In my presentations, I explain how people experience products, and how this information can be used for the development of new and innovative offerings. I illustrate the role of the senses (touching, hearing, smelling, tasting and seeing), aesthetics principles, emotions, and product meaning in user-product interactions. In addition, I explain some of the methods that can support experience-driven design processes.
In addition, I provide a series of workshops that are relaxing, inspiring, and a lot of fun! The techniques I use combine methods used in personal development programs (activating intuition) with methods and tools typically used by scientists (organizing knowledge) and designers (creating images, objects, and procedures). The workshops all provide special experiences by themselves and, in addition, they yield important strategic insights for the company. Make working feel like relaxing: Offer your employees a great and memorable experience, and in the meantime boost your innovative potential!
In my workshops I try to make use of people’s full potential. People’s experiences contain different layers, and they have specific abilities for obtaining information from each of these layers and for acting upon this information. Through using different tools and techniques, I try to access all these different layers.
Verbal fluency. Through language we can inform others of what we think, we organize information, and we may try to convince others of our opinion. Thinking helps in analyzing problems and language helps in pinpointing information: As soon as a phenomenon gets a name, it can be identified and will be more easily recognized. However, oftentimes people who talk may get stuck in their individual world of thoughts, without really connecting to the people that surround them. Therefore, it is important to communicate through other means as well.
Sensory richness. By asking people to draw images or to select images and compose a collage, their way of communication becomes richer: an image does not only represent an object, it has a shape, a size, a color, a texture, and so on. Hence, it conveys additional information that may be relevant for the project. Analogously, asking people to select materials, sounds or smells will enhance their expressive repertoire even further to connected experiential domains. In this way, people’s sensory systems will be actively engaged in perceiving, creating, and communicating meaning.
Body intuition. An additional step can be made by actively involving the whole body in these processes. Participants may observe their bodily responses, their gut feelings, their action tendencies. And they can decide to act upon their impulses, to express their feelings, to make movements that seem appropriate in the situation at hand. By making intuitive movements and carefully observing the associated bodily responses in the different actors, we can access an additional layer of intuitive knowledge.
My workshops break with a corporate culture, in which employees sit behind laptops all day long in business meetings, basically checking their email, writing memos, and having video conferences. Although people may be involved in and working on many projects in such a culture, their mind and their attention is never where it should be: the here-and-now. In my workshops, I make sure that participants devote their full attention to the important topic at hand.
The means I use in my workshops try to access people’s full potential. Many creative workshops that other agencies provide tend to be mainly limited to using participants’ cognitive and analytical powers (e.g., brainstorming). However, in order to create inspiring and engaging products, we need to come up with a result that people can relate to, that touches them emotionally, that makes them feel connected intuitively. The workshops help to unravel the emotional connections that your company or brand triggers and we build on these in order to create a proposition that fits with the company and is challenging and inspiring.
The majority of a person’s knowledge is unconscious and is often referred to as intuition or gut feel. In order to release this source of internalized knowledge, I always start a workshop with exercises that allow participants to release the topics that currently occupy their minds, to focus on the workshop theme, and to activate their intuitive powers. Each workshop typically follows the next procedure:
Preparation: participants receive an assignment about one week before the actual workshop. This helps them to get prepared and adopt a desirable mind set. They are instructed to wear comfortable clothes in which they can move around comfortable and that may get a bit dirty.
At the start of the workshop, participants first get acquainted with the people in the group. Often, the homework assignment is used as part of the introduction.
The workshop starts with a relaxation exercise (e.g. meditation), which is followed by an intuitive exercise (e.g. collage making or guided visualization). The results of this exercise are first processed individually and then discussed in small groups. The group results are subsequently presented to the large group.
The outcomes of the exercise are then related to the question at hand: What do these outcomes tell us about the question of interest. In what way do they provide insights or do they suggests follow-up or solutions? The results are organized using mind mapping and visual sketching.
In the workshops, we look forward and work on the company’s future. I preferably work with multidisciplinary groups of participants that all know different parts of the company. This heterogeneity in the group is likely to result in a sophisticated overall view on the matters at hand, and a rich end result. During the workshop, I try to give personal attention to each participant’s input, so that all different views come together in the end result.
In my opinion, creativity can only grow in an atmosphere of tranquility, attention for nuance, mutual respect and trust. Everyone should feel free to share the matters he or she thinks are important for the topic at hand. Therefore, I pay considerable attention to creating the conditions that are desirable for having a fruitful and engaging workshop. Ideally, the workshop should be held outside the company premises, so that participants can take some distance from their daily tasks, and can adopt a more reflective attitude.
Recent developments and new insights will be posted regularly on my blogspot.