What do I mean?
I’ll ponder that with more pondering…
What was the requirements aspect of designing this skate park?
Was the design co-created with your typical skaters? ie. children, teenagers, adolescents in the design process
And if it was, what was the methodology?
Did they simply ask them what they want, or did they observe other local skate parks?
Did they observe skaters in our local area, to see their makeshift skating areas, and urban structures that provided popular skating recreation?
If they didn’t do this, here’s what could go wrong?
1. Focus groups, but lacks observation
Thanks for the skate park it’s great fun, but there’s isn’t a flat area to the side where we can practice our kick filps and ollies.
But we asked you kids what you wanted, and you failed to mention that…
Yeah I guess we did, I guess we are used to having a lot of flat area, and what we really lacked was a hilly area…so that’s what we really wanted when you asked us…we forgot about our other needs like flat areas, that we take for granted.
2. Best practice may not be best fit
This scenario is worse as it lacks co-creation and observation…
Just say rather than co-creation (and/or observation), the designers looked at other local skate parks as the only design research method…
Thanks for the skate park it’s great fun, but round this local area we are more half pipe type skaters, rather than freestlyle street skaters. It would of been good to have a half pipe as the showcase feature, rather than the quarter pipe.
Or maybe they overlooked bmx riders, and scooters; who would also like the skate park to be usable for their vehicles.
…actually this is deeper than just design research best practice, it’s even making your purpose and goals based on best practice, and not your own backyard
3. Worst scenario
I don’t think this would happen that often, but it’s building a skate park when you don’t really have any interested skaters.
Scenario’s 2 and 3 needn’t be explored further as they are poor approaches, in respect to real needs, and understanding the context of your users and environment
What could make scenario 1 more effective?
I’ve already mentioned it…we need to observe the users in their natural environment and see how they self-organise themselves ie. what are the attractors, what are the exceptions…
And the other part is co-creation needs to be through the whole process; not just a focus group. That means youth with hardhats on site making decisions that may deviate from the requirements. This means an agile design process.
Another way to do this is have this whole idea, design, procurement and construction project online. In each of the phases the potential users and other experienced people could be chiming in and discussing the purpose, the materials and how the progress aligns with usability. This way midway through the project, we have an opportunity to alter part of the design that will make all the difference to usability and popularity. If project managers use complexity and agile methods they can deal and adapt to uncertainty.
The theme of this post is agile method projects, co-creation from start to end, observation; and online awareness, communication, collaboration and emergence.
I think if all these elements are in place, then your are more likely to succeed. And to be clear, succeeding is not the project management part; it’s the part when everything is done and people turn up to your party, and how long they stay, and whether they’re having a good time.
But let’s be realistic, this is not democratic…the project can be slowed down due to conflicting views and indecision…actually "slow" isn’t bad, it may be what’s needed…mostly what I’m referring to is that once people are truly heard and acknowledged, someone has to make the decision.
How agile are government projects or the contractors they hire; how do they feel about others making decisions, especially youth?
If the answer is negative; why is this so, is it just entrainment of past patterns, ie. that’s how we always have done it…simply ignorant to better ways of working?
It’s easy to not involve co-creation and observation in your work approach. All you do is make a plan and try and execute it…you don’t need an education for that approach. And when it fails, you have to force people to like it, which isn’t good. As I mentioned in my previous post courses in design thinking, ethnography, social psychology, interpersonal skills, facilitation/coaching and agile methods really need to make the rounds in organisations.
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