Design Research, with Grit

Design Research / Transformation / Service Design
⬇︎⬇︎⬇︎ this way ⬇︎⬇︎⬇︎

Here’s how Design Research starts

"Every act of creation is first an act of destruction." Pablo Picasso

The world thinks it’s moving at warp speed. Buzzwords accumulate like lost socks. It’s time to grasp the needle in the haystack.
Design Research brings tools to the table that support context- focused decision-making from the human point of view, complimenting business modelling, strategy, and organisation design.
Evidence-based Design.
Qualitative and Quantitative.
Feelings and Numbers.
Qualitative and quantitative data,  melded by design principles,  results in  tangible processes, products and services.
The upshot: efficient, effective and unexpected ways of creating and measuring value.
  • Observe, silently.
  • Listen, actively.
  • Question, childishly.
Then, let it SOAK.
Design Research, with GRIT.

To be away from home and yet to feel oneself everywhere at home…the lover of universal life enters into the crowd as though it were an immense reservoir of electrical energy…

Charles Baudelaire – The Painter in Modern Life


Originality is…Discerning patterns that unlock value

Design Research / Transformation / Innovation / Service Design

Understand – Setting the Stage

  • Desk Research – get up to speed with the domain and its adjacent domains.
  • Map organisational structure and decision-making flow.
  • Interpret existing Customer Research and identify gaps.
  • Ethnographic Research- observation and conversation. What is done VS what is said to be done.
    • with employees, managers, security guards – the entire internal space (back stage).
    • with end-users / customers – the external space (front stage).


– Problem space(s) identified.

– Ideas designated for exploration.

– Research Report.

– Knowledge transfer.

Explore – Idea to Prototype

  • Design and Facilitate Workshops.
  • Conversation and Analysis Sessions.
  • Prototype:
    • Conversations.
    • Processes / Operating Procedures.
    • Tools.
  • Field test with end users.


– Answers to evidence-based business question(s).

– Plans to implement “the thing” / experiment.

– Tools & Techniques matrix.

– Measurement framework.

– Knowledge transfer.

Launch & Evolve – Eyes & Ears Open

  • Establish rhythms of Research and Horizon Scanning.
  • Support ongoing research and strategy goals.


– Experiment / “the thing” to monitor.

– Roadmap outline to fill in over experiment(s).

– Success criteria against which to measure experiment / “the thing”.

– Knowledge transfer.


Great steps in human progress are made by things that don’t work the way philosophy thought they should. If things always worked the way they should, you could write the history of world from now on. But they don’t, and it is those deviations from the normal that make human progress.

Charles Kettering



Transforming Operations
Nudging the Tanker

Here is one of the few effective keys to the design problem — the ability of the designer to recognize as many of the constraints as possible — his willingness and enthusiasm for working within these constraints. Constraints of price, of size, of strength, of balance, of surface, of time and so forth.

Charles Eames

  • Caledonian Sleeper
  • Vodafone
  • Telefonica
  • BP
  • Foreign & Commonwealth Office
  • Orange

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