Understanding the needs of users

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Lex joined our team for his graduation project. It was a rather complex project: how can we have a large community of users collaboratively use, host and distribute durable consumer goods, e.g. a power drill. Through a series of well designed experiments, Lex was able to identify the key success factors that would need to be met to make such a system work.

This project was particularly challenging because, although focus groups seemed to love the idea of such a service, early prototypes did not meet the expectations: people did not use the MVP (Minimum Viable Product) Lex built. Lex had to pivot from ‘mere’ service design to exploring how human behaviour, cultural factors, technology, and business intersect to make a service for ’access over ownership’ work.

This was no easy feat, however, it was this pivot that showed the strength of Lex. Through thorough research and hands-on experiments, Lex as able to understand the needs and concerns of potential users. Based on his own research, and insights from other sources like academic papers, he was able to draft the features and circumstances that would make the product work. Eventually, he produced a concise body of knowledge on the topic of ‘ownerless products’, that to this day still forms a valuable reference in other projects.

As a company mentor for Lex’ graduation project I got to know him as a creative, analytical, resourceful, and hardworking team player. His work ethic is professional, pragmatic and efficient, both in his work as a designer and as a researcher. And although he is a mediocre table tennis player, I bow deep to his skill of crafting astonishing slide decks.

This project was executed at The Incredible Machine, in collaboration with Peerby, the Netherlands largest peer-to-peer lending service. Lex’ work formed the basis for further research and development at The Incredible Machine.

— Marcel Schouwenaar
Partner at The Incredible Machine and Co-organizer at ThingsCon Amsterdam