Meet Jenny Holland. Jenny is a senior researcher at ESRO; an award winning multi-method research agency. Our next project is focused on design research and I’m delighted to be working with Jenny and Becky Rowe from ESRO to deliver content that is focused on the process a designer goes through from research to insight. Here’s what Jenny has to say…
1. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt over the last year?
What customers or users say they want from a service or product can differ greatly from how they practically use it. If you ask people what they want, they’ll ask for the moon and want it for free. So it’s important to understand what people are actually doing, what decisions they have already made, and what behaviours they already exhibit around a product or service, to really understand what they want and need from it.
2. What’s your burning question of the moment?
How do we stop organisations being scared of using insight to get the full value out of the process? How do we shift organisations from commissioning insight at the last minute to confirm their assumptions and ideas, to a point of trying to understand the audience from the beginning and making more informed decisions? People across all different organisations are working really hard and pretty long hours to make things happen, and as a result generating really useful insight can sometimes slip down the to-do list. It means people start to get anxious about not getting the ‘right insights’ back from the research. The best clients we work with are the ones who are excited about having their thinking challenged and stretched and are willing to think outside of their own field of reference!
3. What’s the most inspiring thing you’ve seen/ heard/ read in the last year?
I’ve met some amazing people through this line of work – including a lady a few weeks ago. She’s 61 and living in Kent. Last year she went through a difficult divorce, as a result of which she had to sell her house and move. Her whole life was uprooted. Then she was diagnosed with early-onset dementia. Then she had to leave her work. Her whole world was changing and she was struggling to fully understand because of her cognitive decline. But she was astonishingly happy and content with life. She had designed her own little coping strategies – from diaries full of different colour notes, her ‘brain bag’ of things she needed to take everywhere, booklets to help her teach herself to use the bus for when she’s unable to drive anymore. She was adapting and staying positive and it was truly inspirational.
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