Preparing for the Game

Why It Works

This technique is one of many that falls under the broad category of ethnographic research. Ethnographic research is an incredibly powerful way of understanding your customer, but it comes with a catch: it is hard to observe your customer in such a way that your observations don't change how they work. It's kind of like the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle[7] applied to people instead of quantum particles. That's why the name of this game emphasizes thinking of yourself as a shadow, so that you can minimize any negative interactions caused by your observations.

[7] The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle was discovered by the physicist Werner Heisenberg in 1927. Among other things, it states that observing (measuring) a particle changes it. This is similar to what happens when you observe people: they tend to change their behavior.

Open-Ended Exploration

Time Frame of Action


Customer Preparation

Market Preparation

Physical Preparation

Sophisticated applications of this technique are based on specially selected customers being asked to perform activities while being studied in specially constructed observation rooms. Although this can be an extraordinary way to uncover hidden requirements, the process is both expensive because of the special room charges and time consuming, and the setting tends to be artificial. Me and My Shadow works best when you can observe your customers in their native habitat (with native guides in tow).

Intuit and Follow-Me-Home

One of the most successful and celebrated programs of ethnographic research is Intuit's "Follow-Me-Home" program, in which employees follow Intuit's customers to their homes, places of work, and other locations in which they use Intuit products and services. This program has been credited with several breakthroughs, including substantial improvements to Quicken and QuickBooks as well as new QuickBase. It is a cost effective and efficient way to gain the understanding you need to create true innovations.

Me and My Shadow shares the same core operating principle as Intuit's Follow-Me-Home: ethnographic observation, with the addition of bringing along another customer who acts as a guide or subject matter expert. This is especially important in B2B and B2P environments, when the creators of the product may not be the experts in its use.

Innovation Games(c) Creating Breakthrough Products Through Collaborative Play
Innovation Games: Creating Breakthrough Products Through Collaborative Play
ISBN: 0321437292
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2006
Pages: 144
Authors: Luke Hohmann

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