Words have power. We associate different terms even if they are synonymous with different meanings, behaviors and attitudes. Somehow, some are more fitting in a certain context than others. Just think of the different forms of addressing someone in an e-mail and how this can give you a vivid picture of the relationship two people are having.
Studio, not agency
We decided to be a studio, not an agency. What does that say about us? We associate certain behaviors and attitudes with agencies that do not reflect our team and our working style. For us agencies are like a genie in a bottle, they fulfil all your wishes. Which sounds awesome at first, but the hook with genies is, that they only give you what you want and not necessarily what you need.
But this is not us. We decided to be a Studio, we want to co-create with our customers and not only for them but for the humans that in the end will be using our solutions. It also means that we are questioning how things are done at the moment and that we create something new not following a standard procedure but being flexible to changes and new insights.
In the end, it is not about the wording, but what is associated with it.
Who you want to be?
In the end, it is not about the wording, but what is associated with it. Of course, you can be a small, agile agency that creates innovative products, but how do you transfer that to the outside? Your name is a sign to your customers and job candidates that shapes their expectations. So, you need to choose wisely who you want to be.
Started by define problems
We reviewed the existing process to define improvement as the starting point of the lecture and setup 3 specific goals for our team to achieve:
Creating a common value/ standard for the design outcome.
Creating agreements to clarify the goal and what is included in the project.
Creating measurement to evaluate if the outcome is good enough.
We learn from other existing business model, which is similar with us as examples to do analysis. We tried to reference some of the similarity process to fit into our team situation and test if that would help us. By applying one of the working process mentioned by Tim Brown (IDEO) to measure if there is any missing parts would lead us to reduce mistakes and errors in our existing process.
Develop the process
Based on the existing situation, we develop 2 processes to fit into the design and development journey. Start from asking a specific question in order to find out the direction of the project as specifications to define what element needed to be measured, after that creating criteria to measure if the result is meeting the requirements.
Design Specifications - Provide explicit information about the requirements for a product and how the product is to be put together as a solution to reduce the misunderstanding between designer, product manager, and the client.
Design Criteria - Create measurements for evaluating goals that a function must achieve in order to be successful in order to improve the design and reduce the risk as much as possible.
Learn by practicing
We did a reflection of some previous projects by applying the new process and see if that would help us to improve the defined issues as an exercise. Therefore we would have a clearer understanding of the process by trying it and testing it.
After we defined the new process, the team will start applying it to every future project/task in order to improve the performance. It might be hard and need extra time to get used to it at the beginning, but we are happy to have a try after we spot the value from the exercise in order to provide a better product to our clients.