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Posted on by Mike

What Is Good Design?

Working day in and day out with start-ups and small businesses, I often think of how better to help and provide the services they need.  How do I improve MGG Consulting’s offerings on a continuous basis.  You’re hearing the old mantra, “We can always do it better!”

So the challenge is to design an awesome professional services delivery process optimized for start-ups and small businesses.

The Design Must Offer A Lot Of Value

A lot of value obviously means “right” as well as comprehensive, accurate and digestible.  Be comprehensive.  Many small business owners are confused about where to begin amid “so many things required for them to get started”.  So a simple roadmap in the form of a prioritized list of what to do and in what order is a good starting idea.  Be accurate.  Be precise and use jargon-free language.  And finally. your advice needs to be “digestible”.   Keep the tasks and accompanying explanations brief and concise.

Good Designs Are Accessible and Affordable

What good is help to small business if it’s too hard to get and too expensive to buy.  Here the pressure is on the provider to have an effective and efficient delivery system.  Service delivery needs to be fast, complete and especially, thought out in advance.  Service providers are best for small business when they can deliver on a fixed cost basis and offer payment terms to accommodate the cash flow challenges of their small business clients.

Good Designs Make Things Easier

If service delivery is complicated, hard to understand or difficult to implement, it will and should be rejected.  I have worked in, and with, design teams for all of my career.  The best design approaches got easier and more intuitive during the design and implementation process and that’s when we knew we got it right.  Conversely, when our designs led to ever more complex methods and convoluted implementations, we were best served by STOPPING and reverting to a fresh approach.  And, by the way, you need to avoid the stubborn determination that can make bad designs “work”.  That approach leads to very bad solutions that just keep getting worse!

Good Design’s Include Continuous Customer Input

Don’t even think of completing a design without introducing “minimum viable product” versions to your ultimate customers.  Avoid the “great unveiling” in which your intended beneficiaries might exclaim. “What were they thinking?”  Play directly to your audience and not to your own ideas of what you “think” they want.  That guessing game is a huge waste of time and resources when you could have simply asked!  And don’t be fooled by a customer who says they know exactly what they want.  They usually don’t.  Like most humans, they need to see the product they’ve asked for at the earliest possible stage.  This behavior conserves a significant amount of effort by avoiding costly re-work further down the line.

Good Designs Need To Be Tested

You’re not done when you say you’re done.  You’re done when your intended outcomes, think results, are independently validated.  Designers take great pride in getting it “right” the first time.  Smart designers build in the flexibility to adapt their designs just in case, their first shot misses the mark.  It is important to realize that achieving business objectives is a team effort.  The customer, the designer, the tester and the sponsor all contribute to achieving intended results.  They contribute with ideas, competence, flexibility and resourcefulness.

 Good Designs Solve Problems and Generate Opportunities

So when all is said and done, good designs reward you with one or more problems solved or simplified.  And/or may reward you with a revenue or sales lead generating solution.  Or maybe, a good design will lower your cost of goods or your operating costs on a recurring basis.  In some cases, good designs knock it out of the ballpark, so to speak, by being highly disruptive and or innovative.  Think of show stopping designs from Apple or Tesla.

 Better Designs, Next Time

Don’t leave your design after your project is completed without harvesting the knowledge and experience from your efforts.  Yes, even the bad stuff.  Think of it.  You probably have a boat-load of good answers, techniques and lessons learned positioning you for the next better design.  Turn those, “If I only knews” and “If I did this or that differently” into contributions to your future designs.  Being smart is about learning more than knowing.  Be smart!

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