You can imagine the meeting. A bunch of folks sitting around a board room type table. Perhaps a white board or a flip chart, some different coloured pens, post it notes – lots of post it notes of different size and colours. And a lot of blank stares. ‘C’mon guys, we need ideas, innovation. The bathroom sink isn’t going to up date itself!’
Different sink shapes get put on post its. Different colours and so on. Then there is a guy in the corner, doodling, looking bored. He gets called on and squirms in his seat. ‘Um well, we could change the plug hole by making it like a button you push to open or close it. We’d reduce the moving parts, maintenance, and breakage.’
After the stunned silence, someone said, ‘That’s brilliant.’ And bathroom sinks changed. No one at any point said, wait a second, so now people need to get their hands dirty to empty the sink? No one said, ‘That’s a bad design.’ Or maybe people did, but the economics worked for the company – less moving parts, less parts overall, and less maintenance. All this meant more profit.
It was an organisation centric view, not a customer centric view. It worked because it was cheaper to make and maintain, which is better for the company. Not because it was better for customer or user.
This kind of thing happens in all sectors of life, including yours. What are the ‘bad design’ things that accepted as the norm in your sector? Where are things organisation centric and not customer or user centric?
Once you see them, it’s hard to unsee them. And that’s one way change starts.