For over 6years, design thinking has been a pivotal methodology for my social and business interactions…from idea development to service delivery, from company internal discussions and educational training, the user is king. People must be at the centre of every design endeavour. But why the people and not the product?
Design thinking proponents like David Kelley of IDEO and Roger Martin advocate that for a product or service to be successful, it must be desirable, feasible and viable; that is, the product/service must be a need the target market craves for, there must be technological tools and means to deliver such a solution and the market must be willing and in the position to foot the bill to use it. Of course “someone will surely pay for it if it’s useful/needful” Design thinkers argue that for a product or service to attract investments and generate revenue in the market, it must pass the design thinking test.
In order to really create and deliver value in the market, some questions need to be answered: what really is at the centre of the design thinking test? Can we look at any service or product without thinking about its users? Are users the kingmakers of good design? Today’s services and products and the supporting supply chain systems seem to affirm an emphatic yes to the latter question. What this means is that to do good design, we must think of users (the people) first. What are their fears, pains and desires as they negotiate their daily decisions and choices?
For example, if administrators of a school want to improve their service model, questions like, what are the fears and pains of the students and tutors? How do they want these fears and pains turned into real and desirable value, how best can one help mitigate such pains? These and many other questions about the user and their way of life must be answered. It could be in this instance, that the students require more human interactions with their tutors, on the other, the tutors may need effective tools and time to have more interactions with students etc…the questions are many and the users(students/tutors) have the answers right in the midst of the problem. These questions and possible feedback could even help to reframe the problem, given insights to new possibilities to create a better solution.
To do good design, ask the users how good the design ought to be. Users have the words and signals to design, what good designers do is to take the raw data and convert that into objects and experiences that respond positively to the user’s needs or wants.
Is the answer ‘yes’ from users the only green light for designers to launch their innovations? In an age where technology and product development thrive on huge budget allocations and high ROIs expectations, business executives, engineers and designers measure the viability of their innovations through the design thinking metrics. Should the user desiring the product be a pivotal signal to initiate the development of an idea? Why not. Wait for a moment. We must also be aware that customer behaviour does change and innovations do go through timelines so meeting the needs of users at the optimal time is crucial for the adoption of an innovation. But if the real issue is about looking for answers to problems that face humanity, what should we do when there is a flicker of light to the answers and there seem to be a vibe on the side of the users that they need it. What should one do in times like these?
Design thinking thrives on analytical experimentations but good design is not only about the numbers (analytical); it’s a combination of the known and the unknown possibilities, so why turn your back on a good idea because it will not have monetary value in the short term…why not give it a try when you have what it takes to create that value. Why not create the future knowing the present adds up to tomorrow.
Good design is facing the unknown with a lot of data and at the same time feeling the fear of failure but iteratively doing it anyway because you believe it will help someone somewhere experience a better life. Good design is creating a solution people are excited to use because it makes their lives better. When the idea(solution) is desirable; when the tools and resources are available to make to develop the idea; when you know people will love to use it, what are you waiting for? The internet came when people didn’t know anything about it; when the world did not even imagine that one day without it, productivity will go south…Vinton Cerf and Bob Kahn invented it because they went ahead and realized that humans will one day need the internet…or maybe, they were just trying an idea and in one way or the other, directed us to a future that affords the human race many possibilities to produce and serve across borders.
Yes, you may feel the fear, you may even be wondering if someone out there will pay for that product/service or not. Why not ask instead if someone close to you, someone in your neighbourhood needs it or if someone out there will have a use for that idea. Maybe your idea could lead us to the future…so why wait for so long? The world needs you to act now, do good design.
If it will be useful to humanity, just do it!!!