Design can be thought as disciplined creativity; creativity is just connecting things so the greater variety of things to connect with increases the odds of a new design being truly innovative and facilitating a memorable experience for the customer/consumer/user. Preliminary design can be thought of as disciplined imagination that explores a wider territory to discover insights that lead to more radical products and services and therefore more memorable experiences.
The origins of Design@The_Edge go back to the 1960's when I began to train as an aero-engine designer and came to fruition in the late '90's when I was managing a design process and technology group in a global fast moving consumer goods organisation.
About ten years ago I got really frustrated that so many new product development projects were failing to make it through the funnel; one design house we worked with had been commissioned to work on 21 projects, only one of which made it to market and most of them failing well into the capability phase. In the period 1962-67, at college we were introduced to Burns and Stalker's now classic work on the management of design, very soon after they were published. I was training to be an engineering designer. and so their work was directly relevant to me. Over the next decade or so I met the theories of Maslow, Herzberg, Pugh, Morley, Csikszentmihalyi (chicks-send-me-high), etc., which combined with my experiences of design working across a variety of organisations influenced my thinking and behaviour.
The main insight I gained during this period is that process is important; changing process as new technologies become available is incredibly important and can free up considerable resource to create more competitive products and services. It is the fact that processes are not similar to procedures but are dynamic sources of enabling energy that can continually morph into new forms that gives them the potential to change the world. That is where I directed my curiosity and energies, fortuitously coinciding with the tangible manifestation of Moore's law. Or to put it another way.. by the time we had figurred out what we wanted to do the power to do it was within our grasp.
Recently I discovered Steiner's model (book here) that encapsulated my experience in the formulation that the actual productivity of a group equals its potential productivity minus losses due to faulty process.
Picture uploaded by Neil Rickards. Used with thanks under CC.
In Steiner's opinion:
"How well a group can perform a task depends upon the adequacy with which member's resources meet task demands. How well the group actually performs depends, in addition, upon the willingness of members to contribute their resources to the collective effort, and upon the success with which members coordinate their individual activities. Actual productivity equals potential productivity when their are no losses due to non-optimal motivation or coordination."
Picture uploaded by mallox. Used with thanks under CC.
With this rich soup of tacit and explicit knowledge I worked with a couple of collaborators to develop tools for the new millennium (I can say that now, but originally it was to address our dis-functional team working and the low hit rate of new projects).
Over a period of 6-7 months of working with various project teams we came up with the 4 tools of Design@The_Edge
Design Space enabled team leaders to ensure the right people were in the room at the right time to discuss and generate the right knowledge.. the amount of new knowledge created being some measure of the innovativeness of the new product or service.
Design Pyramid enabled the team to understand the needs of their consumer and to analyse how well they were doing at meeting or exceeding those needs. It enabled teams to identify an ideal (at that moment) consumer experience and identify gaps between the actual and ideal delivery.
Design Diamond helped teams to answer the question "What sort of project are we tackling?" helping the team and its leader to adapt their behaviour to the task at hand.
Design Journey is an acknowledgement that teams have to go on a journey of discovery; what is the vision of the outcome of the project? Where do we all fit in? How are we going to achieve the best outcome? How far have we travelled toward that goal?
Since that period of activity we have also added Design Fast Action which enables the team to rapidly create tangible (digital or physical) artefacts (prototypes) that ask questions to discover and validate the most promising routes to solve the problem and then ensure viability of the solution itself.