Understanding and Design Thinking…

Agile Marketing Circle

By Eric Schmidt

This is an awesome blog post from IDEO – especially if you read it from the context of Marketing?

Many businesses are in touch with their customers from an information perspective, but not necessarily an insights perspective. The purpose of insights is to connect head and heart knowledge—information plus inspiration. Too often, information just describes phenomena with no clear path of what to do with it. But the best insights reveal behaviors or phenomena and point to solutions or ideas. And because insights are grounded in human needs and desires, they lead to ideas that create value in people’s lives.

Insights move you from knowing something to wanting to do something and create inertia for all functions of the business to want to take action—from designers and engineers to marketers and strategists.

The quality of that understanding is foundational to your effectiveness in making positive change. And when that understanding is superficial, flawed, based on limited experience, mundane, or not shared by others, it will undermine your good intentions. In contrast, insightful understanding is a powerful leaping-off point for great design.

We put this rather oversimplified logo together about 4 years ago to help our team understand how we needed to work. And even though it’s a circle, everything that we did needed to start with Understanding. We took the time to Understand and ultimately we measured and tweaked, if needed.

This became fairly common for us and was just the ‘norm’ in terms of how we operated.  Fast forward to today and we are about six weeks into our journey with OneDayOne and I am quickly finding out that the notion of starting with Understanding is really not the ‘norm’.

Another quick discovery for me was just how bad the reputation is for Marketing firms, in general (yes, I know, that is a very broad statement – work with me for a second).  Many companies are just not seeing the value from Marketing or Marketing firms that they should be. I can list off 4-5 examples in our brief history.

It made me start wondering if the two aren’t linked in some way.  Discovery seems to be a fairly well accepted, expected and understood method of kicking off a consulting engagement.  However, Understanding (or ensuring there is true insight – see above) does not appear to be accepted. It doesn’t appear that companies are willing to include or pay for that portion of an engagement.  Is that true? Or are Marketing firms not even trying to include that?

And if that’s not part of the engagement, is that why so many firms fail to deliver the measurable results or impact that is expected?  Can you truly deliver awesome, impactful content or an incredible website (both from an experience and from a results perspective), if you don’t have that Understanding or Insight?

Like I said, we are still only 6 weeks in and so at this point – that thought is essentially a hypothesis right now.  I will keep you posted on my findings. Until that time, we will keep driving hard and trying to get Design Thinking (or Human-Centered Design) to be more synonymous with Marketing – not just Innovation.

In that spirit, we have developed a class/workshop – link can be found here.  Please let us know (in the comments) what you think about the class and about my initial hypothesis.

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