Observations for understanding

May 20, 2015

We're always talking about how we use insight in everything we do. We have a number of different methodologies for gaining insight. But our number one is real life observations. So many businesses make assumptions about who their customers are and how they might interact with a product or service. But imagine understanding your customer so well that the information allows you to tailor your offering to truly engage and connect and ultimately make your business prosper.

As you know we love all things property so last night we attended the Melbourne Property Outlook event (buyer side) to observe and talk to buyers and investors. Interestingly there weren't a room of Chinese buyers but a mix of people interested in property. Most appeared to be Gen-Y with some older people in the audience too. We spoke to some of the older people and they were looking at investing for their future or empty nesters looking for a change in lifestyle - they were either downsizing or setting themselves up for retirement. Interesting to see they wanted to live close if not in the CBD. The Gen-Y's were mostly coming in late to property but generally established in their careers. They have wanted to buy for some time and are looking for the best properties offering stand out designs (they could show off to their friends), enjoy locale and love as a long term investment. The most common thing was they all valued location, well thought out designs, with close attention to detail and clever use of light and space - both within the apartment and the overall complex, not only enjoying a quality lifestyle, but the likelihood such apartments will increase in value over the longer term.

We watched them write notes when a speaker mentioned anything of value and we could see who in the room could be serious buyers. We looked at what they were wearing, their body language during discussions and the people who were really engaged. We even sneak peeked (not creepy, promise) in our neighbours handbag to find (among other things) a perfectly compartmented bag with notebooks, an array of vitamins and electronic devices (yes plural). It is this observation that makes us think they like to live efficiently, and use technology to enhance their lives.

Observation has allowed us to create so many unique and meaningful brand experiences for our clients. This week we thought we’d share our top three reads that inspire us to practice the art of really seeing. We’d love to hear from you if you have a chance to read any of these or if you have some unusual observation techniques (or looking to learn some).


Chapter three of Tom Kelley’s book, The Art of Innovation, reveals how “Innovation Begins with an Eye.”

Mastering the Five Skills of Disruptive Innovatorsby Jeff Dyer, Hal Gregersen and Clayton M. Christensen

Chapter four, “Discovery Skill #2: Observing,” focuses on how observing has led to disruptive thinking from innovation leaders like Tata in India and Intuit in the USA.

Dieter Rams principles of design and innovation are still considered timeless fundamentals of design theory and practice today