Musings on designing experiences & (re)engineering complexity

Mar 2019

Starting from Convo

Building a design ethos, one conversation at a time

In talking with people about Avanceé, one of the questions that comes up from designers, or those with a design background, is “how often do you work with other people versus how often do you work by yourself?“ This is a very valuable question, and it tends to be answered honestly — depends on the project. For many organizations however, the work that happens is actually not doing design artifacts (strategy, research, wireframes, proptotypes, and products), which might require individual or collaborative efforts. The effort/work that is design happens within conversations.

As unique as it might seem, design is not noticed by many people. They notice an aesthetic. They might notice friction when something that is favored turns unfavorable (“this is designed wrong”). They might even notice beauty that is their perspective only, versus beauty that’s a shirt perspective of a group or culture (appreciation and appropriation). Design is communication. It’s a particular mastery of communication. Design should communicate value. However, the value that design communicates is not a mastery of an aesthetic, as a mastery of an investment. Investment means data. Data means analysis. Analysis means communication.

Within some of our conversations, design is something that becomes understood as a way to attract someone to a product. But we often end up turning the conversation into “what is it that you want your product to communicate that’s valuable to someone else?“ When used in this way, the conversation evolves from an investment in some type of beauty, to an investment in some kind of clarity. This clarity often causes those organizations to revisit not only their request for design expertise, but the shape of the organization as a relates to what it is they truly are delivered.

If you look at design as the product that you are offering, you will end up focusing less on the value of what it is that you are communicating and more on the value of the shape of the thing you are communicating. However, if design is part of your very nature. That is, design is the very building block of how you make decisions about how your organization functions, then you communicate something a lot clearer, a lot cleaner, a lot more valuable to your prospective audience: you give them the ability to design their world instead of you designing it for them.