Tag Archives: consultancy

Jan Chipchase’s guide for pop-up field studios

Jan Chipchase

A pop-up studio in Myanmar, Photo by Jan Chipchase.

Editor’s note: Jan Chipchase, a former creative director of Global Insights at Frog Design and principal scientist at Nokia, is the founder of Studio D Radiodurans, a research, design and innovation consultancy. His interest lies in field research and the exploration of human behavior, which he addresses in a booklet guide entitled Pop-Up Studio. We talked recently about this notion, the concept of a “studio” and about his plans for the future.

Nicolas Nova: Prior to discussing this new book, I’m curious about the very notion of “studio”. It’s a concept coming from design and architecture that found its way to field research, in the context of design exploration. What do you mean by “studio” and what does mean for field researchers ?

Jan Chipchase: Most of the work is commissioned as part of design projects that encompass concepting, prototyping, future scoping, strategy and so on. In that sense it is a space that needs to support collaborative learning, the exploration and iteration of ideas and designs. The studio is the closest model.

NN: The idea of having a “pop-up studio” close to the field is an intriguing notion. What kinds of activities can happen in this context (unlike getting back to the consultancy office/motherboard)?

JC: Like any approach there are pros and cons and the trick is understanding where and when it’s most appropriate. We explore some of the alternatives in the book.

The benefits of running a pop-up studio for the kinds of deep immersive projects we’re tasked with include:

The space inspires, supports different forms of interaction, collaboration and allows the team to move to a different level of understanding with one another – this is especially important on multinational teams. Done right you can see individuals and the team achieve a sense of flow. The psychology of the space is critical, and we also look beyond the project to how the experience is reflected upon.

Regardless of how things are normally done as a team you can reinvent the rules of how you want to live and work, which most people find invigorating. It might give the HR department palpitations, but it works. From a creative standpoint. It’s not so much thinking out of the box as challenging the notion of what a box is, the materials it’s made of, the properties of those materials and how they relate to one another.

It makes it easier to staff a research + design + strategy project with a single researcher and still give the rest of the team meaningful field experience, in that it impacts what they make or how they think and the outcome of the project. People naturally want to talk about the experiences that shape their life, not out of obligation to the project or the organisation that they work for but because it defines who they are, who they want to be and how they want to be perceived. That’s your delivery mechanism right there.

“People naturally want to talk about the experiences that shape their life, not out of obligation to the project or the organisation that they work for but because it defines who they are, who they want to be and how they want to be perceived.”

It also allows you to engage executive level (CEO, EVP, …) people. One of our rules is “no tourists”. Everyone, no matter how senior, is put to work. They are some of the biggest fans.

We have a dedicated synthesis and sense making process, but this model allows for constant (after each session, each day, at the end of each location) iteration on the questions, so that the next day when the team goes out they are pushing the learning forward. There’s a learning curve for individuals and the team and the trick is to know where you are on that curve – it’s only apparent when you’re in the field.Read More… Jan Chipchase’s guide for pop-up field studios

Insights from network data analysis that yield field observations

Fabien Girardin

Editor’s note: This post for the April ‘Ethnomining‘ edition comes from Fabien Girardin @fabiengirardin who describes his work with networked/sensor data at the Louvre Museum in Paris. Based on this inspiring case study, he discusses the overall process, how mixed-methods are relevant in his work, and what kind lessons he learnt doing this.

Fabien Girardin is Partner at the Near Future Laboratory, a research agency. He is active in the domains of user experience, data science and urban informatics.


Visitor congestion at the Louvre Museum

Visitor congestion at the Louvre Museum, picture by Fabien Girardin

At the Near Future Laboratory we like to experiment and to go in different directions from the typical technology consultancy. We thrive on the involvement of multiple practices, and bet on the unordinary when it comes to question formulation, data collection and solution creation. After completing my PhD in Computer Science, I left the bounded disciplines of academia to embrace learning and connecting to the other “fields”, the other ways of knowing and seeing the world. Along with partners Julian Bleecker, Nicolas Nova and a network of tactical scouts, we formed a technology-based practice that combines insight and analysis, design and research, and rapid prototyping to transform ideas into material form.

Over the past 5 years, I have led investigations that aim to extract knowledge from the byproducts of people’s digital activities (i.e. network data, also often called digital shadows or digital footprints). That intangible material can take the form of logs of cellular network activity, aggregated credit card transactions, real-time traffic information, user-generated content or social network updates. Over time my contributions have evolved into helping transform this type of big data into insights, products and services. Whether applied for a client or as part of our self-started initiatives, this practice requires the basic skills of a “data scientist” (data analysis, information architecture, software engineering and creativity) along with a capacity to engage at the intersections with a wide variety of professionals, from physicists and engineers to lawyers, strategists and designers. The transversal incline of investigations on network data requires understanding the different languages that shape technologies, reporting on the context of their use, and describing people’s practices. The model of inquiry blends qualitative field observations with quantitative evidence often extracted from logs.

The investigation of network data involves along several steps multiple practices and skills from engineering, to statistics, design, strategy planning, product management and ethnography

The investigation with network data involves multiple practices and skills from engineering, to statistics, design, strategy planning, product management and ethnography; picture by Fabien Girardin

Past projects have led us to exploit untapped data sources, uncover opportunities to transform data into insights, and materialize new services or products. Our method first contemplates datasets and techniques to approach our objectives. Then we develop tangible solutions that engage the project stakeholders in exploring different scenarios and solutions. It is through the experiences of  people with knowledge of the project domain that we are able to extract possible near-future changes and opportunities.

Read More… Insights from network data analysis that yield field observations