We’re doing this by helping people roll up their sleeves and apply customer-centric design practices to the work they do every day. What we mean by putting people first and using Design (with a capital “D”) to do it isn’t completely obvious. In fact, some of it is counter-intuitive.See What We Believe In
We believe organizations have made a huge mistake. They branded a fuzzy role — “user experience design” — in the hope of plugging holes with individuals.
But designing great products for people is the responsibility of everyone in the organization. Everyone. The efforts of engineers, salespeople, marketers, lawyers, designers, leadership, and customer service all need to touch their customers and provide value for them. Organizations that figure this out have a huge advantage over their competition.
Teams need to be composed of more doers than sayers or planners or documenters.
We want people who have great ideas, but also take pride in getting their hands dirty and building something to inspire their teammates and customers.
For a designer, craft means knowing when to pick up a pen and how to use it to represent a complex idea in an interface. It’s also imagining a person’s flow through a series of actions. Craft means caring about every detail that matters to give it purpose — every word, line of code, or pixel — and possessing the skills to do so at a high level.
Think design is only the domain of a designer? Nonsense, we want to drive that idea out of everyone’s head.
Design practices are visual problem-solving tools accessible to everyone who can pick up a pen to express an idea, highlight a great idea, or mark up anything with constructive feedback.
When we interact with clients, students in our classes, or others, we work hard to get them to understand how to contribute feedback on visual ideas, to build off those ideas themselves, and then to own them and carry them on into their own practices. There is nothing more gratifying than seeing a former client voluntarily explore five ideas to gather feedback instead of just building the first one!
Every design problem should also be a business problem.
Why? If the thing your organization is building can’t be supported by people who want to pay for it, then neither your product nor your business will last long.
Businesses need revenue to support their operations and customers who keep them honest. Without the constant feedback of customers voting with their dollars, companies can lose their way and get stuck making stuff that doesn’t matter. Companies that focus on getting attention and gaining traffic without revenue aren’t building products, they’re dabbling with projects and working against the clock.
It’s easy to fall in love with an idea and jump straight into building it.
But what happens once your solo sprint is done? Who are you going to share the idea with and how will their feedback influence your decision-making?
Every person with a product or service needs advocates to contribute their own blood, sweat, and tears to the effort from the very beginning.
These are the people who will take up the charge and join your team to build your idea and market it. They’re also the people who will fall in love with it enough to use it and broadcast this to the rest of the world from firsthand experience. Without that first, second, and third advocate early on, you’ll never find a team or an audience to make a difference.
Designing awesome products means possessing the unique ability to jump out to the 10,000 mile view to challenge big assumptions, then zoom back in to the details — however small — to make sure they all fit together in a way that makes sense.
This is where most companies struggle. They get bogged down in decisions over the quality and purpose of a million little details every day and let mediocre stuff slide through to their customers. They also fail to step back and ask big questions of their product or service. Do people get this? Do they want it? If not, what are we going to do about it?
We found an old technique that always works when asking big questions. Ask “Why?” five times. Repeatedly asking “Why?” helps to avoid just treating the symptoms, and instead gets to the root of how people use products. It works because it forces you to challenge invisible assumptions and think about big problems from fresh perspectives.
Design leaders who do this are skilled at avoiding obstacles for their team and getting unstuck when they hit roadblocks. This is critical for any company in today’s competitive markets. Tomorrow’s innovation often has nothing to do with what people want today or even with what’s possible today. Asking ‘why’ five times guides us to figure this out and keep moving forward.