How might researchers do a better job of adapting our methods to fit into participants’ lives and routines?

For Canada’s inaugural service design conference, In Flux (Dec 2016), my colleague Sarah and I presented on digital cultural probes as a means for more seamlessly learning about our research participants’ lives without putting extra burden on them. A short and sweet presentation, we introduced the concept of Bill Gaver’s cultural probes and then shared our approach for taking probes into the digital realm. By using Google Docs and WhatsApp, we argued that digital cultural probes make it easier to understand what people say AND do, make it possible for the researcher to adapt the approach in real-time, and make it fundamentally easier for people to share with us.

I also had the opportunity to give this talk in Stratford at BLND (March 2017), a “one-day business and design party.”

Key words

Research methods, thought leadership, conferences


Sarah Reid


Meeting People Where They’re At (pdf)


Hitting a presentation sweet spot – more tactical and applicable to the work of others’ than a pure case study, easy enough that new practitioners could give the method a try, nuanced/different enough that more experienced practitioners also still got something out of it.


Publicly engaging with the Canadian service design community as a representative of Doblin. At this point in the studio’s development we’d been more focused on getting our practice up and running than on interacting with members of the design community.


Cutting my presentation teeth! First with the safety of Sarah by my side at In Flux and then on my own at BLND.