Good Design Gets You in the Game…

…great design is the game winner.

Welcome to the world where design is king.

 

In the old days, designers were an afterthought, the people at the end of the production process. Engineers would hand over something that was functionally effective and have the designers make it look good. Those days are over.

Today, design is about experiences as well as products. It’s about services as much as it is hard goods.

Design is now differentiation.

Alan Webber, founder of Fast Company magazine and author of “Rules of Thumb,” puts it this way: Today companies use design to:

  • create distinctive products and services that capture their customers’ imaginations
  • restructure their corporate operations
  • unveil new logos and uniforms that express a fresh corporate identity
  • develop new communications tools that connect with customers and shareholders
  • build corporate offices that encourage and enable collaboration
  • collect and share information across a global platform

Design is a way to solve deep-seated social problems. And design is a money saver, a way to simplify products and make them easier and less expensive to manufacture and sell. Across the board designers have defines a way of seeing that adds to the delight of customers and the profitability of companies.

Application to ChurchWorld

You probably already understand this on some level. You understand that the design of your website says more about you and provides a quick glimpse of your “brand”. You know that the little – and not so little – things like the design of your logo and your letterhead, the print pieces you use, the “flow” of your worship experience all communicate instantly what your church is all about.

But if you are still a design novice, and want to learn more, here are Webber’s three ways to begin to crack the design code:

  • Reading – you may be a word person and you want to try to learn about seeing. Dan Pink’s “A Whole New Mind,” Tim Brown’s “Design Thinking,” Tom Kelley’s “The Art of Innovation” and “The Ten Faces of Innovation,” Jeanne Liedtka and Tim Ogilvie’s “Designing for Growth,” and Don Norman’s “The Design of Everyday Things” are required reading. Get one of them today; start reading it tonight, and put it into action tomorrow.
  • Viewing – You need to practice seeing. Go to an art museum; browse a furniture showroom gallery; check out the latest model cars. The more you look at objects like these, the more you appreciate great design. You’re not buying, so don’t worry about price. Look carefully at the lines, interior detailing and design, and the small things that make a big difference. “Seeing” is a critical skill for aspiring diagnosticians – like you.
  • Shopping – Go out and find an assortment of small objects that go in your home or office. Look at OXO products; visit an IKEA store. When you pick up one of these objects, you will immediately understand what “consumer-centered design” means. Go to an office supply store and sit in an Aeron chair. Look at the latest products from Apple: iPhone, iPad, the latest MacBook Air. Go to an antique store and see what great design looked like in the past. Take a virtual shopping trip to your heart’s content. When you have collected these objects (or examined them enough), what do these products have in common? Are they as good to look at as they are fun to use? Is there an emotional content to their design?

You don’t have to buy anything to get the idea. But you do have to buy into the idea:

Design is everywhere, and increasingly, design is everything.

 

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What is the Foundation of Design Thinking?

It’s the willing and even enthusiastic acceptance of competing constraints.

The first stage of the design process is often about discovering which constraints are important and establishing a framework for evaluating them. Constraints can best be visualized in terms of three overlapping criteria for successful ideas:

  • Feasibility – what is functionally possible within the foreseeable future
  • Viability – what is likely to become part of a sustainable business model
  • Desirability – what makes sense to people and for people

A competent designer will resolve each of these three constraints, but a design thinker will bring them into a harmonious balance.

This pursuit of peaceful coexistence does not imply that all constraints are created equal; a given project may be disproportionately by technology, budget, or a mix of human factors. Different types of organizations may push one or another of them to the forefront. Nor is it a simple linear process. Design teams will cycle back through all three considerations throughout the life of a project, but the emphasis is on fundamental human needs – as distinct from fleeting or artificially manipulated desires.

That’s what drives design thinking to depart from the status quo.

Questions for ChurchWorld leaders:

  1. What are the constraints facing you today?
  2. Can you classify them into the 3 categories listed above?
  3. How will you balance them?

inspired by and adapted from Change by Design, by Tim Brown

Change by Design

Creating an Experience Blueprint

The past few posts have given you a basic understanding of some of the foundations of guest services. Now it’s time to go back to school – design school.

Becoming an Experience Architect

One of the game-changing concepts related to guest services comes from Tim Brown’s book “Change by Design”. Brown, the CEO of the innovation and design firm IDEO, has challenged my thinking about design in a number of ways: it’s not just for creative industries or people designing products. Design thinking is most powerful when applied to abstract, multifaceted problems that address a wide range of issues and concerns.

Problems that the typical church encounters every day!

Here’s a great example from one chapter on the design of experience:

Design has the power to enrich our lives by engaging our emotions through image, form, texture, color, sound and smell. The intrinsically human-centered nature of design thinking points to the next step: we can use our empathy and understanding of people to design experiences that create opportunities for active engagement and participation.

Wow-that’s a lot to think about! In the world of serving the church where I work and live, the concepts of designing for experience are so important, yet so often totally overlooked. Brown goes on to talk about 3 “themes” of the design of experiences:

  • The experience economy – people have shifted from passive consumption to active participation
  • Best experiences are not scripted at corporate headquarters but decided on the spot by service professionals who create an authentic, genuine, and compelling experience
  • Implementation is everything-an experience must be as finely crafted and precision-engineered as any other product

Just as a product begins with an engineering blueprint and a building with an architectural blueprint, an experience blueprint provides the framework for working out the details of a human interaction, including emotive elements, from beginning to end.

It captures how people travel through an experience in time. Rather than trying to choreograph that journey, its function is to identify the most meaningful points and turn them into opportunities to positively impact the individual. What might be a source of discomfort or pain is now an opportunity for an experience that is distinctive, emotionally gratifying, and memorable.

The experience blueprint is at one and the same time a high-level strategy document and a fine-grained analysis of the details that matter.

It’s time to create an Experience Blueprint for your Guest Services!

The Spaces of Design Thinking

Design thinkers know that there is no one “best way” to move through the process.

The continuum of innovation is best thought of as a system of overlapping spaces rather than a sequence of orderly steps. You can think of them as:

  • Inspiration – the problem or opportunity that motivates the search for solutions
  • Ideation – the process of generating, developing, and testing
  • Implementation – the path that leads from the project room to the market

Projects may loop back through these spaces more than once as the team refines its ideas and explores new directions.

The reason for the iterative, nonlinear nature of the journey is not that design thinkers are disorganized or undisciplined but that design thinking is fundamentally an exploratory process; done right it will invariably make unexpected discoveries along the way, and it would be foolish not to find out where they lead.

– Tim Brown, Change by Design

Leaders in ChurchWorld need to be design thinkers…

What spaces are you moving through today?