ARTICLE Define Success IDEO.org, Design Kit
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SourceDesign Kit (5)
Sit down with your team and map out what Success looks like. Setting key milestones will keep you on course and give you something to work toward. You’ll determine important milestones in the life of your solution and come to understand what succeeding looks like. Think about a variety of time horizons. This resource page also shows what the time needed for this activity, the level of difficulty, the materials needed and participants required.
“Optimism is the thing that drives you forward.” We believe that design is inherently optimistic. To take on a big challenge, especially one as large and intractable as poverty, we have to believe that progress is even an option. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t even try. Optimism is the embrace of possibility, the idea that even if we don’t know the answer, that it’s out there and that we can find it. Human-centered designers are persistently focused on what could be, not the countless obstacles that may get in the way. Constraints are inevitable, and often they push designers toward unexpected solutions. But it’s our core animating belief that shows just how deeply optimistic human-centered designers are: Every problem is solvable.
VIDEO Optimism John Bielenberg, Design Kit
“We may not know what that answer is, but we know that we have to give ourselves permission to explore.” Human-centered designers always start from the place of not knowing the answer to the problem they’re looking to solve. And though that’s not particularly comfortable, it allows us to open up creatively, to pursue lots of different ideas, and to arrive at unexpected solutions. By embracing that ambiguity, and by trusting that the human-centered design process will guide us toward an innovative answer, we actually give ourselves permission to be fantastically creative. It’s not easy not knowing the answer; and even less so not even knowing the right questions to ask. But if we knew the answer when we started, what could we possibly learn? How could we come up with creative solutions? Where would the people we’re designing for guide us? Embrace ambiguity actually frees us to pursue an answer that we can’t initially imagine, which puts us squarely on the path to routine innovation and lasting impact.
VIDEO Embrace Ambiguity Patrice Martin, Design Kit
"Don't think of it as failure, think of it as designing experiments through which you’re going to learn." Failure is an incredibly powerful tool for learning. Designing experiments, prototypes, and interactions and testing them is at the heart of human-centered design. So is an understanding that not all of them are going to work. As we seek to solve big problems, we’re bound to fail. But if we adopt the right mindset, we’ll inevitably learn something from that failure. Human-centered design starts from a place of not knowing what the solution to a given design challenge might be. Only by listening, thinking, building, and refining our way to an answer do we get something that will work for the people we’re trying to serve. Failure is an inherent part of the process because we’ll just never get it right on our first try. In fact, getting it right on the first try isn’t the point at all. The point is to put something out into the world and then use it to keep learning, keep asking, and keep testing. When human-centered designers get it right, it’s because they got it wrong first.
VIDEO Learn From Failure Tim Brown, Design Kit
“What an iterative approach affords us is that we gain validation along the way...because we’re hearing from the people we’re actually designing for.” Human-centered design is an inherently iterative approach to solving problems because it makes feedback from the people we’re designing for a critical part of how a solution evolves. By continually iterating, refining, and improving our work we put ourselves in a place where we’ll have more ideas, try a variety of approaches, unlock our creativity, and arrive more quickly at successful solutions. We iterate because we know that we won’t get it right the first time. Or even the second. Iteration allows us the opportunity to explore, to get it wrong, to follow our hunches, but ultimately arrive at a solution that will be adopted and embraced. We iterate because it allows us to keep learning. Instead of hiding out in our workshops, betting that an idea, product, or service will be a hit, we quickly get out in the world and let the people we’re designing for be our guides.
VIDEO Iterate, Iterate, Iterate Gaby Brink, Design Kit
“I can’t come up with any new ideas if all I do is exist in my own life.” Empathy is the capacity to step into other people’s shoes, to understand their lives, and start to solve problems from their perspectives. Human-centered design is premised on empathy, on the idea that the people you’re designing for are your roadmap to innovative solutions. All you have to do empathize, understand them, and bring them along with you in the design process. Immersing yourself in another world not only opens you up to new creative possibilities, but it allows you to leave behind preconceived ideas and outmoded ways of thinking. Empathizing with the people you’re designing for is the best route to truly grasping the context and complexities of their lives. But most importantly, it keeps the people you’re designing for squarely grounded in the center of your work.
VIDEO Empathy Emi Kolawole, Design Kit
“Creative confidence is the notion that you have big ideas, and that you have the ability to act on them.” Anyone can approach the world like a designer. Often all it takes to unlock that potential as a dynamic problem solver is creative confidence. Creative confidence is the belief that everyone is creative, and that creativity isn’t the capacity to draw or compose or sculpt, but a way of approaching the world. Creative confidence is the quality that human-centered designers rely on when it comes to making leaps, trusting their intuition, and chasing solutions that they haven’t totally figured out yet. It’s the belief that you can and will come up with creative solutions to big problems and the confidence that all it takes is rolling up your sleeves and diving in.
VIDEO Creative Confidence David Kelley, Design Kit
“You’re taking risk out of the process by making something simple first. And you always learn lessons from it.” As human-centered designers, we make because we believe in the power of tangibility and we know that making an idea real is a fantastic way to think it through. When the goal is to get impactful solutions out into the world you can’t stay in the realm of theory. You have to make your ideas real. Human-centered designers are doers, tinkerers, crafters, and builders. We have a bias toward action, and that means getting ideas out of our heads and into the hands of the people we’re looking to serve. We make using anything at our disposal, from cardboard and scissors to sophisticated digital tools. In the end, it doesn’t matter what you use, or how beautiful the result is, the goal is always to convey an idea, share it, and learn how to make it better.
VIDEO Make It Krista Donaldson, Design Kit