Why Designers Need to be Involved in Research and Strategy

August 29, 2012

Several years ago there was a shift within the product development process. For a number of different reasons (cultural + technological) the role and definition of design within organizations began to change. What had previously defined industrial design was no longer relevant and for a number of different reasons, organizations began to look to design and design thinking to lead the product development process. This new opportunity for design to integrate with research and strategy and directly influence business decisions was the catalyst for a major change in the design industry.

Fast-forward to current times and most design centric companies offer research and strategy services as a core competency. As consultants, we each have our own unique approach to these fields in order to best serve our clients’ needs, but the differences can often greatly influence the results. We believe that the strength of having research and strategy carried out by design is not only in the fundamental difference in approach versus marketing, but in the more basic day-to-day interaction of key stakeholders to the product development process. The ability to keep findings, insights, patterns, etc. at the forefront of a design program is essential to driving innovation throughout the product development process. We believe that keeping all the stakeholders engaged on a common storyline is the most crucial point to having design firms carry out research and strategy programs.

Nearly everyone has played the telephone game at some point in their life: your friend comes up with a story or phrase and begins to pass the statement down the line of peers until it reaches your ears in some variation of the original. At Beyond Design, this is the issue we are trying to negate – one group identifying the market, another recruiting participants, and yet another tabulating findings into an actionable insights. We believe that the main benefit in having designers involved in research and developing design strategies from the beginning is the reassurance that nothing will get lost in translation in the development process. We are very careful to have engineers follow our research findings and to have strategists themselves involved in brainstorming in order to ensure that the rich data we collect as design thinkers does not end up stagnant.

Whatever the program or budget, we believe the need to have all stakeholders engaged in a product development program is crucial to successfully capture research insights into tangible experiences.

Written By: Patrick Nally, Industrial Designer

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