Words have meaning. Words can be defined in many ways – and can be misinterpreted in just as many ways depending on the context in which they are used. Have you ever had a conversation about ‘design’ with a development team only to find half-way through the conversation that you are talking about the UI and the Customer, and they are talking about the design of the database structures, the code, or the technology stack?
Let’s consider for a moment how many large organisations are coming to the realisation that their size, legacy and ways of working have industrialised the ability to think and act creatively out of their businesses. They study start-ups and create innovation teams to try and emulate some of the practices they deploy to disrupt service, products and business sectors and they study agencies to understand how to create people and culture programs to engender better ways of working for their employees.
Over the years I’ve seen the approach to innovation vary in organisations. Where organisations are design-led an innovative approach is part of the cultural fabric or ethos of the organisation. This can be seen in organisations like Apple and Tesla. It can also be seen in many start-ups, where a founder, in pursuit of defining a vision sees obstacles as challenges to be solved and the perceived risk of large organisations as opportunities.
Micro experiences can be delightful artefacts to design and use. They are designed with care and crafting and seen as completely standalone pieces of functionality that are meant to delight in their simplicity and usefulness. But how standalone are most pieces of functionality? How often are these small, simple pieces of functionality part of a larger User Experience?
I find myself using the word “narrative” a lot lately. Whether I’m talking about UX and the cohesion of design, or CX and the importance of journey mapping, or agile delivery and the breakdown of epics and stories into sprints. You see… I’m one of those closet dreamers who took a break from their career to earn a master’s degree in creative writing. I’m a closet wannabe novelist working out my frustrations through wireframes and design.
“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail Better.” Samuel Beckett Fail fast is a nice alliteration – which is one of the many reasons I think it has gained such momentum in the product design space. “Succeed fast” or “iterate quickly” doesn’t roll off the tongue nearly so well. Fail better seems only moderately more hopeful. How many times can you fail fast before you need to succeed in something? Small organisations – e.g. start-ups – might be better positioned to fail fast – if only because their idea-to-launch cycles can be quite short, and the ability to pivot more easily done.
It’s a cool, sunny late Autumn Sunday morning. You live in the countryside; the nearest village is a mile away. It’s been a while since you bought a Sunday paper. But for some reason, you want one. Instead of getting in your car, as you normally might to do to drive the mile to the village to buy milk or go to the pub, you decide to walk. There are paths through the fields behind your house that take you to the top of a hill and then down to the village – which is actually less than a mile to walk.
When car manufacturers design a new automobile, they develop requirements, conduct research, draw designs, make scale models, test scale models in wind tunnels, computer model their ideas, build full-scale prototypes, test them, and iterate the designs – all of this before putting them into production. What they don’t do is go right from drawing them on a piece of paper or having a pocketful of highly subjective ideas to putting them into production. So they don’t base their decisions on a paper prototype or a list of personal ideas. Why? Because a car is a 3 dimensional experience. It is an experience of the senses. It is an interactive experience. You really need to understand it before you put it into production. Mistakes carried through into production would be costly.
So, I feel caught in a language loop recently. I talk about (and practice) User Experience. I do these things in the digital/mobile space. And really, I’m mostly focusing on good, strategic paths to design. But all of it is an illusion. User experience is pervasive. It is ubiquitous. Like air. And I don’t design air… I breathe it, I need it to live, I experience it, it’s all around me. It’s ubiquitous too. User experience is about more than just digital experiences. If we accept that it is pervasive, ubiquitous, we have to accept that it extends well beyond our digital boundaries. But we most often hear about “UX” in relation to developing digital experiences.
I came across this again the other day. I’d forgotten about it – which in its own way is one of the lessons of the video. Every time we stop to play, and allow ourselves to be creative in our thinking, we all too quickly become adults in implementing it. This is a reminder not to stop playing.