We start by observing.
We observe the world around us, the situations we find ourselves and our users in. We look at the market our organisation operates in, and at the others who operate there too. And societal and cultural trends too.
But we don’t observe passively. We observe with curiosity and intent. We are looking for unexplored opportunities, for unsolved problems.
Then we research.
We want to understand our observations. We need to understand our environment and how others understand it. We want to know what effects the things we observed, what makes them how they are.
Which leads us to hypotheses.
How could we change what we see? Where could we intervene in the system? What if we changed that user’s behaviour. If we do this, we think that will happen.
Next, we experiment.
We test those hypotheses in the real world. We try out ways of helping people to do things differently, or do different things. We make changes to systems and we measure the consequences.
And then we analyse.
We look for patterns. We see the cause and effect. We connect and correlate this thing with that thing.
Which leads us to conclusions.
Now we know. We know with varying degrees of validity, and never with absolute certainty, but we know more than we did before. Now we have something else to observe.