Service Design Melbourne

The role of mindset in user centred design

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By Zaana Howard & Simon Lawry

Presented at: UX Australia 2014 – Sydney, 26-29 August 2014

Currently, there is a big focus on the ‘how’ and the ‘what’ of user experience design. The how is the method, the what is the tool. We also talk about the ‘why’, which is the value proposition of customer/citizen experience design to the organisation. What we don’t spend much time thinking about is the ever present aspect that affects all of these things, which is mindset.

Mindset is something that affects how we approach the methods and tools available to us as practitioners. It affects how we practice and engage as practitioners, with our team members, clients and customers.

While working on a strategic design piece for a large telecommunications provider, we uncovered a startling insight. The insights emerged through a combination of futuring, observational research and cultural probe studies. We worked with customers that represented the client’s mass market and also those we referred to as ‘edge users’ who were professional futurists and trend makers themselves, both locally and internationally. The interesting insight was that there were two predominant mindsets that sat behind people’s expectations and values. We referred to these mindsets as generative and receiving.

People with generative mindsets believe they have a say in creating their desired future. They believe that through their choices and actions, they are deliberately acting in accordance with their vision of the future. People with receiving mindsets believe that they are better served by responding effectively and appropriately to the circumstances that life creates for them. They believe through careful consideration and planning, they can navigate themselves appropriately through murky waters of ambiguity.

After noticing these mindsets in the people we researched, the two mindsets became more and more obvious to us in our day-to-day interactions. We could identify clients who had a generative mindset, and those that had a receiving mindset. We could notice shifts in our own mindsets and noticed the difference in our practice when we returned to a generative mindset. We have realised that the generative mindset forms a fundamental part of a ‘designerly’ way of working.

These mindsets affect how we design workshops, iterate with clients and customers, synthesise and analyse information and ultimately, affects the quality and trajectory of our work.

At the end of this talk, you will be able to reflect on which mindset you bring, and observe in others, as you craft customer experiences.

Full Audio, Slides & Photos (UX Australia)

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