This month’s issue of Fast Company has a really nice profile of designer David Kelley, founder of the design firm Ideo and the Stanford d.School, who has been battling cancer. He’s gone from being an expert designer to being an expert on design thinking by helping companies improve their processes for developing or refining products. One story in particular jumped out at me:
It took Kelley a while to appreciate the power of stepping back before forging ahead. In the mid-1980s, he says, he used to write proposals with the various phases of the process — understanding, observation, brainstorming, prototyping — priced separately. Clients invariably would say, “Don’t do that early fooling around. Start with phase three.” Kelley realized that the early phases were where the big ideas came from — and what separated his firm from a bunch of management consultants. “That moment was really big for me,” he says. “After that, I’d say, ‘No way, I won’t take the job if you scrap those phases. That’s where the value is.’ “
Beautifully said. As designers, we’re so motivated by the desire to do, we can easily fall into the trap of imposing our own will on the design problem.