December 05, 2017
Design + research, research + design: Multidisciplinary in action
By: John Lynch and Iana Vassileva

Here at The Dock, we’re all researchers; we’re trying to understand the world in a new way on every project we do.

Recently, we've been working on how to merge Accenture's expertise in understanding markets and technology with the methods used by designers in the ethnographic and people-centred research.

When a new project arrives at The Dock, we use a new “framing” process which we have pioneered to allow us to ask the right questions of the brief and to help us to understand the context in which it will live.

Designers, to quote Chip Kidd’s 2001 novel “The Cheese Monkeys”, ought to “eat the world with [their] your eyes.” Our Fjord team activates around a brief and scours Accenture globally for the kinds of people who might conceptualise a solution, help to build it, or most importantly – end up using it.

Our design researchers are unafraid to speak to all levels of experience, obtaining as many varied perspectives as possible.

Ascanio, a member of our fjord design studio, presents user insights from hours of skype interviews collected on boards for a five day workshop at The Dock.

Interviews, in person or via video conference, use visual tools and process maps to evoke honest perspectives on the current state of a problem area or context.

They provide comparative views from people with differing motives and drivers, and often expose not just expertise and concrete references, but also human factors which, when accounted for at a very early stage, can really help drive a more successful design process.

Our Accenture Research experts leverage the global Accenture network to quantify market opportunity, identify competitors and potential collaborators, and understand the trends and cutting edge approaches being taken around the world.

The great news is that these processes are infinitely compatible, and when you bring the two together in a place like The Dock, a whole new value is realised.

For example, having Accenture Research and other stakeholders sit in on design research interviews helps everyone empathise with the people working in a new industry or sector, but also creates a direct connection with the interview respondents' expansive knowledge of the market, the competition and the best research being done in a sector.

Iana presents market insights and competitor analysis during a workshop at The Dock.

Equally, regular checkpoints between the Accenture Research Team and our Fjord design researchers help arm designers with the right questions to ask, the ability to provoke on what competitors are doing in the market, and to ask educated questions about potential solution areas.

We may typically speak directly with 10-20 people in our research effort and do competitive analyses on several companies in marketplaces around the world.

Combining these approaches, both Fjord and Accenture Research can and do provide a provocative frame around a problem that could not be achieved separately.

Here at The Dock, we play the learnings back at the beginning of a design workshop driving alignment across diverse project teams, provoking innovation and highlighting complexity early.

Interested in finding out more about the work we do at The Dock? You can discover more here.

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