" The designer has a prescriptive rather than descriptive job.
Unlike scientists who describe how the world is, designers suggest how it might be." - Bryan Lawson
If you're running any kind of creative company, what questions and processes should you come back to regularly to make sure you're on the right track and focusing your energy on what matters? What follows is a set of guiding principles to shape the creation of a more sustainable design culture. It focuses on defining the problem, shaping product culture and creating a transparent process.
Defining the Problem
Defining the problem is an important part of figuring out a solution, and having clarity of vision. The following questions need to be posed and answered again and again throughout the product development process to make sure your product or services are on target.
1. What's the problem we think people have?
2. Do they in fact have this problem?
3. How do they solve this problem today?
4. How much do they spend to solve this problem ?
5. How much does this problem impact their business / life ?
Products and services are made by people. Those people need to feel valued, motivated and happy. It's important to have a clear vision and ensure that your people are supported in its execution. Using this product culture framework and regularly asking the following questions of yourself and your team allows you to gauge the health of your organization.
What do we stand for? What are our values?
What are the strategies which form the core of our company or service?
How do we communicate our story?
How do people feel after using our product / service?
Is it clear how to use our product or service?
Once you have clearly defined the problem and have an engaged workforce, using a transparent process will help you create great products and services in a sustainable manner.
My framework is a way of logically laying out ideas, organizing them by Vision, Goals, Strategy, Tactics and Tasks. The framework is a flexible tool which allows you to evaluate ideas at any level and helps you make decisions in real time about your organization and product. It is also a tool to create consensus in your team about which ideas are truly connected to your vision and which ones are not.
It's important to understand the whole customer story. It's not about what you want them to do; it's about carefully understanding their current activities and then creating the best possible outcome for those activities. This will create real innovation instead of incremental change.
Find the open spaces in culture; these are where the big opportunities are. This can be a hard path, since no one else is initially working in that space, but by addressing a gap it is also the one most aligned with your customers' needs. If by following your own path you create an innovation, you will have no competition. No competition allows you time and space to build your advantage.
It's all about execution. We've all heard this phrase, but what does it mean? In this case it means that people want to see fully-formed products they can use, not half baked beta products. Creating complete products at each stage of your company's journey satisfies customer expectations and allows your ideas to evolve and change, learning through the challenge of creating real products.
No matter how many resources you have for a project, here's a simple breakdown: 50% will need to be spent on design production and development. The other 50% will be spent on understanding your audience, telling your story, and making sure your vision is big enough and aligned with the market of users.
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