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May 2016 – Dylan Evans
Creating products is a team sport and the way we play is constantly changing. As designers, we’re the most comfortable with this and can create a more strategic role for ourselves.
Lean, design thinking, agile and co-creation all afford a plethora of prototyping opportunities which in themselves can help improve our roles as designers.
How can we use prototypes to carve out a better role for design?
John Maeda’s excellent presentation on design in tech outlines how design fits in to deeper roles where we can bring our problem finding and solving skills to bear. Traditionally, our clients and colleagues have seen us as classical design. However, with the advent of ‘digital’ we have now seen our products become ever more complex while maintaining the key necessity of simplicity. We are now needed more than ever to help businesses make sense of their ambitions, and to make technology and data meaningful.
One key to translating this opportunity into a strategic advantage is in our ability to prototype using almost anything at our disposal. The benefits to our users and to the bottom line are obvious, but the effect we have in leading and facilitating our teams in this, less so.
When we prototype, we rightly focus on our users and then gather data accordingly. We create great products but then miss a trick in understanding our impact as designers. When was the last time you gathered information about your prototype’s effect on your team? For example, did you find out if the team’s vision was clearer and more commonly understood — and agreed? The potential here is enormous.
Prototypes aren’t just for users. Prototypes are the glue that binds the team’s minds together in its quest for a solution. Prototypes become the centrepiece of conversation in any funding discussion. Showing not telling is how to get funding. Powerpoint is bankrupt. A prototype is worth a million slides.
Surprisingly, an unsung hero is the concept video. This can take pride of place on your landing page, and it’s amazing hidden value is in how it takes the team through key decisions about what exactly the vision is and how it’s expressed. It’s hard to express just how powerful a tool this is for getting a team’s vision clear and communicable.
So, whether you’ve been creative Paper Prototypes, Wizard of Oz prototypes or software MVPs, here are the four steps to getting a more strategic design role:
- Champion your prototypes.
- Find their impact on your team and your organisation.
- Write the story of how this happened and how great it was.
- Create vehicles for this to be communicated and shared between clients and colleagues, and add it to your portfolio.
What type of strategic roles are possible? Simply, our clients and colleagues get us involved earlier in the process. How early depends. Though the earlier we’re in, the more strategic our involvement. This is a boon given how many times we’ve been invited to the party at the last minute.
Imagine how prototyping can create clarity in whether to fund a new venture or in managing a portfolio. It may be that they use Lean Startup methods, but do they use those prototypes to really create and test the team’s shared understanding? Think of the value that this alone adds to your business. Too many projects hit walls due to teams misunderstanding the vision. The most successful products stem from a clear and communicable vision.
We can go further, and we can change the way we do business. Companies are scrambling to come to terms with the digital age and our role in their transformation is ripe for the taking.
With prototyping comes power. With this, comes responsibility — very often in the form of a strategic role.
Source link http://www.uxswitch.com/4-steps-to-getting-a-more-strategic-role/