Innovation Starts with Hello.
June 04, 2018

Innovation Starts with Hello.


A common myth on the topic of innovation is that there’s just no time for it. It’s hard to get a group of people in a room, with clear minds, to really focus and come up with the next idea. Other deadlines wait, schedules are packed, and we’re all just too busy to get to that visionary state of mind.

While all of that may actually be true – the real problem lies in the notion that innovation will happen from the inside out. Sure there are internal drivers that can help you achieve innovation – curiosity, a fail-first mentality, perhaps even obsession. But even with these things in place, the best ideas aren’t created when groups of people sit around and think. The best ideas come from actively engaging with and talking to those you serve. Innovation starts with Hello.

Starting conversations and working directly with your audiences is how you will uncover new insights. Until you truly know the way your audience interacts with your product or service, and perhaps more importantly, the motivations behind those interactions, it’s nearly impossible for you to continuously grow and improve.

This is why we practice human-centered design at SmallBox. With a commitment to design research – a type of research rooted in empathizing with real people and understanding their unique environments and contexts – we are constantly striving to keep the end-user at the core of all solutions and ideas. We co-design alongside them, test and iterate directly with them, and ultimately work to ensure the final outcome is truly something that will serve them.

When was the last time you spoke directly to a customer?

Here are three methods we commonly use to spark conversations, ideas, and opportunities:

  • Interviews: while one of the more common methods used for audience research, an interview can make or break your research based on your preparation and approach. Check out our how-to for conducting a successful interview.
  • Diary Study: this design research method allows you to collect input from audiences over a set period of time. It’s particularly useful if you’re working in a sensitive problem space or are logistically unable to speak directly to your audiences. Create a series of workbook pages, filled with questions, prompts, and space for the unknown.
  • Observation: Whether your offering is a service or a product, observing the way your audiences engage or interact with it can generate insights and additional questions you didn’t even know to ask. Be sure to conduct the study in user’s natural environment, and follow the A-E-I-O-U framework for documentation.

Once you have selected your research method(s), take a look at our suggested mindsets to help ensure a successful conversation!