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Background[edit | edit source]

Currently, what is understood as innovation is undergoing a fundamental change. Innovations are no longer developed exlusively ‘inside-out’ from the point of view of a company or a service provider, but increasingly ‘outside-in’ from the point of view of the user or in general the stakeholder. Keywords of interest in this context are ‘user centered design’ and ‘co-creation’. The second term especially expresses that users are involved in the value creation process at a much more active rate than they were in classic market research of the past. This involves partnering with users to find solutions in a cyclically repetitive process, whereby needs are uncovered one step at a time, by generating ideas, developing concepts and coming up with preliminary solutions, which in turn are then measured based on the needs of the users. This process goes on until a solution has been found that is satisfactory to the potential users.

Concept[edit | edit source]

The purposes of a Living Lab is (Erikson et al, 2005; CoreLabs, 2007; European Commission, 2009):

  • to uncover behavioural patterns and gaps in innovation based on observations in real-life situations;
  • to recognize what needs to be done early by interacting with users directly
  • to make use of the users’ creative potential and do so preferably in the earliest stage of the innovation process, not during final testing;
  • to develop new solutions in a collaborative process using artifacts such as drawings, models, prototypes, etc.;
  • to validate ideas for solutions and business models at an early stage.

A Living Lab can be seen as a methodology with which various stakeholders (end users, developers, decision makers, etc.) are involved at a very early stage in the innovation process.

Methods[edit | edit source]

The following method involves observing potential users (terzScouts) to discover how they make use of a prototype or a finished product. It is based on an in-depth discussion in a workgroup consisting of six terzScouts and on a detailed study of available literature on the subject matter has proven to be the most feasible approach. The test persons are asked to find solutions to typical tasks that need to be performed when using the web site. Typically, in addition to the test person, there is also at least one other person who moderates the process and one who observes it (keeping at log). What you must keep in mind is that the moderator must not affect the process.
To roughly describe the process, a usability test involves taking the following steps:

Organizing the observation

  • Who will be observed? (inhomogeneous group of potential users)
  • What will be observed? (characteristic tasks and activities)
  • Which behaviour will be observed? (natural behaviour, forced behaviour)
  • Who should be included in the observation process? (developers, marketing professionals, etc.)

Infrastructure needs

  • A comfortable room with a PC and two chairs (test person, moderator)
  • A screen recorder and a microphone (a program that records the mouse movements and comments)
  • A screen sharing programm and speakers for the observation room
  • Lunch and drinks for the observers

Conducting the tests

  • Open questions to users (“Why are you doing that right now?”)
  • An observation log with predefined questions (What problems do the users seem to have when using the product?)
  • In some cases, recording sound (thinking out loud) and movements with the mouse (Which movements is the user making? Why is the user hesitating?)

Evaluation and interpretation

  • What are the most important problems in the use of the product?
  • Which product functions appear to have the most urgent need for improvement?

Follow up

  • Discussion and brainstorming (in some cases including a select group of users)