Given our familiarity with workplaces and the routines of everyday life, we don’t see and reflect on what’s really going on. Focused observation is a powerful tool.

How To

  1. Think about and decide what environment or context you’d like to spend time observing.
  2. Take a notebook, pen, and a simple note taking framework of AEIOU (Activities, Environment, Interactions, Objects, and Users).
  3. Find a place to sit and observe without being in the way. Don’t hide, but don’t impede. Let the people know you’re there to learn, not to evaluate.
  4. As you observe the action, note what grabs your attention and what raises questions in your mind.
  5. Sketch out the environment. Make a list of things for a specific category. Count things. What’s interesting?
  6. Take pictures and record video. Watch the video and pin up pictures. In reviewing, you’ll often see things you didn’t notice the first time.