2020-10-29 / Javed Chishti

The design world has almost come full-circle. There were times when design used to be complex and cumbersome and it was so detached from the actual implementation irrespective of the nature of the product. One of the biggest reasons for this detachment was perhaps the methodology followed which is most cases was hierarchical/staircase/waterfall. Since, what we call the earliest industry was essentially assembly-line, most processes in parallel or allied industries were subconsciously designed with similar trends. While this still suits some industries in the manufacturing world, it could not have been the right recipe for many others. The realization was relatively slow and each industry learnt its own lessons and gradually developed more efficient and industry-specific processes with time. With competition ever increasing with time and multiple players stepping into the market with similar products, speed to market has become the key mantra to success. To achieve speed and efficiency, companies had to resort to fast paced cycles with quick feedback loops to achieve near perfection in limited amount of time. Collaboration and agility have knowingly or unknowingly been adopted and embraced by organizations irrespective of the industry type. So, if we are to summarize the key commonalities in today’s design, we can pick a few easily: Reduced Cycle / loop time: Using iterative cycles where there are smaller goals for smaller cycles, the speed to market is achievable. While this may not suit all industries especially production, yet showing something with a promise of “more to come” will ensure you stay on track. The key to success here is having someone who can identify/create these goals and the pathway that ultimately leads to the final goal (finished product or service). The challenge is also to manage any deficiencies with the previous cycle alongside the new one. Therefore, keeping quality control almost water-tight will help with a solid and implementable process to handle such scenarios well documented. Collaboration from get go: Instead of detaching different work areas, you bring everyone onboard from the very outset so that everyone stays on the same page at all times thereby reduced learning cycles and avoiding confusion. This also ensures folks whose tasks are down the line stay on course with regards to expectations and delivery goals. From the design perspective, your vision needs to be well understood by all areas from the very beginning and any changes at any point in time need to be communicated to all the areas so that every area can gauge the impact and expectations are reset as per the designer’s vision.