I’ve got a short walk to the train station from my flat. For the first year of living here, I’d slope out the house every weekday morning, squeeze on to the Jubilee line, make a couple of changes and arrive at Old Street, filling the journey with books, music or general phone distractions to avoid paying much attention to anything happening around me. Rinse and repeat.
Then we had a baby.
Suddenly, that inconsequential walk down our road became a gauntlet of potholes, uneven paving and muted swearing, as the buggy came to an abrupt, tilting halt for the third time in a minute. Something that had previously had absolutely no bearing on my life was now a frequent source of anxiety on the simplest of journeys (multiplied when our daughter was sleeping), purely through a shift of circumstance and experience.
And that experience is key to ensuring we can address the problems we’re here to solve. It can depend on the project, but the likelihood is that - as a team - we won’t have acutely lived with the issues we’re trying to improve. It’s only by getting out of the building, talking and listening to people for whom these problems are a reality that we can truly have any success at creating a customer-focused team, which is why rounds of user testing and user interviews are so fundamental to the work we do.