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Author:Oksana Kachur & Peter Jones
Edited by Christine Keene
“Computeritis” is a growing problem. The computer is a logic machine that only makes visible the conditions that existed before it. People, on the other hand, are logical but also perceptive.
Dennis Schliecher, Director of User Experience architecture with Sears, argues that we are becoming increasingly blind to everything that is perception (i.e., the event), choosing instead to focus on the facts (i.e., after the event). The tremendous amount of computer information may be shutting out access to reality (Drucker, 2007), while our reliance on computer logic and computer language is offering up information that is not capturing events as they occur. The truly important events on the outside are not the trend; they are the changes in the trends. Such changes, however, have to be perceived; they cannot be counted, defined or classified by figures.
Rapid communication between people, and the speedy generation of ideas is the answer. Bodystorming is an innovation tool that helps to create stories or themes out of the things we observe around us—the things we perceive—and translate this knowledge into rapid communication and generation of ideas around an envisioned scenario. According to Jones (2013), “It allows the team and stakeholders to experience some of the functions and working relationships of proposals, either during their formation or after prototyping.” It is also a way to allow people to be people by working together in tight Generate – Do – Learn cycles to engage one another in simulating experiences and processes by designing them through joint acting and improve.
Traditionally, bodystorming fits into all phases of the innovation process.
- Understand-“Where to look”
Issue Discovery and identification
- Observation- “Re-creations”
Share Observations from the field
- Visualization- “Bodystorming”
Doing generative work: exploring contexts to develop new ideas and uses
- Evaluation and Refinement- “Debugging”
Building scenarios for use; discovering hidden nuances
- Implementation – “Informance”
Creating physical performances to communicate developed ideas.
In contrast to the above sequence, Dennis Schleicher argues that Bodystorming should be one of the first steps taken in the problem definition stage—in the SFI Innovation Process, the Frame Phase. Dennis argues for bodystorming to be renamed Epistemic Embodied Collaborative Cognition, or E2C2, because unlike the traditional uses of bodystorming, Dennis is trying to create a movement around new uses for this technique. The purpose is to move this powerful technique from a user-needs centred approach to one that can be used for rapidly expressing and communicating ideas and recommendations (see the chart below for contrast table).
Used for rapid communication and generation of ideas or recommendations around an envisioned scenario. Scenarios or recommendations could be around organizational situations or behaviours, city issues, etc. For example:
- How has transport changed?
- How has water use changed?
- How has garbage collection changed?
- How has fast food changed?
- How has entertainment changed?
These scenarios would be bodystormed as a group with more than one person. “Communication” would occur at the level of body language, kinestics, gesturing and promemics. In other words, this is a very high context communication.
1) Domain – Before a bodystorming session, conduct a preliminary observation and documentation. From the documents, interesting phenomena are selected and edited into readable design questions. A design question would represent the phenomenon as a problem in the events, experiences and/or practices of the users.
2) Venue – A location would be selected to resemble or be similar enough to the original environment.
3) Session – Bodystorm groups over five people are fine—even up to 8 people works well.
- Everyone needs to have a role.
- Create props, including large cards that identify roles. Create thought-bubble cards to show thoughts vs. saying or doing. Your props can have feelings and thoughts, and they can talk.
- Have a narrator, or color commentator explain things to observers.
- The narrator can pretend it is like watching TV and use a TV controller to stop play, rewind, or fast-forward.
- When your group is working through its presentation, try to approach it with the spirit of improv’s “Yes, and . . . ” rather than “No, but . . . “
- Perform at least two skits showing a before and after service scenario.
4) Record – Based on the discussion, the group would write down ideas as scenarios, depicting the user, a problem and solution to problem in a story-like format with drawings and written text.
Drucker, P. F. (2007). The Essential Drucker. Oxford: Elsevier Ltd.
IDEO. (2009). Human Centred Design Toolkit (2nd ed). Retrieved from http://www.ideo.com/work/item/human-centered-design-toolkit/
Jones, P. H. (2013). Design For Care, 155-60. Brooklyn, NY: Rosenfeld Media.
Schleicher, D. J. (n.d.). Tibetan Tailor. Retrieved from http://tibetantailor.com/
Schleicher, D. J. (n.d.). Publications and Presentations. Retrieved from http://www.dennisschleicher.com/Dennis_Schleicher/Publications_&_Presentations.html
Schleicher, D. J., Jones, P. H., & Kachur, O. (2010) Bodystorming as embodied designing. Interactions, 17, 47-51.
Oulasvirta, A., Kurvinen, E., & Kanjaunen, T. (2003). Understanding Contexts by Being There: Case Studies in Bodystorming . Personal Ubiquitous Computing, 7, 125-134.