For years I have been pondering the similarities and contradictions among the ways of coming up with new ideas for products. "Design research," as this phase is called, offers a wide range of methods. The marketing community has long championed focus groups, surveys, and questionnaires, whereas the user-centered community favors observation, contextual analysis, and ethnography. Each method has its proponents and detractors. I have also pondered the emphasis by most practitioners, abetted by many product-design courses, to invent novel products and services to fill the needs discovered through whatever form of design research the group practices. This pondering led…
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