We believe that great products can change the world. Products that delight, excite, support, solve, educate…that is where the inspiring opportunity lies for individuals and businesses alike to prosper. But the implication for design, the design of impactful products, goes so much deeper than the visual or even the end result. It means design must understand, inform, drive and connect with business, process and people to stand a chance of reaching this potential. The rigorous attention to detail and depth of experience that define outstanding design are not an afterthought. They are not an activity separate from the business goals or day-to-day processes of the company. All three are—and must be—deeply intertwined with one another.
Put simply, behind many great products are great organisations. A fundamental aspect to their success is understanding the necessity of collaboration across disciplines, in constellations that reflect who they are building things for (a tenet coined by Melvin Conway in 1967 as Conway’s law, but still widely unrealised). They commonly share a number of key behaviours:
- They understand that great design is a process, not an outcome, and are therefore intentionally and systematically learning from what they put out in the world, preparing for their next iteration.
- They realise that the knowledge they collect from these activities enables analytical leadership and planning, which in turn means that future-proofing becomes a part of the design culture, not a one-off activity done in a vacuum.
- There is a common understanding right up to top management that improvement to product and experience has a direct and lasting benefit on business success.
If it sounds like a design-driven approach affects your entire organisation, that’s because it does. But that doesn’t mean it’s an impossible vision. It often starts with a commitment to tackle one particular challenge with this new approach. Then you tackle the next, and the next…As people begin to learn and embrace what they have learned, a shift starts to form beyond the individual projects and efforts. The more knowledge shared, the more projects collaborated on, the more naturally the next step will emerge. It sharpens your team’s sense for what we call ‘doing the right thing now’.
But how do you work out the first ‘right thing’ to do? This is sometimes the biggest hurdle, and we recognise that. That’s why at MDX we start all our projects with The Leap, a three-hour session that distils your challenge, captures your vision, and culminates in what you can tackle first to start that journey. It won’t give you all the answers but knowing where to start is a powerful step in the right direction.