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The Field Study Handbook Hardcover – 2017
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Travel anywhere, make sense of the world, and make a difference. The how-to, why-to guide to running international field research to inform and inspire product, brand, strategy, policy and communications. Described as "The canonical classic reference for cross-cultural research" and "A blueprint of the future".
Top customer reviews
Physically, it's *massive* — the sticker price may be high, but you're getting most of it back in beautiful materials.
But what are you really buying besides a giant book? You're buying all of Jan's brain.
This is a systematic transfer of his twenty+ years researching, running field studies, being out in the thick of it — in the fields of Myanmar, the villages of Nigeria, the slums of India, the markets of Afghanistan — being a full-time curious, empathetic, design focused, information hungry researcher. Decades of sitting in the background, watching, having as little presence as possible, respecting those people and places he visited, finding nuggets of insight and turning those nuggets into full-fledged design responses.
Really, though, this is a book that teaches you how to be a global citizen. It teaches you how to move through the world with a deep admiration for the differences between people and places that make life feel valuable, and — at least before the AI and robots take over — represent the patchwork beauty that is being a human.
It is a massive 'handbook' and yet each page is light enough to consume with a sense of contemplation.
Too often books of this nature, attempting to provide coverage of a large topic, are densely packed and reading them is an unpleasant chore. This book is both informative and delightful - it expresses the principles of design that it discusses - it is harmonious.
And of course its damn useful - were you to be engaging in the type of work that Studio D undertakes - this provides the right frame of mind for approaching that work.
This handbook is a (quite literally) a massive collection of reflections, tips, and tricks of the trade; each chapter imparting its wisdom and practical guidance for the benefit of aspiring and established field researchers. The sheer amount of information gathered in one place makes it all worthwhile, as the book overflows with the type of insights one would hope to collect through years of experience working in the field, attending workshops, or scouring blogs and publications.
If you are running a research/design studio or team, this book will help you to design, sell, staff and execute studies that push organizations to search far beyond the "low hanging fruit", towards deep and long-lasting insights.
There are few researcher/designers on earth with anything close to the breadth and depth of experience Jan brings to the subject, and he has been very generous in materializing his guiding principles, methods and stories in such detail.
After finishing TFSH, I now completely forgive and understand Jan's trading of the time spent writing his weekly dispatches of the past for the heads-down focus required to create a book of this magnitude. This is truly the comprehensive “how-to, why to” guide to running international research projects, and the attention to detail and quality of the illustrations is jaw-dropping. This book is packed with direction for every conceivable aspect of running a study in an unfamiliar context. It goes far deeper into methods than other single-topic design books, and it covers a far greater breadth (particularly the chapters on Interviews, Sensemaking/Synthesis, and (Measuring) Impact, which few other researchers have written publicly about). Jan doesn’t just address the tactical, either. This book plumbs the moral, ethical, and philosophical depths of international design research in ways I’ve yet to read anywhere else. I’ve helped run design research projects in ten countries, and I still learned a great deal from reading this book cover-to-cover and know that the included templates and case studies will prove useful going forward. I wish I’d had this book when I began my career leading a research team in Myanmar seven years ago, and I’m glad I’ll have it to reference going forward.
Finally, although I am admittedly obsessed with traveling as lightly as possible, I’ve still dragged my heavily annotated copy of this nearly four-pound book along with me on several week-long research trips for my team and myself to reference while we’re in-field (and have been quite thankful that I did).