Taking the idea for a walk
It has been a bit quiet here at the blog for a while, but, you know, blog-silence often means lot’s of things happening underneath the surface. This subsurface bustle — let’s just call it The Perpetual Corporate Reorganisation phenomenon — has resulted in a new “home”. We are now part of a newly established department in Ericsson’s research organisation called “Management and Operation of Complex Systems”. (Earlier we were in a department called “Services and Software”). Complex systems are possibly almost anything and everything and human experiences, strategies, behaviours and perceptions related to complexity is (still) particularly super interesting. For us anyway. We’re excited, so stay tuned.
Anyhow. That was just a brief catch-up.
Since this marks a kind of restart I thought I'd say something about what we do and how we work. Since we don't do so much "UX" as in designing user interfaces, but rather explores a bigger picture from a human experience point of view, what we actually do is a question we're constantly trying to explain to different people. One current explanation is that we do design-driven technology research for unimagined outcomes. While that may be a bit too fluffy for some, or even a little on the pretentious side, it's not just an euphemism for some artistic folks drifting around for "inspiration" (which is cool too, but not really what we do). Another way to say the same might be that we do semi-structured explorative research and concept development using design thinking and -doing as a means to generate innovative ideas as well as critical thinking. Telecommunications technology is of course the keel of everything we do, but we typically don't think so much in terms of problem/solution as we focus on finding good questions, narratives and loosely associative patterns.
One specific approach is to work together with selected research partners, either internally or externally (as with BERG, Keio, Fabrica and others). In these projects we bring a topic or a half-baked idea, vision or technology to someone who we think can add unique and different perspectives. By colliding someone else's ideas with ours, whatever we brought with us becomes something more, something slightly or entirely different.
Afterwards we "decode" the outcome, meaning that we translate and adapt the outcome to Ericsson's internal context, scope and strategies. If possible, we try to represent it as something tangible (prototypes, mock ups, performances or visualisations etc.). We firmly believe that when people have an experience and can relate to an idea or concept on an emotionally as well as intellectually level, the idea/concept will inform, inspire and influence in a very powerful way. Much more than any slide-deck can ever do anyway.
There are certain flavours of inherent complexity in this which I often find myself trying to explain to others, well aware that I'm trying to reduce holistic stuff into identifiable items, which by definition isn't possible. But I usually try anyway.