Marc Stickdorn

Supported by Greenhaven Road Capital, finding value off the beaten path.

Good designs get awards, great designs get ignored.

Design can be physical like a home or office, technological like a user interface or operating systems, or personal like habits and beliefs.

If we reframe everything as designed then we can adopt the roll of designers. Let’s highlight the design process from Marc Stickdorn.

When he gives tours of the IDEO offices, Tom Kelley gets asked where everyone is. Visitors expect a certain aesthetic.

But that’s baloney. Good designers, Kelley said, spend time with their clients, going through their experiences, walking in their shadows.

Stickdorn agrees, “It’s much more powerful seeing a customer failing to use your product or service than having statistics about how customers are failing. We need to prove something is a real issue (quantitative) and the qualitative bits showing why things actually fail.”

In one talk Stickdorn says that good research is about triangulation between three things; qualitative, quantitative, and questioner. It’s a combination of interviews, numbers, and different people collecting data that will give the most accurate view.

After collecting data, good organizations organize it and then present findings and actions. These kinds of meetings require good arguments.

“How do you create an experience where people feel safe and are open enough to share and try out things? Technology won’t help you with that, that’s a human skill.”

In Trillion Dollar Coach, the authors write that Bill Campbell had certain steps that would ensure a good arguments because he told them, “I hate consensus.”

The first was to set the facts, the second was to set the first principles, the third was to establish things they already thought were true. Bill would also frame meetings as debates, not disagreements. Words frame situations and that matters.

Stickdorn gives another tip to argue well – structure. Some parts of meetings should be ‘Yes, and…’ segments. Where, much like in comedy, it’s a chance to broaden an idea into what the adjacent possible or MAYA territory.

But meetings should also include ‘Yes, but…’ where constraints are introduced, limits proposed, and deadlines created. This phase can include creativity too, as constraints help.

However your organization runs a meeting, “When people are involved you need more structure than you think.” And, “The more freedom you want the more structure you need.”

From there, an organization might get something like a journey map. Building on the triangulation of Q’s, an organization has a chance to visualize the customer’s process. However, “A customer journey map is not a fucking deliverable. Many think ‘We buy this software, we do a journey and then we’re done.’ No, you’re not. They should build their journey map on research and not assumptions.”

Design is about action. Stickdorn highlights Alex Nisbet who said, “We are change agents, we are not creators of beautiful tools…it’s about the outcome, not the output.”

Design is making making a change in the world, that takes action.

Stickdorn believes idea generation is overrated. Underrated is shitty first drafts, or in design-speak, prototyping which is just a numbers game with psychological pitfalls. Stickdorn warns against sunk costs:

“If we take one idea into prototyping we’ll fall in love with this idea. We’ll stick with it even though we learn it’s shitty. Through biases we all have, (we will make up a reason) ‘This prototype is not shitty but is actually cool.’ If however, you take a couple of ideas into prototyping and you prototype it quickly and test different solutions you have variants to choose from.”

People compare in relative, not absolute terms. Any lone idea transforms into a (maybe) good idea because it’s compared to doing nothing. Better advice is to come up with many ideas.

Any kind of design is ‘hired’ for jobs to be done. It doesn’t matter what we call it. It could be design, magic, Alchemy, whatever. “People don’t care about service design, they want their problem solved.”

You’re a designer now. Go solve something.

Thanks for reading. Want a week-day email from me? It’s not analysis, breaking news, or statistically significant. It’s just one story that offers a change in perspective. Rory Sutherland noted that a change in Point-of-View is worth 40IQ (points). This email is just that. Check it out.

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