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Hidden In Plain Sight by Jan Chipchase (April 8 2013) Unknown Binding – January 1, 1994
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This book will provide product designers with a lot more depth and breadth to consider when designing their wares by conducting useful primary research. A truly helpful and refreshingly not a prescriptive guide.
For anyone not familiar with design research or Mr. Chipchase's extensive work in this field Hidden in Plain Sight is certainly a 5 star book. For me, however, as a designer doing some similar work within my narrow corporate business field, and thus having followed Mr. Chipchase's blog for years already, the book does not offer that many new insights. It occasionally felt like a recap of the blog's highlights, which is not a bad thing by any means; It's great to have them all collected in one volume. Just that the wow-effect is a bit dulled, making it a 4 star for me.
Its all about people and what they do, not the products.
Top international reviews
With the call of the likes of Apple and amazon - from 'creating fantastic products with the client at the core' to 'customer obsession' - the understanding that the clients' needs are core to great products is getting ever more prominent. Finally.
Few, on the other hand, few people and companies understand how to get insight on the underlying needs driving customers. As Apple knows, you can not simply ask a client what he wants. You also can not simply show the client a product and wait for his verdict. It requires a lot of knowledge, technique and effort to get a real understanding of the client.
Understanding the customers is what everybody now tries to do, at least when he is serious about a sustainable business model and not about short term rip off. But there's a long way to go from ticking the claim off on a power point slide as an alibi or for simply greasing your career to a real deep understanding of the client. How far this way can be and just how deep this understanding can be, is impressively - and entertainingly - made clear by this book.
Now, how you get the best insights is actually to - more or less- live or be immersed with your client. But that, again, show to be hard if you are a well operated company. If your companies' focus is on excellence and efficiency, giving people the leeway to be out at the client, looking for his triggers is a hard thing to do and it does not happen very often in .
Jan Chipchase specializes in exactly that - traveling the world to find out what is going on. With his teams he is roaming the streets of the world, visiting people in their homes, finding out their motives. He is well equipped with broad psychological knowledge, but even more astonishing is how Jan Chipchase can rip away the veil from everyday observations and thus explain the deliberate choices made by people, based on their everyday live, culture, value and pressures. The he can explain what's going on may is only matched in the last years by how Kahneman explains our thinking reflexes in 'Thinking fast and slow' - and that is expressive.
The storytelling is also sometimes funny and entertaining and the examples brought up often surprising but then, after some explaining - things really are made clear, which really has the effect that things were just hidden in plain sight.
The best part of the book is that (while your mouth may be watering to sometimes go on such a research) you do not have to change your life to benefit from this book. Jan Chipchase shares enough experiences, examples and knowledge that - if you work in product exploration and development - this book is enough to change your perspective on depth of understanding. Also, you can get some hints on how to integrate some of his knowledge or methods in your practice. In the back of the books there is also some advice on how to go on such research trip on your own. Adventure times! But as I said - the book itself is a revelation and eye opener hoe close you have to get to really learn.
Truth lies on the streets, Jan Chipchase went there all the way and invites you to share what he learned and how he learned it. A great thank you for that learning opportunity!
P.S.: Travelers are wise men and as jan Chipchase travels a lot, he also often points out that value systems are not as fixed across cultures as we often think. In these parts, simply sharing the observations, without judging is a great way to show the inexplicable diversity of what's going on. Diversity that you can not simulate in a closed group on the white board. And also diversity that you have to experience to believe.
This book helps you to see in a more deeper way, so you can ignite innovation opportunities.
Not only you and your environment but beyond the cultural boundaries that we have in our world.