Asking “Why?” Always
As an external designer being introduced to a company– I’m met with company culture all the time and I study it first– here’s why. Just like people, companies have habits, some good, some self-defeating, it gets set it in its ways– just like we are as people, it’s in our nature as humans to “habituate”.
Designers who practice the “design thinking” discipline are inquisitive in nature, looking for ways to keep improving, which also includes how people interact at work. It’s not uncommon for me to be met with responses like “this is how we always do things” or “ I make the decisions here so no meetings are necessary with stake-holders” or sometimes “ …let’s not waste time challenging the process and just do it like always”. Perhaps this is why contractors prefer the freelancer route so that license of objectivity is exercised and be free from office politics. I believe that good designers are quick to understand how a company makes decisions, be it a consensus-based or hierarchical-based. Once we understand this orientation it would be far easier to tailor solutions to problems, to influence decisions which would ultimately affect design.
Communication on ideas and processes are literally food for designers – It’s my belief that it’s the designers’ role to keep digging into how we can make things better, to design better products– be it a UI (User Interface) or ANYTHING customers are interacting with (for an experience). I remember as a child driving my parents crazy with follow-up questions and finally get the definitive “..It’s just the way it is, just accept it”. As an adult now, I think a simple “I don’t know” would be more constructive. I say this with love to my nephews now =)
One good quote from an excellent book called “Emotional intelligence” by Daniel Goldman:
“ It takes intelligence to answer questions…but it takes real training & discipline to ask THE question”
If a company values innovation then I strongly recommend seeking a trained designer into the leadership team. Design is a problem-solving process and the first step to the solution is to probe the “why?” again and again until you strike gold. I believe this one designer speaks well on this topic in the below TED Talk segment–way better than I could in 15 minutes. Worth a watch!