Ever wonder how a good doctor is able to focus on the one or two possibilities even without the help of diagnostics? Now go try teaching hospital administrators the trick.
Good designers are just like good doctors.
They find great alternatives, not necessarily by processing information (codified) like a computer does, but by an invisible skill — Design Thinking. Malcolm Gladwell explains the phenomenon in his book Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking (2005) [I’m not saying I agree with everything in the book … but nevertheless].
The example of Kenna, a musician who is loved by critics for his eclectic style but fails to get a record deal because his music does not test well in marketing surveys, is instructive, as it illustrates how the “thin-slicing” of experts differs markedly from the mass market. Other examples in this chapter include the failure of “New Coke” in the 1980s, when Coca-Cola attempted to improve sales by making a version of Coke that tasted more like Pepsi because blind taste test results favored Pepsi, as well as an office chair that did not test well in marketing surveys but that turned out to be a best-seller. In this chapter, Gladwell highlights how expert thin-slicing is especially valuable and considerably more accurate in judging worth than the mass market or the novice, concluding that what turns out to be a successful product might be more accurately judged by the people who are experts in that field.
Design Thinking is not just a series of steps to carry out mindlessly. Forget the process and tools for a moment and focus on understanding the user first. While doing so, use every bit of your past experience and knowledge in designing products and services that have the potential to enrich end-user experience.
Trust your gut, don’t just hand over that part to Design Thinking or any other “tool”. Good luck!
Labels have always had a place – behind the collar and on cartons. That’s where they belong and that’s where they ought to stay. Make fashion statements out of them and we’re heading for big trouble. Because labels have a way of sticking beyond their life. Would you still call India “Third” world? See, the label just won’t go away.
Example #1 – Hybrid Design.
As though we don’t already have enough confusion around understanding “Design” – designers and non-designers both – our propensity for labels is adding clutter to the chaos. This recent Fastcompany article “Beyond Design Thinking: Why Hybrid Design is the Next New Thing” thrives in the romanticism of stating the obvious.
The year was 1997. I’d blame it on youth. I have a vague recollection of being a frustrated Industrial Designer – evangelistic, passionate and vocal – struggling to make my Indian clients see the light. Internet was still in its early days and Industrial Design wasn’t even a notion. The following article found its way into a glossy that nobody read – they just bought an odd copy to display on coffee tables for status value. Let me know what you think.
“It is never too early to employ design – almost always too late. Design should be used to create the spark and not to fight the fire. It is also important for designers today to recognize that people are now more educated about design and quality.”
Designing for Yesterday (1997)
( A tossed salad of roles, experiences, ethics and goals.) “… for them that can think with the heart!”
Client:“… so that’s settled then. We hope you can work out something that’s really different and looks like a SONY …”
Designer:( looking slightly puzzled) “Sure! But you haven’t yet told me when you want all this.”
Client:(smiling) “YESTERDAY, of course ..!!”
When you first hear something like this, you can be quite amused. It’s funny! But somewhere underneath, it’s very profound. It reflects a culture – a particular way of wanting things to happen.
We always seem in a hurry of the tearing variety. Design time is invariably difficult to accommodate due to “market pressures”. Or because design came as an afterthought. Therefore, YESTERDAY ?!!
It’s like saying that it should not matter much whether the salt is in the dish or consumed separately while eating.
Many “packaged” collaborations have been observed to “pick” product models that are already obsolete in their countries of origin. Their moulds are cheaper (read — free to the seller) and the Indian consumer will still be delighted with the “new” option (read — has no choice).
Therefore YESTERDAY ?!! It’s like going to a mediocre hotel to eat stale food at prevailing five-star prices. Continue reading “Designing for ‘Yesterday’”