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Dorte Bell

Dorte brings over 10 years of design research, product design, design management and user centred design to Scintilla and has worked in a variety of industries including public sector, children’s products, gaming, medical, consumer, safety and technical market sectors. Dorte strives to place people at the heart of any design in order to create meaningful experiences that delight and encourage ongoing engagement. Underpinning her design approach is a strong research philosophy to truly understand the user and their context in order to reveal insights that drive sustainable solutions. Dorte also tutors design students at UTS.

Empowering people with PowerMe

The future of outdoor public spaces is PowerMeOctober 2017

We have been busy working with Street Furniture Australia to design and develop PowerMe, a new charging table for public spaces. PowerMe provides a place to charge your mobile devices when you are out and about helping to empower users to never be without battery again. For more information on PowerMe visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l3oUH0gBDUA

We are very excited that prototypes of PowerMe will be on display as part of Future Street, part of the Festival of Landscape Architecture on in Sydney from 12 – 14 October.

Future Street is being built by the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects (AILA), Internet of Things Alliance Australia (IOTAA) and Smart Cities Council Australia New Zealand (SCCANZ) at Circular Quay on Alfred Street, in front of Customs House. So if you are in the city, take a look at what the future streetscapes of our cities might look like.

Sydney Indesign 2017

Exploring Alexandria at SID17 – August 2017

Sydney Indesign (SID) was on again and Dorte headed over to Alexandria to experience the latest design trends. The area was bursting with activity from the hub that is the Grounds of Alexandria to the open studios and showrooms of SID17.

One of the overarching trends across the 30+ exhibitors was an emphasis on quality and simplicity paired with a focus on tactile natural materials and finishes such as timber, brass and leather. These were exemplified by products such as the Pieman Chair (Tom Fereday for Dessin), the Halm chair ( jehs+laub for Brunner) and Tala Voronoi pendant lights (Tala). There was also a continued trend towards modularity and customisation of corporate spaces through configurable furniture systems such as Schiavello’s new Toku collection designed by Gavin Harris.

There was also a great sense of fun with collaborative “projects” offering interactive, engaging and immersive experiences. Two of my favourite experiences were The Tunnel of Light and the Mafi Ski and Health Chalet. The Tunnel of Light, a collaboration between Acme&Co and LightCo, led people through a “tunnel” panelled with mirrored floors and ceiling and walls that pulsed with strips and patterns of moving, colour changing lights. The experience made it challenging to know which way was up or down while the moving choreography of lights were quite hypnotising. In contrast, Mafi + Kebonny by WOODOS in collaboration with Billy Blue Design School, converted a showroom into an Austrian ski chalet complete with massage therapists to relieve your aching muscles after a day’s skiing (or pavement pounding in my case), signature scented wood panelling and tasty Austrian fare. A feast for all the senses and great way to entice travellers to stop and stay awhile.

It was clearly evident that more than ever brands recognise that their products do not exist in isolation but form part of a larger ecosystem and that to be successful, they must contribute something unique and human to their environment.

Here are a few pictures from the day – enjoy!

Clockwise from top left: Tunnel of Light installation at LightCo, The Grounds of Alexandria, Tala Voronoi pendant lights, Pieman Chair by Tom Fereday.

Workshopped 2017

Workshopped Opening Night – August 2017

Left: AM24 chair by Robin Keussen; Right: Korus lamp by Liljana Ristovski, Rebel Futurism Pendent by Dean Toepfer Rebel.

Dorte recently attended the VIP Opening Night of Workshopped 17 at the Supa Centa Moore Park Sydney. Now in its 17th year, Workshopped provides local designers with a platform to present their designs to both local and international markets.

This year there were 55 designs including furniture, lighting and homeware designs. The theme for this year’s exhibition was "Does your design demand attention and is fit for purpose?" One entry that stood out was the AM24 chair designed by Robin Keussen. This dining style chair marries the warmth of felted textile upholstery with the strength of Tasmanian Oak legs. The joinery details are well considered and the brass spacers add a touch of elegance. A unique internal frame and webbing structure means that there is no upper backrest edge making the chair really comfortable to sit in. This is one chair that we hope makes it from prototype to production and into the market place!

The Workshopped exhibition is on until 27th August so be sure to check it out!

Where are the women?

Women in Design Event – May 2017

Speakers at this year’s Women in Design event from left to right: Cathy Lockhardt (UTS), Sabina Popin (Meld Studios), Tanya Rechberger (King Living), Jemima Woo (NSW State Library / Woo ceramics) and Sarah Gibson (DesignByThem)

Dorte attended this year’s Women in Design event presented by the University of Technology (UTS) in conjunction with the NSW Design Institute of Australia and hosted by DesignByThem in their Chippendale showroom. This annual event provides a relaxed opportunity for women with foundations in industrial design to celebrate and share their career journey, experiences and insights into the contemporary practice of industrial design.

This year’s speakers were Cathy Lockhardt (UTS), Sarah Gibson (DesignByThem), Sabina Popin (Meld Studios), Tanya Rechberger (King Living) and Jemima Woo (State Library of NSW / Woo Ceramics). The women shared a variety of perspectives and experiences spanning service design, furniture design, exhibition design and design education. While the sectors in which they practiced may have differed, the take home messages were all very similar. Here are a few of our favourites:

  • You often learn more from your failures than your successes and sometimes what feels like failure (missing out on a job or getting fired) opens the door to bigger and better things.
  • Embrace every opportunity, try new things and experiment with design until you find where your natural interests and skills find the best fit.
  • Make things! Designers are creative people and we need to stay true to ourselves and keep the passion alive. So do what inspires you – paint, sculpt, sew…
  • Persevere – realising creativity is mostly about perseverance!
  • To get the best design outcomes we need to connect with others (colleagues, users, dissenters), collaborate and share ideas and information.
  • And finally, remember to say thank-you to your supporters (financial, press, private) and manufacturing partners. A little recognition goes a long way!

The evening certainly reaffirmed what a diverse discipline industrial design is and what amazing projects we have the opportunity to be part of. We look forward to further connecting with, collaborating and sharing experiences with our design colleagues.

When customer service goes bad…

I am currently in the middle of a lengthy and very poor customer service experience. You see, my 9 month old rather expensive condenser dryer suddenly stopped working on 22 March… right in the middle of a record breaking rainy period.

My customer service journey began smoothly enough with a call to the customer service centre who immediately arranged for a service technician to come and inspect my defective appliance. Great – I think to myself. This will be resolved in no time at all. Two days later, the service technician is punctual and courteous on arrival. He is at my house for less than 2 minutes before announcing that the dryer needs to be shipped off to the repair centre and he will arrange for a courier to contact me for collection. Two days later again and my machine is carted off to be repaired. And so begin my woes.

At first, I am contacted every few days to advise me of progress:

Customer service:  “We don’t have the part in stock, but we have ordered it and it should be here in a couple of days. We will call and let you know when the part arrives.”

Ok, that’s not too bad, I think to myself. A week later I hear from them again.

Customer service: “Your spare part has arrived at the workshop and we are ready to start repairs”.

Me: “That’s great! When can I expect my appliance back home?”

Customer Service: “Oh I can’t answer that. Your appliance has been placed in the repair queue and once repaired will undergo testing to confirm everything works as it should before we return it to you”.

Me: “Will I have it back before Easter – that’s one a half weeks from today?”

Customer service: “Oh I really couldn’t say. Someone will give you a call when it is ready for delivery”.

And that’s the last I heard. Easter comes and goes. The school holidays come and go. It’s now over a month later and I am still waiting and chasing to try and discover the fate of my faulty dryer…

Customer service is all about meeting the needs and exceeding the expectations of your customer. Providing delights, as Kano1 suggests, to change the perception of the service and or brand is one way of doing this. In order to do this, you first need to understand your customer’s needs. It also requires you to anticipate what your customer might reasonably expect in common scenarios such as the repair of faulty products under warranty. This requires empathy and the ability to listen openly and honestly to customer feedback. A good place to start is to put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself – how would I feel and what outcome would I want? In my case, it would be perfectly reasonable for me to want to know when I could expect to have my appliance returned, especially when I have just been advised that they have the required spare part in their hot little hands.

Think about the times when you have been in a hurry and you have had to stand in a queue at a government department or bank – You ask yourself ‘how long is this going to take?’ The issue is that you have lost control and now don’t have all of the information for you to make an informed decision – ‘should I stay or should I go and come back later?’ If an estimated waiting time was indicated then you are in a better position to make that informed decision. Of course, there are other ways in this instance to improve customer response – add more staff so the wait time is less, modify the processing system to enable things to be completed online thereby negating queues, create a Fastlane and so on. However these systems all bring with them potential for error and issues that may be disagreeable for the consumer.

This is where the concept of the service blueprint should be developed for that particular service and system. Fundamentally, the service blueprint reviews the interactions between the consumer and the frontline service personnel, it then reviews the interactions at the backend of the organisation that make the frontend work. It allows the service to be dissected and integrated in order to minimise negative touchpoints and maximise business efficiency and effectiveness and of course customer satisfaction.

When customer service degenerates to ticking boxes and following procedures, based on business processes, rather than listening to and empathising with customers to try and genuinely meet their needs, then you are no longer providing good customer service. While on paper your employees are meeting all their customer service targets by following up with customers and keeping them informed, by all appearances providing ‘good customer service’, in actual fact you may be doing more harm than good.

When you fail to meet a customer’s expectations the impression you leave behind is most often one of dissatisfaction, frustration and an overwhelming sense of your incompetence. Worse still, not only have you lost that particular customer for life, but you have in all likelihood lost many more potential customers. What you don’t know is how many other people your dissatisfied customers are telling about their experience – family, friends, work colleagues, their hair dresser – anyone who will listen. Believe me, I know firsthand and there are at least a dozen people in addition to me who will never go near this dryer brand in the future.

In todays ultra-competitive, brand saturated world, great customer service can make or break a company’s reputation. With the commoditisation of products business need to look for different ways to gain advantage and differentiate themselves from the competition. In this ‘experience economy’ the provision of exceptional customer service is a critical way to differentiate your brand, build strong and lasting customer relationships and a loyal customer following. Can you afford not to deliver great customer service?

1 Kano, Professor Noriaki – Theory of product development and customer satisfaction 

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10 questions to check your [design] health

So, is your organisation design-driven? Are you getting the most value from design? Or could you be doing more to fully harness the opportunities that considered and well crafted product design, strategic design thinking principles and practices can deliver? Take our 10 question health check below to find out or print your copy using the link below.

Over the last few blogs we’ve been talking a lot about design and the value it can bring to organisations when implemented at all levels within the business – strategic, process and product / service level. When fully integrated within an organisation, design also brings significant financial rewards. According to the Design Value Index (DVI) study, companies that implement and embed design management practices across their organisation show 10 year returns yielding 2.11 times (211%) that of the S&P 500 companies1

Companies that are considered truly design driven by the study include recognised design companies such as Apple, Herman Miller, Nike and Whirlpool. The list also includes companies not traditionally associated with design such as Proctor and Gamble, SAP, Starbucks and Target. In order for companies to be included in the Index they must meet six criteria:

To download and print a copy of the Organisational Design Health Check to start a conversation in your organisation, click below.

Design Health Check print

 

To learn more about the benefits of working with qualified design professionals, such as Scintilla Design, read our post on “8 reasons to use a qualified designer”.

1  Rae, J 2015 dmi: Design Value Index Results and Commentary, http://www.dmi.org/?page=2015DVIandOTW

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Design is everywhere, man!

In today’s fast paced media savvy world the word design is thrown around from many different directions. We hear about industrial design, interior design, product design, web design, UX design, service design, graphic design, fashion design and so on. There are many interpretations out there, so what is design really?

The word design is often misappropriated and used by individuals to mean planning or styling, and whilst these activities are a subset of the act of design they do not constitute design as a whole.  We define design as a complex problem solving process whereby artefacts are reimagined and created to attain goals. In essence what this means is that design is about solving complex problems, those that require specialist skills, often involve more than one discipline and affect more than a single person. The outcome of design is the creation of something new, an artefact, which may be a physical product, a service, an experience, a process or even a new methodology. And finally, design has purpose. It has a specific end goal that it is deliberately working towards.

So now that we have a working definition of design we also need to understand how design may be applied. Design can exist as an action or as philosophy. Design as action is focussed on the creation of a tangible outcome or artefact, be that a product, service etc. Design as philosophy is a mindset and an approach to tackling challenges that embraces the unknown, is visionary and above all else is human-centred. Design as philosophy has been translated more recently in the business world under the moniker of design thinking. Traditionally design has been viewed by most people as an action rather than as a philosophy. However, as products and services increasingly become commoditised, organisations are exploring other ways to gain a competitive advantage in the business landscape. As a result we are seeing design being applied strategically as a philosophy integrated across entire organisations, many of them organisations that traditionally have had little or nothing to do with design e.g. financial institutions.

Evolving role of design

“As a way of working and thinking, design sits between the two poles of science, which observes the facts of the material world, and the humanities, which interprets the complexities of human experience. Design is a culture that blends the concerns of science and the humanities to search for outcomes that are balanced and opportunistic, grounded in the real world but driven by human aspirations. It is equally concerned with probing the limits of our current reality as it is with making new realities possible.”1

The role of design has changed over the past 80 years, mirroring changes in society. Design was traditionally focussed on the aesthetic styling of products, the creation of a beautiful skin. Today, design provides strategic value and is no longer relegated to the R&D department but has a seat at the corporate boardroom table in progressive organisations. Having design sit in the C-suite brings more balance to organisations and puts people at the centre of business alongside dollars and resources.

Design is now being applied to the business itself, as well as the products and services that a business produces. Using a design mindset, organisations are able to embrace uncertainty and unknowns as opportunities for new directions, growth and innovation. Applying design to the organisation itself also ensures alignment between the corporate vision, the products and services offered to customers and the delivery model. Design increasingly plays a pivotal role in creating visions that lead and inspire organisations and their customers alike. Design is driving organisations to truly understand their customers in order to better create value, deliver meaningful experiences and make deeper, more insightful connections with their customers, be they an individual or another organisation.

In our ever changing world it is critical for design to be strategic and visionary because designers shape the world of tomorrow. Designers drive the values and behaviours of the next generation through the experiences, products and services we deliver today. We condition and set their expectations of connectivity, immediate gratification and constant novelty/ newness. Who could have predicted or imagined the far reaching impacts of the iPad/ iPhone – you can now find out anything you need to know, anytime, anywhere; book your next holiday while you’re taking a tea break; or crowd fund your next great idea without needing a bank loan. Design acts as an enabler and encourages individuals to be innovative and break new ground.

And of course, design is still the key driver for the development of physical products. The application of design to product development ensures that all priorities are balanced to ensure the delivery of a feasible, viable and desirable product. Design balances competing requirements from functionality to ergonomics and ease of use, materials selection to manufacturability, regulatory requirements to aesthetic objectives, user experience to budgets and timeframes.

What does design do for you?

In a perfect world there would be no need for design as everything would work together seamlessly. But the reality is that we live in an imperfect world full of complex problems which is why we need design. Design affects each one of us every single day on many different levels, often without us even realising it. The alarm on your phone that woke you this morning – a designer helped ensure you made it out of bed. Your coffee machine and the mug you drank your caffeine from – you have a designer to thank for that. Your car or the train you caught to work – a designer created that ride and that experience for you. Checking your Facebook / Twitter / LinkedIn feed on your tablet/ smartphone/ laptop – many designers created the experience, hardware and software for you to stay connected personally, socially and professionally.

Design strives to make our lives easier, it shapes the environment we live in, and of course it drives the world of commerce. Design boosts the economy by helping to drive innovation and connect business opportunities to markets and talent. It drives and shapes culture and society by connecting people, forming people’s perceptions and values, sparking our imagination and inspiring us to greatness. Design provides businesses with ways to connect with internal and external customers and delivers greater competitive advantage. According to the Design Value Index (DVI) study, companies that implement and embed design management practices across their organisation show 10 year returns yielding 2.11 times (211%) that of the S&P 500 companies2. And on a personal level, design helps us to express who we are (or who we aspire to be) and provides a sense of satisfaction through the experiences it creates and the connections it enables us to make.

Design as practice

Now that we know what design is and how its role is changing within society, let’s look at who actually does design. The fact is, everybody designs in some way, whether they realise it or not. The 6 year old child who is bored and creates a game to play is designing a solution for their boredom. The housewife who needs to buy a range of things from the supermarket and makes a shopping list to remember everything is designing a solution to how to remember all the things she needs to buy. She could equally have taken a photograph of each item or recorded an audio list on her phone instead of the written shopping list. While in both of these examples problems were being solved, the problems were simple and really only affected one person. We would not call the child or housewife a designer. While everyone designs, not everyone is a designer.

A professional designer is someone who has studied design at a tertiary level and applies that knowledge in a professional capacity to solve the challenges of other people and organisations. Today there are many disciplines that practice design including architecture, industrial design, interior design, engineering and even scientists. For our purposes however, we’re focussed on professional designers of products, experiences and services. Having said this, we recognise that to achieve a successful design outcome you need collaboration between multiple design disciplines in the right balance depending on the nature of the project. For example, the design of a new car would require more engineering expertise than the design of a range of glass ware.

A professional designer brings specific values in terms of both their mindset and the processes/ methods they use. Professional designers are trained to put people at the heart of what they do – not numbers, materials, costs or other myriad things. People first. This sounds simple, but it is not. In fact it is often the hardest thing because people are so variable and in some respects unpredictable. In actual fact, when confronted with all the requirements of an organisation that ultimately must deliver a profit, people often get lost. Designers can balance and weigh many competing requirements simultaneously. More importantly, designers also understand when to put certain objectives to the side temporarily in order to let creativity flourish and not squash good ideas before they have had a chance to breathe and develop legs.

Designers are open-minded and flexible in the way they work, which can appear mildly chaotic or unorthodoxed to the uninitiated. This is because design by its very nature is circular – a continuous cycle of observe, ideate, create, test and refine. Such processes can seem unstructured and repetitive to people used to working with linear problem solving methods. The benefits of the design process are huge – learning happens in real time thus avoiding costly mistakes further on, customer feedback is incorporated before launch and all stakeholders are involved from the beginning. The result is a smoother process with buy-in from all parties, shorter development timeframes, fewer issues after launch and greater customer acceptance. Who wouldn’t be happy with that outcome?!

So if your business wants to inspire people, connect with them and grow into the future, use design (and professional designers) – from top to bottom, inside to outside. Your customers, your talent and your organisation will thank you.

1 Bryan Boyer, Justin W. Cook & Marco Steinberg, 2011 In Studio: Recipes for system change, Sitra, Helsinki Finland, p25

2  J Rae 2015 dmi: Design Value Index Results and Commentary, http://www.dmi.org/?page=2015DVIandOTW

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(Design) Research – 5 outcomes it delivers

So what’s research? Research can be defined simply as the search for knowledge. It is a systematic investigation into anything in order to establish facts, answer a question and reach new conclusions.

While scientific research provides information to explain the natural world around us, that is ‘what exists’, design research is concerned with ‘what could be’ in the future. Design research tries to break the mindset and paradigms that have shaped the past. It challenges, provokes and disrupts the status quo. It does this by using visual imagery – sketches, maps, photos, storyboards, models and prototypes to explain concepts, stimulate discussion and collaboration, inspire new directions and engage emotions. Design research draws on knowledge that is transdisciplinary and contextual, relying on a range of methodologies in order to derive insights in topic areas as diverse as users, markets, materials, processes, history, culture, nature and so on. Design research is often applied throughout the entire development process as an extension of a designer’s natural inquisitiveness.

As designers, we are always striving to place people at the heart of our designs. To achieve this, we naturally tend to focus our research activity on trying to understand the unmet needs, wants, desires and dreams of the people we are designing for. We want to know what makes them tick. What motivates them to do the things they do? How and why do they do the things they do? What challenges do they face in their daily lives? For designers, it is design research that provides the context for any solution – the who, why, where when and what. By doing design research you are laying the foundations for a successful outcome and delighted users.

Here are 5 outcomes in particular that design research can deliver to your business. Each outcome is discussed with the following mini case study as an example. A car manufacturing company wants to design a new car specifically aimed at mothers with young children as they believe this may be a new market opportunity. No-one in the project team has young kids themselves.

1. Problem validation

Often designers are given a problem to solve in the form of a brief. Designers use research to interrogate the problem to determine whether it is in fact the real problem or merely a symptom of a larger and/or different problem. To create innovative and engaging experiences, products and services, you need ensure that you are solving the right problem for the right people at the right time. Validating the problem and articulating it in such a way as to be directive but not prescriptive will set up your project for success.

For our car company, they need to understand if mothers as a user group have needs that are not being met by current cars in the market. If they do, what are those needs? And if a new car could meet those needs, would they consider buying that vehicle at what price point? By observing mothers using a variety of cars and speaking with them about their experiences the team discovers several unmet needs e.g. they need extra boot space to fit the pram, nappy bag and the weekly grocery shopping. They often need places to put children’s drink bottles, baby wipes and other commonly used items within easy reach without them rolling around the car. Still need to be able to park in normal spaces in busy shopping centres.

2. Understanding your customer through empathy

Design research is great for developing a deep understanding of your customer or end user, their needs, wants, desires, rituals, painpoints, work arounds and idiosyncrasies. Using techniques such as observation, interviewing, shadowing and physically putting yourself in your users’ shoes, it is possible to truly immerse yourself in their world and empathise with the person you are designing for. This strips away personal biases and assumptions (which are the result of your own personal experiences and values) and replaces them with a greater appreciation for what the user is experiencing, their actual needs and wants. This type of ethnographic research is especially important when you are designing for people very different from your own experiences e.g. hospital patient, the elderly, children, aid workers in remote areas.

For our car company, they need to understand what a mother is going through as she juggles schedules, temper tantrums, unwieldy prams, shopping bags and so on. By ‘walking in her shoes’, observing her and talking to her openly and honestly without agenda the team discovers that trying to open the car boot in a busy shopping centre carpark when you are holding a toddler’s hand in one hand and bags of shopping in the other is very challenging. They also discover that trying to buckle kids into their car seats requires a gymnast’s flexibility when the car door can only open 2 feet because of the car parked right next door.

3. Reveal deep customer insights

A critical part of design research is analysing and synthesising the information collected, looking for patterns and trends, and telling stories about your customer with the aim of distilling insights into why your customer does the things they do and how their experience could be improved. Opportunities for insights often lie at the margins of potential user groups and the junctions between pieces of information. For example, in the mismatch between how a customer says they do something and what they actually do when you observe them completing the activity. Recognising that what may appear to be a somewhat strange action or work around is their way of coping with a world that is at times confusing, complex and contradictory. Design research helps you to identify patterns and trends which may ultimately lead to deep customer insights that provide opportunities for true innovation. Such insights can only occur with a deep understanding of your customer, their experience and their real needs.

For our car company, they observed that mother’s often got their car keys from their handbags long before they arrived at the car, holding them awkwardly together with shopping bags and children’s hands. Many mothers when interviewed omitted this step from their accounts of what they do. The insight was that mother’s need hands-free access to open the boot.

4. Test assumptions

Research weeds out fact from opinion, heresay and assumption. By speaking with potential users and observing their actions you see their approach, hear their thoughts and reasons firsthand, rather than second or thirdhand. Design research can reveal knowledge gaps and potential opportunities e.g. new markets, new technology, new materials, new processes for further investigation.

5. Creating fertile ground for innovation

Perhaps the most useful outcome of design research is that it sets the stage for creative problem solving and innovation. Innovation is not a lightbulb moment of genius. It requires deep understanding and the ability to make connections between seemingly disparate pieces of information. Only by having immersed yourself in the design research can you hope to uncover meaningful insights (connections) that are the foundation for innovation and creative problem solving.  Ideas do not form in a vacuum of information but from immersion in and exposure to a wide variety of relevant information.

For our car designers, their problem has become focused around designing a car with improved access to the boot and rear seats. They may look into alternative hands-free ways to open the car boot such as voice activation once the key is within a certain range. Or perhaps they will investigate other ways to configure the side doors so that they slide instead of hinge open or move upwards to enable easier access to children in the back seat.

So as you start your new projects this year full of optimism and excitement, don’t be tempted to skip the design research and dive headlong into solving “the problem”. While design can (and frequently does) proceed without the design research, without it, you will struggle to know what to design for whom and why. The result is likely to be mediocre, rather than delightful and engaging for your customer. So set yourself up for success and use design research.

Once you have done your design research and uncovered your deep customer insights, what do you do with them? In our next blog we look at taking your research insights and using them to develop strategies – for the business and the business model, for completing a project or developing a process and for approaching the design of the solution itself.

Image credit: Participants role playing in a focus group on the topic of ‘medical care’. "Research methods for product design" by Milton and Rodgers (2013).

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Santa Claus is coming to town…but how???

rj-watson-santa-sleigh

Ever wondered how Santa fits all those presents in his sack and sleigh? Or how he delivers globally in just one night (FedEx eat your heart out!)? We surveyed 12 children and adults to find out their most burning questions when it comes to the elusive Man in Red. So here we put our design thinking caps on to propose answers to the top 6 questions as revealed by our survey.

  1. How does Santa fit down the chimney?

Many people think that Santa has a “round little belly that shook when he laughs like a bowl full of jelly”, but in actual fact he wears an inflatable suit that disguises the svelte form of a former Olympic athlete. From our research, the word is that Santa was once a gymnast and after his gymnastic career ended he became a contortionist and acrobat for Cirque du Soleil. His flexibility combined with a de-flatable suit means that he can fit through the smallest of spaces, from your chimney to the cat door. We also have it on good authority that Santa can deflate his suit to match the size of the chimney and help control his rate of descent to ensure a quiet landing.

  1. How does he fit all the presents in his sack?

This was a hard one to answer and generated much active discussion. As with many design problems, the solution was not obvious. After much debate two options became apparent: 1) the sleigh is in fact the original prototype for Dr Who’s Tardis, and therefore all the presents can easily fit in here. Santa then simply replenishes his sack with presents after each house call. This has the added benefit of reducing the likelihood of Santa sustaining a back injury due to an overloaded sack. Alternatively, Santa’s sack is like Mary Poppins’ bag that is endlessly deep and can carry an infinite amount of presents while appearing a perfectly normal size.

  1. How does he deliver to everyone in just one night?

The answer to this question has two parts – 8 svelte reindeer and a customized sleigh. According to our research, an interview between Santa and R.J. Watson (2006)1 revealed that Santa has developed a special reindeer feed that stimulates their ability to move exceptionally fast. The feed is made from a combination of “Austrian edelweiss, Canadian lichen, Norwegian oats, Finnish glacial milk, Russian bee pollen, Swedish cloudberries and solar flare”. Watson also reports that Santa has a customised sleigh called “Polaris which is comprised of high-tech and low-tech materials such as foam titanium and comet dust. It is also tricked out with electron injection and a little old gamma ray booster”.

  1. How do the elves get all the toys ready in time?

In the past when the population was less, it was quite easy for the elves to make all the toys themselves. However, with the ever increasing population, the elves have had to change their business model and now outsource part of their operations. The elves now partner with companies such as Amazon and FedEx to supplement in-house toy making. These online partnerships mean that there is less load for Santa to carry as he collects his parcels from designated collection points in each continent.

  1. How does he know who’s been naughty and who’s been nice?

All those Santas you see on every street corner and in every shopping centre are actually part of Santa’s franchisee network who all report back to him. The network expands exponentially during the festive season so that he can collect the needed intel on who’s been naughty and who’s been nice and what’s on everyone’s wish lists.

  1. What does he do with all the cookies and treats kids leave out for him?

While Santa and the reindeer strive for peak performance, they do also let their hair down a little and indulge in some treats from each continent. While Santa would love to share all the treats with the elves and Mrs Claus back home, the increasing incidence of allergic conditions among his elves, means that he is forced to graciously accept the offerings and then uses them to supplement the fuel of the Polaris during the journey.

rj-watson-elf-marblesSo, there you are – some of the burning Santa conundrums solved.

To all our clients, friends and supporters, a Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

Scintilla will be closed from 19th December 2016 until 9th January 2017. We look forward to an even bigger and brighter 2017. And please stay safe.

1 C.C. Moore and R.J. Watson (2006) The Night Before Christmas, Harper Collins

All illustrations by Richard Jesse Watson from citation above. 

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8 reasons to use a qualified designer

2_8-reasons“Design thinking” has become the latest management hype and many organisations are busy jumping on the band wagon, believing they can do it all themselves. But design thinking is not a just part of a management “toolkit” that can be rolled out across organisations to a common recipe. Design thinking is grounded in the profession of design. It is a mindset, a people-centric, empathetic approach to problem framing and solution generation supported by an array of specialist tools and techniques.

Qualified designers complete a minimum of 4 years of training that teaches them core design thinking skills, research and design methodologies and tools and how to apply them to address complex challenges while always keeping the needs of the user at the heart of any design. When you partner with a professional designer, your organisation gains the benefit of their training, knowledge and skills to assist you in getting the greatest value out of design for your business. Just as you wouldn’t use a lawyer to complete your company tax return, or an engineer to develop your marketing strategy, you shouldn’t rely on non-design qualified practitioners to implement design strategically within your organisation.

Here are 8 reasons why you should partner with a qualified design professional to help implement and embed design thinking within your business:

  1. Opportunities not problems – Designers are naturally curious, explorative and driven to solve problems. In fact, the more hairy and complex the problem the better! Designer’s view problems as opportunities and our training has honed our skills in understanding, breaking down and re-framing problems to reveal insights and opportunities for solutions. Where many people see barriers, we see possibilities, where many throw up their hands in defeat, we rub our hands with glee!
  2. Unconstrained Vision – Designers have vision and imagine the future with a sense of optimism. We can imagine possibilities that do not yet exist without being hampered by the constraints of what is possible in the here and now. We can envision new experiences, new contexts and new markets that provide opportunities for growth. We can help develop company visions that inspire leadership, unite people and drive real organisational change.
  3. People driven – Designers are empathetic and have been trained to put people at the centre of all that we do. We are trained to change our perspectives, to conduct ethnographic research in order to develop a deeper understanding of our user, and to iteratively test and validate our assumptions with our user. We are the voice of the customer and advocate on their behalf throughout the process to ensure the final solution delights and connects.
  4. Embrace the unknown – Designers are comfortable working with ambiguity. Ultimately we trust that we have the skills, knowledge and tools to develop the best solution. This means that we do not feel compelled to grab hold of the first solution, but will keep exploring and developing, testing and evaluating until we find the best solution. We strive to push the boundaries of what is possible.
  5. Information integrators & insights extractors – Designers are integrators, capable of working with information from many different sources across multiple disciplines in order to extract meaningful insights and make connections others may not see. We have the ability to recognise patterns and emerging trends and draw parallels between seemingly disparate sectors to recognise opportunities and help drive innovation.
  6. Innovative solutions – Designers develop creative solutions to real problems by applying tools, techniques and methodologies to understand and define requirements, explore solutions widely and deeply, evaluate options, test potential solutions, reiterate designs and communicate possibilities.
  7. Collaborative co-creators – Designers are collaborative and thrive in team environments. We strive to bring all stakeholders along on the design journey to develop a common understanding, co-create visions for the future and build ownership of design outcomes.
  8. Visual storytellers – Designers are visual storytellers, communicating their ideas and solutions through visual mediums that resonate and connect with people. Be it a storyboard, process visualisation graphic, digital interface or physical model, the message is communicated in way that inspires and engages the audience leaving them asking for more.

So, if you’re struggling to gain traction for design thinking within your organisation, reach out to a professional designer.  At Scintilla Design we can help you envision your future, design a roadmap to help get you there and embed design thinking principles within your organisation for a more resilient future.

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