!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd"> Streamline Training & Documentation: Design Measurement

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Design Measurement

In April 2008, three HP employees and four employees of Jump Associates1 presented (pdf) to a conference in Paris the story of HP's approach to measuring the contribution of design to achieving the business goals of new-product design projects.

The bottom line:
A well-designed measurement system can serve as both a catalyst for stronger collaboration between all the stakeholders in an organization's product development process and a compass for creative teams to make sure they're heading in the right direction.
The central tool HP uses is something they call the D3 Matrix, illustrated in the graphic below.

(click to enlarge)

Yellow: Design-to-innovate goals
Green: Design-to-differentiate goals
Blue: Design-to-simplify goals

Column 1: Goals related to the development process
Column 2: Goals related to HP's portfolio of products 
Column 3: Goals that are row-specific                            

Each cell in the matrix "represents a strategic design goal that can be pursued on a project." The foundation is the set of goals in the bottom row, which relate to striving to simplify by:
  • making the development process more efficient

  • improving the user experience over a range of products in HP's portfolio

  • optimizing the supply chain in a way that doesn't detract from the user experience
The second tier of goals relates to designing products in a way that further differentiates HP from its competition by:
  • addressing unmet customer needs with compelling solutions

  • coordinating groups of products so they work together better

  • building customers' emotional connection with HP (the "Wow" factor)
Finally, the top tier captures goals relating to using design to innovate by:
  • cultivating new growth prospects

  • creating a balanced portfolio of innovations that foster both short-term and long-term success

  • creating proprietary assets that provide HP with a sustainable competitive advantage
The authors explain that HP has learned quite a bit about how to make sure their approach to design measurement actually works. They offer five best-practice tips — stay focused on your goals, base your metrics on your goals, communicate using a common language, use real-time input to monitor your progress, narrate and illustrate your story — which they explain with admirable clarity.

It is well worth one's time to read the commentary on these tips. A key point is that
for these practices to thrive and become an integral part of a business, they need to operate within a process that's structured enough to drive towards larger strategic business goals while remaining flexible enough to enable exploration, creativity and discovery. Measurement tools can't replace good design judgment. Instead they should add structure to discussions about the value of design.
1 The presentation was titled "The Holy Grail of Design Measurement." The authors from HP were Deborah Mrazek, Sam Lucente, and Steve Sato; the authors from Jump Associates were Adam Menter, Conrad Wai, Katherine Wakid, and Philip Hartley. They were speaking at the International DMI Education Conference, whose 2008 theme was "Design Thinking: New Challenges for Designers, Managers and Organizations." DMI is the Design Management Institute.


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