When to use?
Observation is a tool that is critical to the improvement and innovation of a new product or service. The tool of observation should be used when looking to make changes to or develop a new product or service that has a human connection. It is a tool that creates many ways to look for ideas that surpass traditional limits. It is important to take a look at the ways that people interact with different products and services. The most important skill of observation is recognizing the human component to every product that is developed. The only way to see the way things really work is to get out there and observe it with our own eyes and ears. Put yoursel in the shoes of your customer and you will have a completely new view of your product. Adjustments from the observations should be reflected in the new product as soon as they are realized and fixed.
How to use?
This process should be viewed as a holistic approach to product design and innovation. This means that the research, design, marketing, and manufacturing departments should all work together in creating a new idea. The chosen group of observers should begin their work right at the source, namely, the customer or user. This group of observers should begin their work with a "dumb" mentality, meaning that they should pretend to have no idea what the function of the product is or the way people use the product. This entails watching and learning the different ways in which people use the current product or those products similar to what is being created. It is important to recognize the human component of product use; what people are thinking as well as why they do the things they do. It is important to remember that people do not always use products in the way that they are intended to be used. By watching these interactions, the observer can find many ways to improve their product, in turn satisfying the needs of the customer.
Besides observing, another way to determine the needs of the customer is to take his/her perspective. In this method, the observer actually becomes the customer and experiences things that only a customer would experience. It is best not to ask the customer too many questions because in many cases they are unsure how to verbalize what they are thinking. In many cases, the jargon overwhelms the customer to such an extreme that they are unable to express their true opinions. This process can also be done on a daily basis by everyone involved in the creation and development of a new idea. Find inspiration for innovation by observing things around you that may be unfamiliar or uncomfortable. Keep a list of things that "bug" you and use those things to improve upon your project. Think of this tool as an overall sensory immersion. Allow your entire self to be engaged in the product and its effects.
Observation is one of the most important tools used in product development and production. It allows the designers the chance to actually observe their product in action. The designers may have had one use in mind for the product when it was created; however, when watching it being put to use, it may have three uses. This observing is invaluable to both the customer and the product designers. The results of the observations are bound to make customers happy and open up new markets. Observation is simply about changing the mind-set of people. There are remarkable products left to be discovered, as long as people keep their eyes open for inspiration.