But Why? Clearing the Way for Innovation
When we were kids, we used to question everything! “Why is the sky blue?”, “Where does the sun go when it’s dark?”, “Why can’t I see my eyes?”.
But, as we get older, we’re taught not to question. Don’t question your parents, don’t question your bosses and don’t question authority. Sometimes, there’s a very good reason and it’s only healthy to respect the status quo, but it can be a real barrier to innovation.
A Great Example
We’ve all heard of James Dyson. His ground-breaking vacuum technology made him a household name, and a personal fortune of around $5.6 billion in the process! Back in the late 70s, he bought a top-of-the range vacuum cleaner, but quickly became frustrated by its lack of suction and poor performance. Being an engineer, he quickly set about pulling it apart and noticed that the bag had become clogged with dust; a fundamental design flaw that had gone unquestioned for almost 100 years! Around 10 years, and 5,127 prototypes later, he had reinvented the vacuum cleaner. And all because he questioned a long-standing idea!
Just because something’s always been done a certain way, doesn’t mean it’s the best way.
Good questions challenge assumptions and lead to new discoveries and innovation. The trick is to ask the right ones. Having worked in product development for many years, I’ve found that customers often have a preconceived idea of how their new product should look, function and feel, even before our first meeting. And that’s a perfectly natural thing! But in my experience, the best ideas are rarely the first ones that come to us. They have to be teased out and then nurtured. That’s why it’s important to think about what you really need the product to do. Forgetting all the specifics, what basic need are we trying to address? By paring an idea back to the bare basics, we open the door to explore each and every possibility, often discovering something remarkable and unexpected in the process.
The Right Questions
Asking the right questions allows the designer to produce an accurate and effective brief, ultimately leading to a final design that meets the needs of both the customer and end user. In fact, asking good questions can sometimes allow us to meet other needs that we didn’t even know we had!
A crucial skill for any successful designer is the ability to gather information from a variety of sources. Often that means working with industry experts to better define a product’s requirements. This helps ensure we’re designing the right product for the market. The aim is always to ask open and thought-provoking questions that encourage people to see the problem in a fresh way.
We all approach a situation with preconceived ideas and we view a problem through the lens of our own personal experience. But preconceived ideas block our ability to think freely. In order to find gold, we need to break down those barriers and see things from an impartial viewpoint. By asking open and fundamental questions, we can let go of our own assumptions, unlocking the door to all sorts of previously undiscovered solutions.
Over to you
Are preconceived ideas holding back your business? Perhaps, it’s time to start asking new questions. We’d love to meet up for an informal chat, so why not get in touch with us at email@example.com.
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