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The creative process, challenge, definition, solution

How do you solve a problem like Maria? Or any problem for that matter? The British charity called Design Council has identified a method to “make life better by design.” They are an independent charity and the British government’s advisor on design. Their vision is “a world where the role and value of design is recognized as a fundamental creator of value, enabling happier, healthier, and safer lives for all.”

Based on a study of successful corporations like Microsoft, Sony, Starbucks and LEGO, the Council discovered that across all companies, the creative professionals went through the same steps in search of solutions. Each company had their own name for this process and each company did it in their own particular way, but their creatives all went through these stages whenever they were trying to solve a problem.

At New Target, using the double diamond method allows us to understand you, our customer, and your concerns which is key in providing you with creative and innovative project solutions.

THE FOUR PHASES OF DOUBLE DIAMOND

Discovery

What’s the problem we’re trying to solve (this is a deep dive into the problem)? Discovery is all about user research and market research which produces lots of data and hopefully some keen insights. But isn’t the problem we’re trying to solve quite obvious? Not always. You might have a basic problem that enough visitors aren’t coming to your website or that children under the age of 12 are becoming obese. These are manifestations of the actual problem which may take some sleuthing to discover. We empathize with our customers to help discover problems in order to come up with the right solution for you.

Keeping your mind open to all possible solutions was found to be crucial to ensure maximum creative problem solving. All the successful companies were user-oriented in this phase, which translates into focusing on users’ needs, wants, and behaviors and they would get their designers closely involved in the research process, bringing the design team face-to-face with end users.

Starbucks, for instance, have their designers spend a month working as a barista before designing anything. That’s probably where the idea for the cardboard sleeve came about, when the designer burned their hand on the first cup of coffee they served.

Definition

Using the information from the discovery process, the definition stage seeks to synthesize the information into a tight definition of the problem. It takes these insights and data and uses them to further refine any initial assumptions while filtering through all the information you got from stage one, and elaborating on it. This might mean identifying bottlenecks or resource waste, or seeing hidden opportunities.

At this point, we need to determine what can be done that will make a difference but that is also within the known constraints.

The definition stage ends with a sign-off from the decision makers. Here, top management either ends the project or approves of it and gives it the resources needed for it to carry on.

Development

What are some possible solutions? Development seeks to provide a variety of answers to the problem identified in the definition stage.

The development stage involves putting the designers together with engineers, developers or other departments that have the needed expertise. Using the whole team from across different departments not only brings in different perspectives but it speeds up the entire problem-solving process. Often what one can design and what one can manufacture are two entirely different things and by including the folks from the manufacturing plant in the process, you avoid potentially expensive mistakes. As a team here at New Target, we will work with you and consider everything; remember, there are no bad ideas!

The study points out that continuous testing and feedback are common throughout the development stage in the model. Microsoft’s philosophy is that designers should “eat their own dog food” which means designers are to use their own creations in their work, so they can be in the user’s shoes.

Delivery

Delivery involves the work of testing the solutions on a small-scale to take one last look at the product to make sure there are no issues with it. This includes testing it against any regulation and legal standards, damage testing, and compatibility testing. Then the best solution is picked and built upon. The idea is approved and then launched.

We also use this stage to assess the impact of the design on customer satisfaction, in order to quantify the value of good design for the brand. Throughout the process, the companies in the study took seriously the idea of feedback loops, refining and improving at each step of development.

CONCLUSION

The Double Diamond model is a framework that we use for a variety of industries from for profit to nonprofit. It’s much more than a simple tool for us, because it can be applied to any problem that calls for a solution. Gleaned from the actual processes of highly successful companies, it’s a solid model for imitation. Here at New Target, we use the double diamond method for a variety of projects including strategy-intensive projects, brand and product development projects and campaigns; basically any creative project. By employing this strategy, we can assist you in coming up with creative solutions that excite you and your customers!

A global team of digerati with offices in Washington, D.C. and Southern California, we provide digital strategy, digital marketing, web design, and creative for brands you know and nonprofits you love.

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