Talking with clients about their own experiences with design thinking, I got some input that I would like to share.
Reality strikes in our daily life when service designers are placed in the position to explain to clients what we do, what the connection with design thinking is, why research is important and how a human centered design approach gives value to businesses.
And there we are, confronted with a series of misunderstandings that are not so easy to overcome.
Fair enough, most of the confusion comes from real experiences from clients with design thinking workshops in which the expectations and measure of success were not set or aligned.
Design thinkers, eager to share their excitement with the process and tools, offer clients fun and out of the ordinary set ups to think about solutions with the catch that to make these workshops happen, they have to do it fast, running to a solution without really digging deeper into the problem, working with assumptions and without engaging the relevant stakeholders.
As a foreseeable consequence, most of these attempts fail to implement any of the solutions that looked like the greatest ideas during the workshop. Unfortunately, this is to be expected. It is very well known how challenging it is to implement new solutions even when the main stakeholders are on board, much more challenging when they are not.
As a result, some clients who have lived those design thinking experiences with excitement at the beginning come to an ending filled with disappointment. They blame ‘Design Thinking‘ or even the workshop format for this misunderstanding when they realize they didn’t develop the wrongly desired -or promised- game changer breakthrough innovation during this one day or one week sprint.
This need of working fast in the first direction that comes to mind, paired with people who think about themselves as the ones that knows everything about the business/customers and delivering what the stakeholder asks for without questioning -or evangelizing- are some of the biggest challenges for any human centered design approach.
I have met so many people with the title ‘UX designer’ who, pushed by the circumstances or without thinking about it, exchanged a user-centric approach to an ego-centric approach: “I am the user”, “I have a son who does this”, “I went to Spain and people do this”, “I have a car” and my favorite comment so far: “Forget about the UX Porn” that someone said to me while I was talking about research.
It is understandable since in most of the cases these reactions come also from bad experiences. The frustration when trying to convince a client to allocate some budget on research without success or the pressure of buzzwords that make designers call themselves UX designers without really believing in the approach or not following user experience design principles
It is a tough call, however, as human centered design professionals, we should keep pushing forward and doing our part to make the Service Design practice be understood and get the place it deserves in the mind and the heart of clients. As we know, companies show love by giving budget, time and people. So let’s keep showing results and let’s keep working to be loved!