First explore, then focus – #Hothouse12

Posted by on Jun 13, 2012 in Ethno Thinks | No Comments

As I mentioned in my previous post, we have moved into the third semester of the Design Ethnography Master’s program and I have traveled back to the States for my final Hothouse Summer research project. Since the official kick-off on May 1st, time has flown by and after the first month, which we consider the “explore-phase” June 1st has come and gone and with it, the begining of the second stage – the “focus phase.”

While I am enjoying some much needed Vitamin D and seeing friends and family, it will be strange to not be able to stop in the DE studio and see this crazy gang after working together so closely these past 9 (very intense but fun) months… (*sentimental sniff*)



My team managed to get a great start to the project as our client was very engaged and involved. We were able to narrow down our research topic and set-up our project schedule within the first couple of weeks. Since then, I have arrived in the US and am traveling to NYC (yeay!) for my field work this week. Lesley has arrived in Shanghai and Paola will be travelling to Paris at the begining of next week. We are actively recruiting participants and are continuing our research and reading as we prepare for the field.



Below is a brief summary of the goal of this study, what we have done so far and the goal for the next phase of this project.




A three-continent, multi-cultural study of how busy families living and working in mega cities prioritize their time around their shopping needs and balance that with family time activities.


Project Goal Overview

Where we want to get - The goal of this study is to unpack the concept of family life in modern, busy families living and working in mega cities and it’s relation to shopping needs. The focus of this research project will be on young families including couples, single parents, families with children, or families composed of adult relatives with a particular focus on the family decision makers. The research will investigate how the network of services that support the household’s basic shopping connect to family activities in different cultural contexts.

Explore Phase Overview

Where we are - During the Explore Phase of this Project we have worked with the client to uncover what interests them to create a research focus and project plan. We have completed extensive desk research into the research topic, surrounding topics, and the client and main competitors. We have also spent time on gaining a better understanding of additional methodological issues surrounding a project such as this. We have created a bibliography of our initial desk research and are continuing the desk research throughout the project. Additionally, the team has created the necessary ethics documentations along with templates and protocols needed for the field work during the Explore Phase. The team members have traveled to the respective fieldwork sites and have began the process of participant recruiting.

Process Overview

How we got here - The focus during the Explore phase has been on project planning, desk research, and participant recruiting. We have explored the needs and concerns of the client to be able to align the project aims with our client’s core concerns. We have investigated topics surrounding the concept of “family” and “household” and considered it in different cultural contexts.

Forward thinking – Focus Phase

Next steps - Moving into June and the beginning of July, we move into the Focus Phase. In this phase we will continue our desk research and start our field research to focus on digging deep into the field for relevant, actionable insight. We continue to consider the deliverable format with the client and make sure we check that the project is progressing aligned with the client’s needs. The main goal of this phase is to immerse ourselves into the field by applying a variety of ethnographic research methods.

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