PARC Innovations Update (2010 #3)

This is the archive entry for our e-mail newsletter, PARC Innovations Update. [subscribe]

  • Spotlights: The (not so) secret weapon — Just-in-time wisdom with ethnography
  • On the Road: EPIC 2010 — the Do of ethnography
  • Case Studies: Ethnography in Action
  • People: Meet our ethnographers
  • Engage with Us: How do you innovate when you don’t know what you don’t know?

Ethnography is the naturalistic study of human behavior in context. By combining systematic data capture and rigorous analysis to provide a detailed, valid, and nuanced picture of what people do, this method provides a deep understanding of human behavior that goes beyond a traditional market research study. The ethnographic approach is especially useful in uncovering novel solutions to murky or seemingly insurmountable business problems — and can provide relevant, essential insights for designing outstanding products or services, improving and implementing effective organizational systems and practices, and more.

Spotlights: The (not so) secret weapon — Just-in-time wisdom with ethnography

Breakthrough innovation isn’t easy, and the risk is increased when trying to create novel products or markets without precedents. In these innovation endeavors, ethnography is our not-so-secret “weapon”. When undertaken at the right time, new business decision makers, executives, R&D heads, and product designers can discover opportunities and reduce risk by knowing what their target users really do (as opposed to just what they say or think they do). Learn more or catch up on the Ethnography in Industry PARC Forum series we recently hosted. More…

On the Road: EPIC 2010 — the Do of ethnography

“Do” in English represents action, execution, and optimism; in Japanese, “Dō” is a call for growth, maturity, and proficiency, recognizing the past and visualizing the future. At the EPIC 2010 Ethnographic Praxis in Industry conference (August 28-September 1), PARC will be presenting a workshop (“they just don’t get it!”) on strategies, tools, and best practices for stakeholders; a paper on using ethnography and computational tools to study online behavior; and a Pecha Kucha* reflecting on the path of an ethnographic community since pioneering the practice in corporate settings. We’re also giving a talk on ethnography in technologically charged business contexts at the University of Tokyo (August 28). And if you’re in Tokyo, be sure to stop by PARC’s midtown booth (August 31 from 11-8pm). More…

Case Studies: Ethnography in Action

NEC Display Solutions: Going beyond usability and incremental innovation to target new markets
Motorola: Using conversational insights to guide new products
Filoli Center: Designing a more engaging visitor experience
Fortune 500 company: Transforming employee learning and customer service practices
Dai Nippon Printing: Creating a new media business opportunity and technology platform

People: Meet our ethnographers

People work at PARC because they want to transform their ideas and expertise into real-world impact. Our work approach is highly collaborative, and involves assembling custom, multi-disciplinary project teams to address clients’ specific problems. Meet some of our ethnographers

Engage with Us: How do you innovate when you don’t know what you don’t know?

Startups, especially in Silicon Valley, have been glorified as the vehicles of disruption and creative destruction. Yet the reality is, when corporations are innovating incrementally, there’s probably not much difference between acquiring a startup, licensing a patent or two from a university, or building a technology with internal R&D. Because in all these cases, the company clearly knows what it wants…But what happens when the market doesn’t exist yet? Or if there’s a disruptive change in the industry? An incremental venture in a disrupted market yields a delta of 0.1 when a 1.0 change is happening… guest post for Xconomy:
share your insights

We believe that virtual worlds and similar Web 2.0 spaces hint at an emerging mixed or “hybrid” ethnographic methodology that depends on agile collaborations between quantitative researchers, qualitative researchers, and software engineers. And this isn’t just an academic enterprise; applications include…
share your thoughts

The science and art of ethnography is not in a preset formula for these individual methods. It’s in the selection, unique combination, customizations, and analysis – which together can yield the “deep” understanding that in turn inspires innovation, or fosters change. There IS a method to the madness.
join the discussion

I — and I imagine you — have encountered a lot of confusion, and misconceptions, about ethnography. Especially relative to the many methods that can be used to inform technology design.
add your comments


 Editor: Sonal Chokshi

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