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Our Main Takeaways from Design Disruptors


At Jayway's internal competence weekend in Örenäs, a mixed crowd of designers, developers, sales and team managers had the chance to be amongst the first to view Design Disruptors at a private screening of the much-anticipated documentary.

The overall impression of the film ("Inspirational!") was quite positive. It felt like "A huge pat on the back for designers worldwide" and even some developers "...want to become a designer now". Although there were some points of critique as well, and truth be told "the documentary could have been a lot shorter".

After the discussion, I asked all participants to individually write down their main takeaway. All input was used to construct the following summary, for those who missed the session and for everyone else!

So, first of all, for those who expect a 'how-to' tutorial to become a disruptive force in business, this is not it. "How do those disruptive designs emerge? What makes one design more disruptive than another? This movie didn't get you that answer, or even what we're currently doing within design to make it disruptive". It's a shame the film didn't go deeper into this, what were the creative processes at, for example, Über and AirBnB that lead to disruption?

But perhaps that's not the point after all? Rather: "Don't try to design something disruptive. Find solutions to pain points or problems people are struggling with every day. Then you have a good chance designing something disruptive".

So how do you find these? Design Disruptors visits world-renowned, design-led companies to discover "The atmosphere for creativity." One way is to go out and "Travel and be/get inspired". Another way is to actively confront yourself with real-world struggles that many users face every day. An inspiring example was Facebook introducing '2G-Tuesdays'. Here, employees are invited to switch to a simulated 2G connection for 1 hour to experience the product/service in the same way users from emerging markets do. Or basically anywhere with a slow internet connection... "2G-Tuesdays allow designers and engineers to experience the pain points that many of the real world users have." And so, "Don't forget the user's ability to absorb new tech or their context of using it."

One of the memorable quotes from the film states it more critically: "If we forget about the people we are designing for, we are no longer designers – we are makers of stuff." "Design must evolve/move forward in the digital era."

It was emphasized once more "That powerful design needs to be simple. Abstract the complexity of software and reach a wider audience, where everyone can intuitively use the product." While many clients might keep stuffing the backlog with ever more feature requests it might be "Taking things away that makes good design, not adding things."

Besides a growing love for minimalism and simplicity in our sketches and wireframes, the film is also a "Good reminder that designers should not just focus on the aesthetics or the tech, but should also think business and customer experience beyond the product we design". Namely illustrated by the example of AirBnB that does a marvelous job at plotting and investigating all consumer touch-points when they planned out their much praised brand experience. "We shouldn't fall in love with what we create" but remain humble, listen to our users and stay eager to improve the customer experience wherever we can.

In an extension of this, we learned about the story of the Pike and the Minnow. Did you know why so many of us are suffering from 'Pike Syndrome'? Named after the experiment that is explained in the video below (in 'authentic' definition).

The question here might be: "How do we help users to un-learn bad interaction behavior?" "All fancy titles a designer can have, confusing everyone, can boil down to 'problem solver'."

One of the participants already found the inspiration to be actionable: "I've gotten the energy to make something to take away a pain point at Jayway (time reporting, for example)."

One participant concluded Design Disruptors to be a "Great movie of disruptive design – in San Fransisco. But how about the rest of the world...?"

So with that in mind, I will leave you with this: How disruptive are we at Jayway?

Dennis Overhage