Posts about ‘design thinking’

Objective Truth

How do we know we’re designing right? How do we know our design is good? Is “good enough” for a client the same as “good enough”? Who decides if a design is good? Or bad? Is good-or-bad really the right scale for describing design? How does a company manage design “quality” across a small, large, or distributed staff of designers? What is design “quality”?


I like sushi. Just last night, I had a delicious rainbow roll and some spicy tuna maki from a restaurant around the corner. I’m no sushi genius, but I can appreciate the textures of the different ingredients, I can tell fresh from sorta-fresh, and even though it’s on the expensive side, made-to-order sushi is worth […]

How Good Is Good Enough?

I swing back and forth wildly between perfectionist and that’s-good-enough-ist. Perfectionism is easy to explain, and many designers and engineers spend time there. But what does it mean to feel like good enough is good enough? When do you cross from “not good enough” to “good enough”? Often, companies find themselves in a morass of market requirements, regulatory requirements, goals, nice-to-haves, and wouldn’t-it-be-cools, without good tools for sorting them out.

The Modal Verbs

One simple thing I like doing when thinking about companies, products, and services, is the Modal Verb exercise. It’s interesting to do it by myself, and interesting to do with other designers and with clients. It’s easy–just fill in these blanks.

The Emotional Company

I’ve been talking to a friend who’s thinking of launching a startup. One of things he’s considering is how to adapt the principles of the “triple bottom line.” The ideas is that the company is beholden to stockholders, but also other stakeholders, and that it will pay attention to performance not only economically, but also environmentally, and socially. There are many versions of this floating around on the web. One of the interesting things about this kind of thing is the way it mirrors the way “design thinking” considers more than just problem-solving in product design.

What Design Is

What is “design,” anyway? Is it the ability to draw stuff? Is it the ability to cobble together a mechanism? Those may be part of it, but they miss the real point. Design is how you decide what to draw, and what to cobble together.

Changing The Formula

Exactly where a product falls on the “Love It / Solves It” axes depends on what it means for a particular consumer to “love” a particular product, and on what it means for that product so “solve” a consumer’s problem. Any change to the product (and the way it is marketed) may move the product in any direction.

What It Takes

Characterizing what goes into a purchase decision is, I’m guessing, the most important thing a company can do. Why does anyone buy anything? There are lots of ways to talk about it, but the one I’m enjoying these days, I call the “Love It / Solve It” chart.

The idea is this: In order for me to buy a product, it must both solve my problem, to some extent, and I must love it, to some extent. Exactly how much a product must solve and how much I must love before I’ll by are related to each other along some curve. If a product is above and to-the-right of the curve, as the star is, I’ll by. Below the curve, and no dice.

A couple of times in the last week I’ve noticed a new product: Scott “Xtreme” Rags. They’re so new they’re not even on the Scott website, as far as I can tell. But I saw them at Home Depot last weekend, and when I peeked into a store undergoing renovation a few days later. It’s a product that seems aimed at the contractor market, and I think it’s a strange mash-up. It’s a product simultaneously of the lowest and the highest value.

Stop Telling Me

Many products communicate like apes do: they tell me what to do next. Better to treat me like a person: give me the information I need to understand the job at hand and participate in getting it done.

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