Inspiring Ideo Method Cards









I bought myself this cool box filled with cards. On the front of each card there is a picture that makes you curious, the back shows a method that can be used as a source of inspiration during an innovation project. Ideo is an organisation that helps companies to innovate. They explain their success as a design and innovation firm by their habit of placing people at the centre of the design/innovation process. These cards show some possible ways of doing that. The cards each belong to one of four categories: 'learn' 'look' 'ask' 'try'. And that's what makes these cards so useful and interesting I think: all methods actually rely on powerful research activities. Observing ('look') and Interviewing ('ask') how people do certain things, how they experience them, is just so interesting and it enables you to really understand new points of view. Analysing these results ('learn') will lead you to the design of an experiment ('try') that will help you to move along in the innovation process.

Although many of the cards are focused on the design of products, they offer interesting starting points for all kinds of research activities. They might be used as methods that help you in an innovation or design process, they might as well serve as a perfect toolbox for the innovative researcher. Some examples:

  • Narration
    HOW As they perform a process or execute a specific task, ask participants to describe aloud what they are thinking.
    WHY This is a useful way to reach users' motivations, concerns, perceptions, and reasoning.
    EXAMPLE In order to understand how food is incorporated into people's daily routines, the IDEO-team asked people to describe what they were thinking while eating.
  • Personal inventory
    HOW Document the things that people identify as important to them as a way of cataloging evidence of their lifestyles.
    WHY This method is useful for revealing people's activities, perceptions, and values as well as patterns among them.
    EXAMPLE For a project to design a handheld electronic device, the IDEO team asked people to show and describe the personal objects they handle and encounter every day.