Great read! But I do have one major concern with this approach. If the initial research isn’t complete, then innovation will not happen. I can guarantee it.
Here’s what happened to me. I recently joined a company (assistant designer) and have been asked to create a prototype for an older adult’s phone. Like you I wanted to jump straight into the design process and not worry too much about the research. (I mean it’s a phone for older adults. Just slap on a good grip, some big icons and a loud accessibility assistant and you are done right..)
The lead designer in the project (a person with over 30 years experience in the business and multiple patents) pushed me to keep doing research. I realized that in doing the research my understanding of the problem was far inferior to what the real problem was. We came across problems that users in the testing group could not have predicted because they don’t know the right way to put it across.
my point here is this: maybe you have a small chance to create something extremely unique through research (and that’s a big maybe). But that sure as hell wouldn’t happen if you start designing and sticking to the brief right away.
The reason we do research is not to “solve a problem” but to figure out “what are the REAL problems” and then “how do we solve them”
(P.S.: notice how I used the words older adults rather than seniors or senior citizens? Research showed that most older adults don’t like to be termed as seniors and would be less open in a user testing environment. We probably would have received sub-par results in user testing if we had termed them “senior citizens”)