TELEPHONE TREE: "These four mobile phones are all active and are all owned by one person, and he carries all of them on him. In Afghanistan, if you want to be polite, you get one phone for each of the operators that your friends are using, so when they call, their costs are lower."

CASH ONLY: "This is a Hawala market, their informal money-transfer service. If you walked up to the people, you'd see them sitting on piles of cash."

FUEL EFFICIENCY: "Street gas stations are slightly cheaper, but the gas is adulterated with water or impurities, which means you'll have to get your generator serviced more often because it's going to break down quicker. For me, I look at this and it reinforces both the rationality and irrationality of consumer choices."

COLOR WHEEL: "This street pharmacy reduces all consumer choices down to color and shape. So if you're designing a service for a consumer base that isn't very literate, what is the range of parameters you could introduce that people would understand and how would you shape them, especially if it's digital?"

IN THE FIELD: "The first challenge with this kind of research is, 'How do you move the conversation about people's relationship with money to the point where you're getting some notion of the truth?' Questions around bribery are supertough; nobody ever says, 'Yes, I paid a bribe.'"

INVESTMENT RETURNS: "We intercepted this woman [a 25-year-old teacher] in a phone shop. We ended up being invited into the house to do a longer follow-up interview with her and her mother. She told us she invested in gold jewelry both as a form of savings and as a token of something she can wear at weddings, which will attract men to her."

82. Jan Chipchase

Frog Design

Jan Chipchase is the James Bond of design research. "I just came from six weeks on the road: Tokyo, London, Beirut, rural Uganda, Kenya, Barcelona, New York," says the Brit, who is stationed in Shanghai as Frog Design's executive creative director of global insights. "I stayed in the Trump Towers, a $10 shack near the Sudanese border, and traveled with a Hezbollah fixer on a motorcycle." Chipchase, who originally studied interface design, gained his reputation as an extreme method researcher after spending almost a decade in Nokia's research center and design studio. Last year, Frog hired Chipchase to apply sociology, ethnography, and psychology to product design for clients such as GE and Lenovo. Most recently, he ventured to Afghanistan to understand mobile banking for Frog's numerous telecom clients. "I could take my team anywhere in the world to research this," says Chipchase, who typically takes some 10,000 snapshots when he goes into the field (including the ones under Inspiration). "But I know when you go to more extreme places, you're more likely to see things that exist elsewhere, but aren't quite as visible."

Inspiration

I like being at the ends of the spectrum.

Network

Twitter: @janchip

Linkedin: http://www.linkedin.com/in/janchipchase

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