When bringing products to market, no company has money to burn just for the sake of it. In Part 1 of this article, we sat down with Rex Chekal, Senior Product Designer at TXI Digital, a product innovation company specializing in digital health products, to explore the pitfalls of product design — and how not to. not spend an unnecessary fortune on the way from ideas to marketable products.
Rex stressed the importance of spending money on research to ensure there was a strong market for the idea, and how crucial it is to ensure clear lines of communication between designers. and decision makers.
While we had him in the lead, we asked him how to navigate communication pitfalls in product design and how to keep costs under control once the process is underway.
The need for empathy
Imagine a company with a distinct idea and a strong reputation. How do you maintain trust while speaking truth to power if your analysis doesn’t support the design they want to go with?
You enter with understanding. After all, if they are an expert in the field, they may have started their business 20 years ago and found great success.
The problem is that there is a kind of foundational error that occurs in these circumstances, where if you succeeded once, you believe that you will continue in the same vein.
These are some of the most difficult clients to work with. But you need to refocus their energy to get them excited about testing their ideas. Do they still have their finger on the pulse? Can you use this commitment as a teaching experience or, if necessary, an experience of humility? Enter with empathy, so you can change their perspective on the culture where ideas come from and who owns them.
So it’s almost like a kind of mutual job interview where decision makers and creators try to find common ground?
Yes – when we start to engage with a client and explain our process to them, some of the things I look for and want them to look for in us is the culture of the company. What are their teams like? What are the values of the teams? How integrated are their teams, especially in the product design space? All of these things start to talk about the hierarchy in a company’s value systems. So I can start to understand how best to negotiate these waters and do my best.
So, at least when dealing with two companies, having the right corporate culture for streamlined and on-budget product development is essential?
More or less. Technology is everywhere. You can hire companies all over the world, you can have a company in India that just builds what you tell it to build. But to jump in and do some real hard work, you really need to focus on the culture of the company and how it’s going to work. Do they value diversity of opinion, do they value user-centered research? These are the things that will make or break a relationship between makers and product designers.
So, just as the product development process will go much smoother if you do thorough research before you begin, the communication relationship will go much smoother if you feel each other before you decide to work together. , so that your ideas on How? ‘Or’ What work together are synchronized?
Instead. The more layers there are between the designer and the decision maker, the more room there is for feature creep, which tends to cost the company money it was not intended to spend. , and for the distortion of communication, and lack of adherence that can cause.
You said it was important to show empathy. Is it important for communication that enables efficient and on-budget product development?
The dangers of an efficiency-driven business
Yes, but it’s tricky. I feel like companies fail at innovation, and it’s because of this lack of empathy at the top. More empathy usually leads to more innovation because you can put yourself in the other person’s shoes and understand their goals for the product you’re developing.
I think the lack of empathy comes from the fact that the majority of companies are driven away from shareholder value and efficiency gains. This is why companies like Twitter or Facebook, these big tech monoliths, are in an acquisition strategy, rather than an innovation strategy. It is easier to buy a startup that has launched a new product based on a human-centered need than to do so within your own company, because it has obligations to its board of directors.
The road to progress
If we’re talking about communication, and we’re talking about clarity, and we’re talking about empathy, what’s to be done? What should companies ask their product development partners before getting started?
They should ask their partners about their culture and try to understand how they work as a team. What does their process look like? It’s the equivalent of a company first date, so the idea is to get a mutual sense of the culture, the team and the things that drive them.
This two-way process will establish any red flags, any likely difficulties in communication, receptivity to ideas, and any timing issues between designers and decision-makers’ approaches.
Get it right and do some research before the project begins. Establish an ability to communicate and ideally be open to the idea that even though you have a lot of product experience, you may not know enough to guarantee a win on a newly developed item .
Do all of this and you should be well on your way to building a strong, positive relationship between your decision makers and your designers. And once that’s in place, your products should have a streamlined, cost-effective path to market.
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