I recently completed a project where I worked with a team to understand how to make the workplace a more effective/attractive place to be. In the still emerging world of the mobile workforce, people have the ability to chose to work from home however employers are finding that they prefer their employees to be in the office (see: Yahoo). As any good design project begins, part of recognizing ways to attract workers to return to their office environments starts with understanding the current-state.
I interviewed employees, got valuable responses, and shared them with the team. Sharing the detailed insights from interviews across the team helps unify our understanding of the current work environment and lay the ground work for concept ideation. We all understood where our perspectives were coming from and this allowed the group’s momentum to continue forward. As a team, we all have an appreciation for taking the time to fully understand what is going on before jumping to concepting. Unfortunately, many clients do not feel the same way.
Clients have a tendency to be eager to see the final product. This has been the case with our recent project and the quality of our work has suffered from it. Presenting concepts before reviewing findings impedes on the valuable step of taking the time to understand what is going on currently. This leads to a lackluster reveal when concepts are presented. I find clients are more likely to ask “why” in circumstances where concepts are presented before we have developed a foundational shared understanding. This is not the preferred approach but their confusion is understandable.
This would be like if you went in to a doctors office because you were experiencing leg pain and
walked hobbled out with a cast on you leg without ever seeing an X-ray.
If you don’t understand why you have a cast on your leg you might be inclined to pry if off yourself and even repeat whatever it was that put you in a cast in the first place.
Designers should advocate for reviewing findings before getting to concepts. Personas, profiles, interview insight documents, and presentations–there are many ways to do it but packaging discovery material allows complex information to be easily understood and shared. It also helps illustrate the value you have for the work, so the client is more likely to value it as well. Merely talking about findings loosely in a meeting will never have the same impact of showing the evidence and sharing the direct sources of where the insights came from. It provides the client with the material they need to connect the dots themselves in a much shorter amount of time then it originally took you. It also allows clients to diagnose themselves instead of taking a “my word vs yours” approach.
Providing a sense of agency for the client is invaluable.