On my previous article, I wrote about Design Principles, what they are, where they come from, how they behav… wait, not a NatGeo show. It is not mandatory, but it is worth reading before you start what follows here. Here is the link: The pursuit of great design [1/2]: Design Principles.
Now, let us go.
When the time to generate ideas and to design solutions comes, you and your team will be guided by the Framed Challenge and by your Design Principles.
The Framed Challenged is the question, the defined problem that you need to solve. You may keep your initial one [if you had it] or evolve it. In any case, it can range from something very narrow and less abstract, like:
…to something broad and more abstract, like
This spectrum influences the variety of your ideas and how clearly you will be able to judge them.
Narrow and less abstract challenges lead to reduced diversity and more ‘acceptable ideas’, while broad and more abstract challenges lead to increased diversity and make room for awesome and terrible ideas.
Being ‘strategic’ is not necessarily about going broad and abstract, but about knowing when to narrow or expand your focus depending on the context.
We have already seen that the Design Principles of a design endeavor emerge from different sources and not only from the ‘Challenge at Hand’.
Looking at your ideas/designs through your Design Principles will greatly help you to:
A simple and powerful way of doing it is to plot the Design Principles of the given design endeavor in a radar graph, a Design Principle Map, and to score your designs according to each Design Principle. In order to reduce your own biases in this evaluation, it is helpful to invite different people to share their perspectives.
It is an insightful framework. It will highlight those designs that cover bigger areas of the graph, therefore, satisfying your Principles at higher levels. It will also point out those which present an unbalanced Value Proposition, for example, being suitable for future customers but not matching the organization’s capabilities and strategies [which, by the way, may imply that such design is likely to be developed by a competitor].
In fact, a great benefit for the designers and the organization comes from the conversations promoted by these frameworks.
Awareness and clarity about the Framed Challenge, the Design Principles, the Designs, and the choices to be made pave the way to purposeful and successful innovation.