It’s Friday night and after a long week of work you are eating out at a restaurant. The waiter comes to your table and asks what you would like to have. You describe the dish you want. Showing great empathy and attention, the waiter writes this down and asks for some more details – which type of meat, which veggies you would like in your dish, which cheese you would prefer, etcetera. You become quite enthusiastic and start providing the waiter with all the detail he is asking for. You’re looking forward to this meal!
After having written down your wishes, the waiter goes to the kitchen and explains the chef what you want. The chef is very busy, so instead of all the detail, the waiter gives her the key points: pasta and meat, loves cheese. Starting with a few ideas, the chef starts preparing the ingredients. She is cooking up a really nice meal and 15 minutes later she hands a steaming plate over to the waiter.
When the waiter comes you do not really understand it – this is not what you described when the waiter was asking for all those details… It is sort of in the right direction, but definitely not what you anticipated. Yes, there is pasta, but not the type you like so much. And the veggies are nice, but these are not the roasted aubergines you so love…
Too often something like the above scenario happens in new product development. Multiple parties work on the development of something new, but are not aligned. This is not to say that they don’t do their best! The marketing department is very hard trying to understand the consumer or their customer, and designers and engineers are using everything they have available to create the best outcomes possible. Reality is, insights often get lost down the line and the designer might never have heard of specific information that actually is quite important for the success of the outcome of the product development process.
Also, there are unfortunately often significant gaps between different phases in a project – work might be done across different departments, different agencies and companies. Rich content that would result in very relevant and best-selling products and services is lost in translation. Of course there are practical reasons why certain levels of exposure across disciplines are not feasible, like time constraints, limited budgets or varying responsibilities. But I still feel that building bridges across these gaps would be very beneficial. It is important to be able to translate detailed insights into inspiring stimuli that allow designers and engineers to understand the motivations, desires and situations they are creating new ideas, concepts and products for.
As a consultant at Cambridge Consultants I often work on projects at the front end of innovation – projects aimed to understand where developments go and where opportunities appear. Stakeholder analysis, expert interviews, in-home interviews and ethnographic research provide us with very rich and detailed insight. Only when designers and engineers have proper access to this insight will it really benefit the development of new ideas, concepts and products. To assure a good ‘translation’, we use multi-disciplinary teams containing a mix of consultants, designers and engineers and apply tools that provide ample opportunity for immersion in the available insights.
This spring you will be able to read a few more blogs on how we at Cambridge Consultants are enabling our clients and partners to achieve a better translation of insights into design, resulting in a more successful end product. Let’s collaborate to put a ‘meal on the table’ that exceeds the expectations of your user or customer!