden needs is one of the most valuable skills in an organization.

Timothy Prestero is the founder and CEO of Design that Matters, a nonprofit that collaborates with social entrepreneurs and volunteers to design products for the poor in developing countries…

Tim and his team made a splash when they created the NeoNurture Infant Incubator, named one of TIME Magazine’s “50 Best Inventions of 2010.” However, the product wasn’t a hit with manufacturers or with hospitals in developing countries and forever remained a prototype. Design That Matters learned an important lesson from the experience — that good design must keep in mind who will procure equipment, who will be using it, as well as the myriad ways it could be used incorrectly. As Timothy says, “There’s no such thing as a dumb user; there are only dumb products.”

This story deserves to be heard with attention because it gives us a perspective very real of, not what are the best practices but what are the hidden faces of projects where eventually we can be involved.

The research of people’s needs not only involves direct users but also a set of stakeholders which cannot be forgotten.

If the research needs, in case of health, may involve people like doctors, ambulance drivers, therapists or in other cases involve other actors equally important. When we do research of people needs it is essential that all stakeholders are identified and that match not only the “beneficiaries” of the proposed solutions but also to the authors of these solutions.

For example, the interdisciplinary research projects, in a system for the provision of food to elderly patients from the hospital, to avoid malnutrition (GSA), work with sociologists, nutritionists, food scientists, medical professionals and users of the service to develop a new service model that includes: new products, environments and interactions.

After a series of iterations as a result of needs identification we arrived to the development of prototype that materializes the product or service journey in a clear and transparent environment.

The feasibility and acceptability of the prototype will be verified through research with users/consumers and stakeholders to determine usability and framing in real life.

How should be the design of products and/or services?

Should it be the result of our inspiration?

According to the production and distribution capacity?

Driven by aesthetics?

Driven by results?

“These are the kinds of lessons — as awkward as it was to be a pretty goofy teenager, much worse to be a frustrated designer. So I was thinking about, what I really want to do is change the world. I have to pay attention to manufacturing and distribution. I have to pay attention to how people are actually going to use a device. I actually have to pay attention. Really, there’s no excuse for failure.

I have to think like an existentialist. I have to accept that there are no dumb users, that there’s only dumb products. We have to ask ourselves hard questions. Are we designing for the world that we want? Are we designing for the world that we have? Are we designing for the world that’s coming, whether we’re ready or not?

I got into this business designing products. I’ve since learned that if you really want to make a difference in the world, you have to design outcomes. And that’s design that matters.” – Timothy Prestero

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