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Kitchen Appliances (large company)

K

Interviewee

153 Designer

Team Disadvantages

0, 1

Project Outcome

Control

Industry

Home electronics/cameras/TV/copiers

Location

Shanghai

Team Risk Tolerance

Team Dynamics

TeamDynamics_FunandProductive

Company

Kitchen Appliances (large company)


Chop-chop, they are. [7220]
I know from some of my classmates which they are working in Shanghai and there are a lot of cell phone design consultancies. They tell me that just one week from idea into model making the final model of a cell phone, just use one week to finish the whole process. It's too quick. [7226]
Well, I think it just now happens in the market because I think, how can I say? I think first of all it's different, well Shanghai have the clients more like the Chinese clients, because China is still a developing country. The time is money. That is why the clients want the time shorter, so they can quickly get a product and quickly produce, sell it on the market. [7225],[7224]
Well, I think it just now happens in the market because I think, how can I say? I think first of all it's different, well Shanghai have the clients more like the Chinese clients, because China is still a developing country. The time is money. That is why the clients want the time shorter, so they can quickly get a product and quickly produce, sell it on the market. I know from some of my classmates which they are working in Shanghai and there are a lot of cell phone design consultancies. They tell me that just one week from idea into model making the final model of a cell phone, just use one week to finish the whole process. It's too quick. Yeah, but the cell phone design is the part that I hate most, yeah, because it's not, no meaning in it, no story in it. Just through different shape or color or material, manage something like that. I also think maybe even international clients come to [inaudible 00:20:17], maybe the time or money will be different, yeah, because they are facing different market. I think the market is the most important part to force the people to do different things [7221]
Well, I think it just now happens in the market because I think, how can I say? I think first of all it's different, well Shanghai have the clients more like the Chinese clients, because China is still a developing country. The time is money. That is why the clients want the time shorter, so they can quickly get a product and quickly produce, sell it on the market. I know from some of my classmates which they are working in Shanghai and there are a lot of cell phone design consultancies. They tell me that just one week from idea into model making the final model of a cell phone, just use one week to finish the whole process. It's too quick. Yeah, but the cell phone design is the part that I hate most, yeah, because it's not, no meaning in it, no story in it. Just through different shape or color or material, manage something like that. I also think maybe even international clients come to [inaudible 00:20:17], maybe the time or money will be different, yeah, because they are facing different market. I think the market is the most important part to force the people to do different things. [7222]
Chop-chop, I get involved into the HR phase and going into people's home and see what they do and cleaning, cooking, everything, and also as a person, I cook and I clean. It's basically, I just can get inspiration from my own experience and from others' experience. According to them, I think we have some interesting ideas, which I think is exciting to explore and make it to a real product. It feels like it goes better than the flash one, yeah. [7223],[7227]
Sometimes I can pick out one thing like, sometimes it be final outcome of a research can be very useless or can be very vague. I don't remember which the project was but I mean, it I was thinking about that project, but there was constant like, I be there for you, be there for you. So it was some sort of like, financial service program, and in the, let's say the bank, larger than [inaudible 00:28:02] from the customer, between the customer and the person who is working there, just get closer, find the touch point, and the ended up concept was like "be there for you" but also like, it's so hard. Be there for you. That's sort of a very vague, general sentence. But it can be one of five final directions, findings, or concept. [6956]
He never got into general bad ideas, or always the final finding was [inaudible 00:29:49], when it doesn't mean it's narrowed down one single detail, it means it was very clear what to do with that. [6958]
So, I don't think it's [inaudible 00:30:01] think that way. So, like some industrial designer or on the design side, sometimes we make joke of how very vague, meaningless the text because we are idea oriented. Also, many, many very [inaudible 00:30:26] guy in [inaudible 00:30:28] yeah that's it. [6957]
So anyway, we got introduced, and they basically asked us to do a product line for them for next year, and they're just basically ... They've had a really hard time articulating what it is they want, they just want us to do a product line for them, something new and interesting. A little bit different from what they've done. [6008],[6007],[6009]
Want it to be a huge success. They originally came to us asking us to guarantee that it would win a major design award. Thankfully we didn't promise that. But they've been very vague. It's like, "Is there a particular market segment you want this product line to target?" "No." It's like, "Well you say you want something innovative, what are you looking for?" "We want the iPod of microwaves." It's like, "Oh man." [6041],[6010],[6011],[6040]
So it's been a lot of managing ... a lot of trying to dial in on what their expectations are and clearly articulating what our expectations are. Because as we wrote the proposal, we were thinking this is just an industrial design language product. We would do five products, we'd make them look similar, they would work together in a kitchen. We'll base it on their current technology, and very straightforward initial design project. [6012]
And then they show up and are like, "We want the iPod of sterilizing cabinets," and we start to get a little alarmed. So it's been several weeks of "You say you want this, we think we've been asked to do this. Can we meet somewhere in the middle, or do we have to re-scope this thing?" [6013],[6042],[6014],[6043]
But they're very tentative. Every time we ask them to put a constraint on this project or draw a box around what this project needs to be they seem to not feel comfortable doing that. They're like, "Well you're the design consultancy, you tell us what we should do." [6015],[6016],[6044]
Which is okay, as long as ... We need to have some understanding of what they're asking us to do, right? [6017]
I think now it's good, but I just feel one problem is the communication with our design director, because he now in America, we work here maybe after two days a week meet just one conference. I think this waste of time. Sometimes it's waste time, because maybe these two days we did the wrong thing, right? If can be work closer, would be better I think. Yeah. [7175],[7180]
So when this client started talking about, "We wanna win a design award," and "We want the iPod of microwaves," we decided to pull in a heavy hitter, and Mike Nuttall is our heavy hitter. So we've got two great designers here in Bo Sung and Hall, but we've also contracted with Mike to basically act as design director. [6018],[6019]
So for decision-makers, I'm the project manager, I make decisions in terms of budget, schedule, deliverables, what we're promising, what we are gonna do, what we're not gonna do. And Mike makes the decisions about this is good design and this is bad design. So it's very clear-cut. I don't presume to judge industrial design, and I can handle the other stuff. [6020]
It's still a little bit unclear. I think there are two. There's the chairman. Chairman Mao, which is awesome. And Mr Jong, who I'm not entirely sure what his title is or his role, but he's basically the one who's responsible for the outcome of this particular project. [6021]
Time, this time maybe a little bit short, but for me, it's okay. [7176]
They both are of this sort of senior Chinese manager ilk, where they come to meetings, they sit very quietly, they don't say very much. But what they do say is immediately ... Well these guys aren't as bad as TCL. There seems to be more of a culture of people saying what's on their mind and expressing individual opinions in this company. Which is refreshing. [6022],[6045]
What's frustrating is my day-to-day contact, whose name is Bo Ni, doesn't seem to be empowered to make decisions. And so we're at a point where we're gonna be facing a situation where we're gonna be rapidly generating ideas, and we're gonna be looking for feedback. And we need to find a way to solicit feedback from somebody who's empowered to give it and help us make decisions, or at least provide a point of view from the client side that will allow us to make informed decisions. [6025],[6023],[6024]
I think the relation is ... the client want to learn a lot of things from Ideo. Sometimes they try to work with us together, but we don't want tell them a lot, because if they know everything about ... that's how to ... Yeah. Sometime, but ... sorry. [7177]
And we need to find a way to do that that doesn't involved calling a major team meeting and inviting the chairman to a formal presentation. Because that's gonna slow us way down, we don't have time for that. So it's a potential problem looking ahead that we don't have a decision-maker in the core team. [6026]
Another thing is language problem, because Ideal is international company, but the clients, sometimes they can't speak English. Like our project manager can't, when he speaks something, maybe translator translates to the Chinese clients. Sometimes it's not very well, maybe miss something, right? [7181],[7178]
Yeah. It's weird. Their expectations are high but their actual tolerance for risk seems to be low. And that they're like, "Well we want the iPod of kitchen products, but it's gotta use all existing technology and it can't cost any more." [6047],[6027],[6046],[6028]
Yeah. I think language is really big problem. [7182],[7179]
Budget and time are very tight, very tight. [6029],[6030]
I think on balance it's gonna work out okay. The up-front research phase was ridiculously tight. And I said so before we started. But was unable to get much done about it. I don't know if it was a contractual hurdle, or sort of a barrier to entry where the client wouldn't sign the contract with such a large up-front research phase before they started seeing design. [6031],[6048]
So the way it's shaking out is we're sort of subsidizing the first phase, we basically went over-budget on the first phase, and the plan is to make it up with slightly more cushy budgets on the later phases. Which is a little bit un-kosher, but if it all works out everybody will be happy. [6032],[6049]
A lot of the brands that these guys aspire to are brands like Bosch and Siemens. But Chinese cooking with the wok, huge woks and really, really high gas flames that you just don't see in the West. And very smoky, very greasy. So the hoods need to be a lot more powerful, they need to trap a lot more grease. A lot of real technical differences that all arise from the cuisine and the culture of China. [6050]
Which is really kind of cool as a design challenge, and fun research. You get to go out and eat a lot of food. So I guess that's the inspiration. [6051]
But what I don't have is that nice, informal give-and-take. And it's partly the language, and partly just the way ... It all derived, I think, from the language. Because I can't really express myself effectively to them first-hand, so it all goes through a translator. [6033],[6052]
And I might prefer to have a relationship where I can pick up the phone and just have a normal conversation and crack jokes or whatever with my guy and have a personal relationship and build trust that way. This way I'm sort of relying on my title and my status to get the trust, which normally I would try to earn a different way. [6036],[6035],[6034]
Just being able to pick up the phone and say, "Hey, we've got this question about ..." Or pick up the phone and be like, "No, we're not gonna give you the iPod, we're gonna give you something else, and this is why." [6037],[6038]
Instead of having to like, how am I gonna say this? I gotta build this argument in such a way that they're gonna let me get through with what I'm trying to say before they cut off the interpreter and start firing questions back at me. [6053],[6039]
Reference Tags
[7220] Risk compensation,[7226] Unbalanced workload pressure,[7225] Cultural differences,[7224] Status quo bias,[7221] Cultural differences,[7222] Planning fallacy,[7223] Confirmation bias,[7227] Empathetic disposition,[6956] Vague goals,[6958] Organizing effectively,[6957] Vague goals,[6008] Lack of real innovation mandate,[6007] Pro-innovation bias,[6009] Vague goals,[6041] Lack of real innovation mandate,[6010] Pro-innovation bias,[6011] Vague goals,[6040] Vague goals,[6012] Vague goals,[6013] Compromising conflict about ideas,[6042] Lack of real innovation mandate,[6014] Vague goals,[6043] Vague goals,[6015] Avoiding conflict about ideas,[6016] Vague goals,[6044] Vague goals,[6017] Vague goals,[7175] Indecisive leadership,[7180] Internal changes/challenges,[6018] Great example - External Influences,[6019] Pro-innovation bias,[6020] Decisive leadership,[6021] Vague roles,[7176] Planning fallacy,[6022] Communicating ideas across domains,[6045] Cultural differences,[6025] Indecisive leadership,[6023] Insufficient Feedback,[6024] Vague roles,[7177] Communication issues,[6026] Indecisive leadership,[7181] Language barrier,[7178] Language barrier,[6047] Finding Existing Ideas,[6027] Lack of real innovation mandate,[6046] Lack of real innovation mandate,[6028] Risk compensation,[7182] Language barrier,[7179] Language barrier,[6029] Lack of resources,[6030] Planning fallacy,[6031] Planning fallacy,[6048] Unbalanced workload pressure,[6032] Lack of resources,[6049] Planning fallacy,[6050] Cultural differences,[6051] Believes one has a hopeful path,[6033] Language barrier,[6052] Language barrier,[6036] Communication issues,[6035] Language barrier,[6034] Trust,[6037] Communication issues,[6038] Language barrier,[6053] Internal changes/challenges,[6039] Language barrier

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