i: Note: This term is sometimes credited to the American philosopher and management professor C. West Churchman, who wrote a guest editorial in the journal Management Science in 1967 in which he responded to Rittel’s use of “wicked problems” in a recent seminar.
ii: Editor’s note: Although focus groups have arguably suffered from becoming closely associated with commercial research, the method has a strong, and ongoing, record of being used in academic communications research. “It is now recognized as a potentially high-quality approach in its own right rather than a mere precursor to survey work. Indeed, group interviews are the cornerstone of much audience reception research” (Jenny Kitzinger, “Audience and Readership Research,” in The SAGE Handbook of Media Studies, ed. Philip Schlesinger John D. H. Downing Denis McQuail and Ellen Wartella (Thousand Oaks, CA.: Sage, 2004), p.174). One of the core responsibilities of a focus group moderator is to ensure individuals do not dominate proceedings or suppress fellow participants.
iii: Editor’s note: It is worth noting that this approach utilizes numerous elements developed in academic media audience research. Among the most famous audience studies were those conducted by David Morley. (David Morley, The “Nationwide” Audience: Structure and Decoding (London: British Film Institute, 1980); David Morley, Family Television: Cultural Power and Domestic Leisure (London: Comedia, 1980)) Challenging the artificiality of forcing participants to consume media texts in constructed research environments, Morley became interested in the home as a site of media consumption. This led him to pursue more naturalistic research methods that facilitated the study of the “living room politics” that contribute to people’s consumption and interpretation of media texts.
iv: The interest in analysing data for thematic similarities and anomalies is another similarity with academic audience research. The emphasis on individuals is, however, a notable departure, as academic researchers typically seek to reach a theoretical saturation point before drawing any conclusions.
v: I always ask designers: Why the reliance on Post-its and index cards? The best answer I ever got was from game designer Eric Zimmerman at the NYU Game Center. “Sometimes thinking is good to do kinesthetically,” he told me. “It’s seeing how the parts relate. If you embody the system as something that is changeable, you will think you have the ability to change it. When it’s a list on a piece of paper, it seems like it’s done. But if you can move it with your fingers, you’ll think, ‘Oh, how can I make this better?’”
vi: It’s worth noting that the Hasso Platner Institute of Design at Stanford, known as the d.school, is different than the Stanford Design Program where Rolfe Faste and Robert McKim did their groundbreaking work. The d.school is run by Faste and McKim’s former student and colleague, David Kelley, who founded IDEO. It does not offer degrees, but rather classes that students in any college can take. In other words, the d.school is focused on design thinking.