The Importance of Involving Stakeholders

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At Edmire, we actively involve people from outside of our organisation in the research process. After all, a designer can’t work in isolation… We’re constantly in need of external input to gain valuable insight, knowledge and feedback on specific topics, problems and opportunities.

 

Why do we involve others?

We feel and believe that the most valuable insight comes from interacting with others. Of course, we gather information, read books, browse articles and read statistics. But first and foremost, we like to receive input from outside to achieve a deeper understanding and to inspire us during the design process. How do other people look at things? What kind of problems do they encounter? What do they want or need? What brings a smile to their faces and what annoys them? What do they value in life?


Whom do we involve?

Generally speaking, everyone who might come into contact with a new brand, product and/or service is a valuable stakeholder to integrate into our process. The end-user is the most obvious person to involve, because after all, it is them who will have the most meaningful interaction with the end-result we will design. They can be an expert with a deep understanding of a certain topic. Or they can simply be someone who is affected by the problem in a passive way.

Imagine that we’re going to design a new toy for children whom are diagnosed with autism. First and foremost, we should interact with the children themselves, see how they behave and react in order to get insight into their daily lives. But we could also involve their brothers and sisters, the (grand)parents, the kindergarten teachers, the children’s doctors, a toy specialist… 

The list goes on and on. Everyone has a different point of view. The whole range of  ideas is extremely valuable for us as designers to truly understand the topic at hand and to come up with clever solutions.

How do we involve stakeholders?

There are different ways to involve stakeholders in the creative process, ranging from a passive to an active approach. We can reach a large specific group of people through an online survey to get as many responses as needed. Likewise, we can conduct an in-person interview to get a wider point of view. Another option is to get different people around the table and have a multi-vocal discussion on a certain topic.

These techniques involve a certain level of interaction with people. But we can also approach it more passively. An example of this is to simply observe people who are active in the field that is relevant to the chosen topic. Or we can try to put ourselves in other people’s shoes by re-enacting their experience and by exercising  our sense of empathy. Another possibility is to give relevant stakeholders instructions, like keeping a journal or making pictures and videos of certain things. This allows us to get insight in their daily activities without interfering too much.

Workshops are the most active form of collaboration in which we gather different stakeholders needed to facilitate a co-creation session. The goal is to work together and to come up with relevant and inventive solutions or ideas for the chosen topic.

Integrating stakeholders during the whole process.

At all stages of our design process, we try to involve relevant stakeholders. During our research, we try to gather as much external information as possible. But stakeholders can still play a role afterwards. They’re capable of coming up with creative ideas when given proper guidance. Once formed, we introduce these concepts to a larger group of stakeholders. Then we evaluate the feedback that they have given and select the concept(s) that has the most added value. And at the end of the process, a final prototype can be used to see how people interact with it, to then finetune the final product and have it ready for implementation.

The ‘Edmire user research database’

In order for this to work, we created an internal ‘user research database’. This is a list of people we can get in touch with to involve them into our process. Want to help us out? Interested in what we’re working on? Eager to give your insights on topics you feel passionate about or care for? You might be our inspiration to come up with future innovative and sustainable products/services...


Please let us know if you want to join this database! Send en email to jens@edmire.be.