Ethnographic research is an essential phase in the creative process since this is the moment when user needs and wants will set the foundation for crucial design decisions. On the other hand, theory is not always working in practice, so in my opinion the best way to make the most out of ethnography is to make broad studies with many participants and loose requirements as outcome. Because, hopefully this will lead designers in the right direction, but leave space for evolutionary development in an iterative testing phase where actual users have the opportunity to contribute with important input to the decision makers.
Lean production is a popular management philosophy that attempts to reduce resources spent on work that will not generate value to the end users. I have a clear mission as a designer that is aligned with most lean principles, that is to make the digital world a better place... for people! But if we want to design for people we must first understand people, so in order to create great user experiences in lean design teams we must starts to do some great ethnography. Here is an inspiring slideshow from TLCLabs that should convince any product manager.
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