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Five Functions Prism

The PLAYBOOK

The ‘Five Functions Prism’ is one of 30 techniques included in our PLAYBOOK, the free toolkit for creative thinkers.

WHAT IS THE FIVE FUNCTIONS PRISM?

The Five Functions Prism is a set of lenses or parameters used to evaluate and get the measure of most things, particularly products.

HOW TO USE IT?

What things do for us can be categorised into 5 types of function. Explore and evaluate an item, object or product based on how —and how well— it performs those functions.

 

You can download the Five Functions Prism below.

Five Functions Prism
The Five Functions worksheet

Technical function

The practical job or physical task the item is designed to do. A washing machine washes clothes. A pen flows ink to paper. A cup holds hot liquids without burning you. Technical functions often take an input and transform it into a desired output. Press a button to answer a call, for example.

Usability

A measure of how easy and pleasurable an interaction is between an object and its user. Is it comfortable, it is clearly understandable, does it feedback appropriately?

Sustainability

Determines the potential environmental, social and economic impacts. Are its materials from sustainable sources? What impact does its manufacture have on local or distant communities? What type of waste does it produce during operation? What happens at the end of the product’s life?

Aesthetics

Describes an objects ability to appeal to people’s emotions through properties like proportions, shape, colour, rhythm and texture. Notions of beauty are subjective and often rely on colloquial references that change over time and across cultures.

Identity

It is about distinguishing the item or user in a particular way. It is about conveying desired messages externally to others such as “I save the planet” or “I am financially successful”. They are often driven by sets of values or beliefs that underpinned all the wonderful variety and colour of our world.Determines the potential environmental, social and economic impacts. Are its materials from sustainable sources? What impact does its manufacture have on local or distant communities? What type of waste does it produce during operation? What happens at the end of the product’s life?

ENDS

DOWNLOAD WORKSHEETS

The worksheet is included in our free PLAYBOOK, a collection of 30 of our favourite tools and techniques. Download them all now in the PLAYBOOK.

PLAYBOOK pages

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