What is Design, Anyways?
What is Design, Anyways?
Design is a way of solving problems in the world, a way of making the world right. In order to effectively do that, designers have to be great at the three parts of the innovation triad.
If it doesn't meet human need, it's just a hackathon project. This is where real innovation starts, finding the real needs of a particular group of users/customers/citizens/humans through empathy building qualitative research. Gaining a deep understanding of human needs requires the designer to get up close and personal with the people they are trying to help. Once those needs are understood, the designer builds prototypes to continue to learn and iterate towards a meaningful solution. This part of the triad can often be emotionally trying as the designer deals with the pains and the joys of the human experience. Not for the faint of heart as this part is a full contact sport.
If it can't be built, it's just art. True innovators must understand the capabilities of modern technology in order to imagine new possibilities and to play within the constraints. While designers may not need to know the ins-and-outs of every piece of technology out there, being keenly aware of technological innovations is vital to successful innovation. Designers must push past the hype around certain industry buzzwords or flashy trends, but thoughtfully analyze every new advancement to understand the new capabilities and constraints that new tech brings.
If it doesn't add business value, it's just a waste of time. Even if a solution is feasible from a technology perspective and desirable from the user perspective, if it is not sustainable from a business perspective then the solution might as well just have not been built. True innovators must always and often consider the greater business, organizational, or political goals at play in any initiative. These goals act as guides for the designer and remaining intimately aware of them is entirely necessary for an innovator to create real impact. One does not have to posses decades of deep-level business knowledge to innovate successfully, but must always think beyond the user's needs to how their solution will exist in a broader, complicated system.
WHY THE TRIAD?
Innovators want to create lasting impact and designers are evolving beyond mere form-giving to be considered leaders of innovation. Today's designers must have proficiencies or, at least, keen awareness in each of these three areas to truly make the world right.
WHERE AM I?
I see myself at the middle of the triad. Though still young in my career, I have had deep and meaningful learning experiences in the design, technology, and business worlds. I get fired up working at the intersection of all three, because I know that it is then that I am creating lasting change.
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