We use techniques from design and the social sciences to...

Envision Futures

We help you or your users Co-Imagine futures and experiences that are deeply grounded in current realities and latent needs.

First, we use a structured approach to uncover people’s current realities, their current unmet needs and desires, and their frameworks for meaning. Then we guide them through a process of imagining their lives as altered by emerging forces and technologies. The data from this is synthesized with trends and signals data from foresight work to spot and articulate opportunities for our clients, coupled with frameworks for action.

Examples

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Life with autonomous vehicles

An international automotive company wanted to understand how to design a great user experience for future autonomous vehicles. In the US, Germany, and China we visited people in their homes, rode with them as they drove us through their regular routines, and explored their mental models of driving and transportation. Together with our client, we developed special tools to help our participants think deeply about how autonomous vehicles might affect their lives. At the end of fieldwork in each market, we invited some of these participants to a co-creation session where they enacted the scenarios they had imagined, embodying the ways they would like these future experiences to feel. 

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Future of facilities management

A major facilities management corporation recognized that the transition to internet-connected HVAC systems would present new opportunities (and challenges). SonicRim conducted global ethnographic research with facilities managers and developed a framework for building services that utilize new technologies as well as big data to operate far more efficiently. We then helped a team of executives and engineers from around the world to co-create, plan, and prioritize projects.

Improve Experiences

We help you deeply understand the experiences of your customers and identify opportunities for iterative improvements as well as disruptive innovations.

Whether it’s food, physical products, screens or ephemeral experiences, we have decades of expertise refining methods that allow us to spot problems and find opportunities. Using a mix of obsessively detailed contextual or lab research with playful prototyping, we find concrete steps you can take to improve your products and services. And when needed we create frameworks that allow you to redefine your offerings towards more impactful outcomes for your users and customers, and your business.

Examples

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Designing for trust across cultures

A major e-commerce platform needed to understand how to communicate to users from different cultures with different understandings about authenticity, trust signals, and branding. We conducted research with different user types in the US, Europe and China, exploring what signals each user type relied on, their mental models and conceptions about authenticity, and how each type responded to signals from the others. We then had users respond to prototypes. We used all this data to develop frameworks to help our client communicate better with their users, and help their users better understand each other. 

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Finding the perfect form factor

A major tech company developing high-end phones wanted to ensure that they were providing the most desirable experiences in the market. Starting with exploratory global research, SonicRim found high-level design attributes that helped guide the initial design. We then designed additional qualitative research to provide consumer guidance on design language, size, shape, CMF, physical touchpoint locations, and marketing messages. (Make note about this continuing into an iterative development process)

Achieve Clarity and Consensus

We help you make sense of complicated information in order to achieve consensus and shared purpose across silos, and a drive towards action.

Data is no good if people lack the ability to act on it. We make information more accessible by visualizing it, help you see patterns in data you already have, and help you relate insights to your work. When data is dry, we make it come alive and become relatable. This helps everyone relate to the big picture and get inspired to act.

Examples

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Integrating silos for a better customer service experience

A major telecom company lacked consensus around the levels of severity of issues with their customer service experience. They wanted to prioritize their project investments to maximize impact by focusing on the customer’s perspective. From our ethnographic research we created a map of the customer experience across the life of the relationship, integrating for them for the first time all the different components of customer support. Together with a range of internal stakeholders, we mapped where current and planned projects from across the company would address customer issues. This helped teams from different specializations prioritize work to be done in a more unified and holistic way.

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Gather and harmonize a community's vision for their museum

The Connecticut Historical Society commissioned an architectural and a design firm to design a vision for their new museum. To be certain they were investing in the right design, CHS hired SonicRim to engage the local community in benchmarking the design vision against the community’s aspirations. We organized a series of participatory design activities with the local community to develop experience design principles. CHS used our findings to change direction to better embody the community’s needs and desires.

Expand your Capacity for Innovation

We help you get unstuck, and find or evolve new and smarter ways of working.

Examples

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Expanding a team’s concept of how new ideas and designs can be generated

Business as usual for this large toy company involved hiring designers every year to create designs for a new line of accessories for international distribution. They struggled to ensure that each new line would have appeal in each of the different locations and cultures they serve. For a different approach, the company commissioned SonicRim to find alternate ways of developing themes that would resonate with local imaginations. SonicRim facilitated co-creation with 120 of the company’s existing global licensees to create a new set of appropriate and compelling themes for the accessories. The VP of Design used this workshop as a new best practice to train their designers in harnessing the wisdom and ideas of their industry partners.

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Breaking out of siloed thinking

We were brought into the innovation center of an automotive firm to change a a cross-disciplinary team’s vision of an emerging technology and introduce them to co-creation methods.

We held an internal workshop with the team where they imagined their lives with the technology. This pushed them out of their own industry lens and got them to look at it from an everyday person’s experience perspective. In the process, they noticed their own bias from the industry and their own expertise silo, and realized that taking a human-centered perspective builds consensus, feels different and produces different outputs than their discussions and debates.

As a result, they decided to commission a deeper study with real customers to explore this more human vision of the technology.