What’s your design approach ?

Playful, designful or crowdsourcing ?

Ok, here is some background to the question. It was triggered by a number of conversations I had during the last weeks.

It all started with an interesting presentation at the “Unternehmer Live” series at the Strascheg Center for Entrepreneurship by Philipp Karmires, who is New Business Development Manager at Google in Munich. He presented the design philosophy at Google. (See a similar presentation he gave at Creative Innovation Summit 2012)

At Google 20% of time spend on projects out of the daily work and some innovation rules, create a playful environment to try things out with the assumption that at some point something important will arise. Recent examples are Google Goggles and the Driver-less car.

So this is the playful design approach. Let many smart people in small projects try something out and eventually something great will happen.

In parallel the new book by Ken Segall: “Insanely Simple: The Obsession That Drives Apple’s Success” gives some insight into Apple’s design philosophy around “small teams of smart people”. Designing the end-user experience from end-to-end with a small team – no focus group research – has created some of the coolest and market-changing or rather market-defining products in the last decades.

Obviously the designful approach, with a small and focused team designing the complete product and user experience also works successfully.

These 2 approaches very much focus on small teams of smart people, but as an additional dot to connect to here, I was at an interesting event organized by Lithium, maker of a community and social media platform enabling companies to create brand followers and communities.

One of their key examples of community driven product design – and one that is very close to my daily work – is UK-based Mobile Operator giffgaff. They did not start with launching a service, but with launching a community platform that allows potential future users to define their tariffs and products. Once they had this defined, they started operating their services. Fully outsourcing the product definition to users.

Crowdsourcing product design and innovation seems to become more popular across industries and proves to have some merits.

I don’t have a clear answer on which approach is better, because for all there are successful examples. It also very much depends on available resources, market and industry. Especially interesting for me is to understand,  how these approaches work in the Business-to-Business (B2B) space.

So now back to the questions: what’s your design approach?
(and how does all this relate to Design Thinking ?)

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