The big picture
If you haven’t been sleeping or just resting in the comfort that your organization is doing well, you have already read or heard about Design being THE competitive advantage. How people, customers, users, want more than gadgets, products or services. How they want all that but wrapped up in a nice experience, hence all the buzz around User Experience Design and innovation under the methods of Design Thinking.
So, even knowing that there’s a long way to go regarding the offering of great experiences to customers, most of the time there’s still no real strategy by the organizations.
When a project comes along, stakeholders realize they need to present something new, go mobile, create a new product, innovate, etc, so they tell the project teams to start working on it and someone starts collecting or devising features and niceties for the product, service or App. The solution has to come quick! “There is something called “Time to market” you know! Agile is the way to go!”. Features and requirements are set and sprints defined.
Let me tell you one thing. Great organizations (the ones you read about like Uber, Apple, etc, don’t start projects by collecting features, first they set a vision.
One simple question: Why?
Stakeholders and teams focus too much on the short-term and too little on the big picture. It’s very easy to lose sight of objectives and the greater vision when you have tight schedules and narrow windowed sprints.
Let me tell you this analogy: The pilot asks the co-pilot: “Where are we going? – I don’t know – replies the co-pilot – but we are getting there really fast!”
The “Why?” is lacking most of the time. The big picture, the real objective or goal. The objective can’t be “to have a new product” or “to increase sales”, there must be an end-vision of the experience that organizations want to offer to customers or users. The customers WILL thrive on the experience; they will buy the “why”, not really the product. If you have the chance watch some talk of Simon Sinek on “Start with the Why”. It really makes sense in several levels.
Set clear goals
If your organization’s objective is to differentiate by experience, and experience is the thing you want to differentiate yourself by, you must start every product-development project by setting the experience that you want people to have with your product or service. Craft a Design strategy and involve the designers early on. Forrester Research has shown us that companies that differentiate on the experience outperform their counterparts by over 200%.
Most projects don’t have a clear goal, they are just a set of features. The team should take a bit more time getting involved with the stakeholders, devising a long term Design strategy. That will not only go a long way to help on the experience customers or users will have, but will impact the business itself as well.
The Uber example
Uber first defined the experience outcome, their vision, then designed a solution that is usable, useful, and creates positive emotional engagement. The total experience—not just the app—has inspired customers around the world that used to rely on an old Taxi system.
Because their goal was user engagement they decided that there was a critical experience bottleneck, which needed to be addressed, the user sign-in. Creating a good experience with this usually boring part of the process was the key, to make it not only easy but cool. The same with the credit card system, where the users can just hold the card up to the smartphone camera and the app automatically reads and stores the card’s information, no typing needed!
Uber understood that that was a choke point, that they would lose many customers because of a simple hindrance and they took their time to make an awesome experience, app wise and business wise.
Why are we doing it? What objective? What experience? Those simple questions need to be worked on at the beginning of each project. The product team will be able to achieve clarity on that product’s eventual experience early in the development cycle. This will enable the organization to truly differentiate on the experience. Regardless of the product development process that the company follows, the Design team can help to start a dialogue about your product’s intended experience outcomes among the members of your multidisciplinary product team.
That vision will definitely bring dividends on the long term.