Fast Design vs. Design Thinking – A New Approach

 In Innovation

It is an indisputable fact that product teams have increasingly reaped the benefits of data science and technological advancements. Yet this has served only to highlight the delays in design aspects of project development. Designers are earning an unfortunate reputation in the design industry for being slow, and in turn for delaying the completion process of projects. This has led to a mindset that the amazing technological advancements in the design industry have largely left the design community’s pace unchanged. This can be frustrating for other contributors in the creation process. This begs the question: if technology is not slowing the design process, what is?

Traditionally, it has been widely believed that creativity cannot be rushed. Albert Einstein defined creativity as follows: “Creativity is seeing what others see, and thinking what no one else has ever thought.” He was also credited with saying that: “Imagination is more important than knowledge.”

This flies in the face of traditional (time-consuming) processes and methodologies of design, which rely heavily on planning, research, exploring and thinking.

Author and screenwriter, Ray Bradbury once remarked, “Don’t think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It’s self-conscious, and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can’t try to do things. You simply must do things.” This certainly is the antithesis of all the traditional tenets of design.

What’s the Solution?

If designers have traditionally relied heavily on careful research, extensive exploration of the design space, iterating on designs, and then carefully tackling draft after draft to render perfection, or simply starting over again, what can they change? Well, what if designers simply fast-forwarded their creative process? What if they relied more on their creative instincts and less on professional knowledge? There is growing evidence that this could eliminate unnecessary steps in the process. Steps that possibly even hinder creativity.

Designers who have courageously embraced this adventurous concept are finding that their work is not only happening a lot faster but also reflects more authenticity. Is it perfect every time? No, but by all accounts, it is always fresh, professional and rewarding. Being hung up on the elusive pursuit of perfect is not only costly when it comes to time, but also utterly frustrating. Allowing your creativity to flow unfettered, brings an exciting energy and fast pace to the design process, that many designers are finding very satisfying. So are the co-contributors on their team. Because time is never an issue when useless in-between steps are eliminated in the name of creativity. This trend is becoming known as Fast Design.

Where do you start?

Firstly, you must be willing to abandon your traditional process. Instead of planning, tap into your gut feeling of what the project should look like and go for it. This may sound scary, but remember that according to Einstein, “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.” Don’t ignore your gift of an intuition.

So, assuming you are ready to embrace Fast Design, what does the process look like?


Identify Your Project’s Core

The starting point is establishing the core of your project. This is its fundamental purpose, message or meaning. This foundation will be your benchmark to ensure that the finished product fulfills its purpose, and will serve as a guide through the creative process. Ask yourself: What must this project say, do or mean? Once you establish that, create around that.

Establishing the project’s core can even be a team exercise. Limit the exercise to no more than 5–10 minutes, and as you brainstorm, consider all possibilities – especially those that conflict with your own thoughts and insights. It’s worth noting that the best data processing technology in the world is no substitute for creative collaboration, so embrace the opportunity.

Giving Your Project Life-like Characteristics

Traditionally, brand definition exercises have been used to define the characteristics of projects and products. While this is helpful, the flaw is that it doesn’t give the project ‘life’. Some would argue that life is a human characteristic. Well, that is exactly the point. Allow your team to have fun exploring the ‘human’ characteristics of your product or project, and how these would be defined or manifested if your project were, in fact alive. Why is this so important? The answer lies in another question: Why are quirky personalities always more memorable? Simply put, they stand out because of their unique traits, and so will your project or product.

Watch the Clock

Don’t allow the pace to slow. Fast Design is exactly that – fast! Do not allow yourself (or your team) the luxury of disappearing down proverbial rabbit holes. Keep advancing with your ideas and follow your instincts. Aside from costing you valuable time, fruitless distractions compromise the buoyancy of your creative process – you should allow it to keep taking shape. For most designers, the prospect of rushing is likely unpleasant. Stimulating your creativity to reach new heights should be challenging and should require you to vacate your comfort zones.

Pulling it Together

By now, you will probably be pleasantly surprised by how much your project has fleshed out. At this stage, see how the life-size vision measures up to your original core. Then you will be able to establish what the actual creative process will require of you and whether other contributions are required. Then, just start and make it happen.

Don’t allow yourself to get bogged down in the constraints of rules, procedures and protocols – just run with it. Professional designers and developers who have applied the Fast Design Process claim to have required ten times less time to execute their projects. That’s hard to argue with!

Mistakes Make Magic

Not initially, but in the long run. There is a wealth of information to be gained from making mistakes. The Fast Design process can be fraught with its fair share of mistakes at times. The wisdom of Albert Einstein supports this theory too! He said, “The only sure way to avoid making mistakes, is to have no new ideas.” Besides, if your project process is ten times faster, you’ll have time to spare for mistakes, when they arise.

One thing is clear – traditional design processes are constricting production time. So, it’s time for change. Turns out, change is a lot more fun than you possibly ever imagined! Fast Design could well be the future. Embrace it as you discover creative strengths you didn’t think you had. At Corporate Alchemists, we are always available to guide you through the process of streamlining your design process to make your company the most efficient it can be. Chat with us today, to see how we can help.

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