This article was originally published on our Medium Platform Rethinking Organizations.
In human-centered design processes, the perspective, thoughts, feelings, and needs of all stakeholders are at the center of the design process to solve whatever challenge they encounter. In other words, it is vital to generate human insights in creating an insight-driven strategy and design that will trigger transformation. To reach these insights, design research is a valuable tool that enables us to understand and interpret the needs, thoughts, feelings, actions, and behaviors of the stakeholders; meaning discovering the root of it all, distilling the main learning.
Qualitative research methods are widely used in design research to generate human insight. This is because qualitative research methods have been very effective in gaining a thorough understanding of different stakeholders through face-to-face interviews, focus group discussions, and many other methods. However, the use of post-qualitative research methods as well as qualitative research methods could be a new and important step in the generation of human insight.
Principally, post-qualitative research is an immersive process. The design firm becomes a partner of both the problem and the solution as a stakeholder in its efforts to trigger transformation.
The interpretation capacity of the researcher based on perceptions, judgments, and affects tries to create meaning on organizational phenomena. In this understanding phase, being in contact with data does not suffice. It depends on the researcher’s ability to becoming-with-data to understand organizational phenomena (Vitri et al, 2020). Post-qualitative research suggests a style of research in which the researcher can recognize or define something rather than a traditional perspective that focuses on a method that guides the researcher to a set of technical procedures for its correct use (Gherardi, 2018).
On the other hand, human insight cannot be generated solely from a human-centered perspective. The outputs of the post-humanist paradigm may also be important in generating human insight. Identity building within organizations takes place in a relational, socio-material, and affective manner. Here affect does not imply the emotion that a person has. It can be understood as a “relational modulation in the agentic potentials of bodies to affect and be affected with other bodies that are always embedded in the material world” (Gherardi, 2017). According to Deleuze (1988), the body as an affective being is understood in all organized masses of matter and energy. That is, it can be understood through its relation to non-human things as well as humans. For example, these can be artifacts, technologies, speeches, ideas, and technologies.
Post-qualitative research methods can be an important step in generating human insight and develop a deeper understanding of humans, as it enables the human to be understood in relation to the material world.
Have you ever heard of post-qualitative research? What implications do you think this method would have in understanding the nature of organizations and problem-solving?
Further reading for the interested:
Deleuze G. (1988) Spinoza: Practical Philosophy. San Francisco, CA: City Lights Books.
Gherardi S. (2018) Theorizing affective ethnography for organization studies. Organization. 2019;26(6):741–760. doi:10.1177/1350508418805285
Gherardi S. (2017) One turn . . . and now another one: Do the turn to practice and the turn to affect have something in common? Management Learning 48(3): 345–358.
Vitry C, Sage D, Dainty A. (2020) Affective atmospheres of sensemaking and learning: Workplace meetings as aesthetic and anaesthetic. Management Learning. 2020;51(3):274–292. doi:10.1177/135050761989393