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Stereo headphone (large company)

S

Interviewee

31 Designer

Team Advantages

Team Disadvantages

Project Outcome

Unsuccessful

Industry

Home electronics/cameras/TV/copiers

Location

Chicago

Team Risk Tolerance

High

Team Dynamics

TeamDynamics_Indecisive

Company

Stereo headphone (large company)


And then the hedge fund project came in. Like, oh f*ck. Okay. But we still want to do it because the client is really really nice. He's a super nice guy. And it's just an awesome project. And the first mistake we made was, we put the wrong team together. [2403],[2433]
So, we had talked to the client early on. And he had said, the problem statement was really, "I can't get any product on shelf anymore at the high price points. Help me do that." And we, kind of, said to him, "Well, sh*t you might need some brand work doing. You've clearly got a value proposition issue. And then, actually, kind of, 90 percent of what you make looks like sh*t. So you should probably design it to look nice." [2434]
So, we were really excited. It was a very broad project. But, contained. Does that make sense? It's like, it was one little thing we were going to get [inaudible 00:42:28] And we put this ... oh god, it's bringing it all back now. We put this team on it who ... I'm going to be really quiet because I don't want people to overhear me cussing about it. [2405],[2404]
... who just weren't right. We had a project leader who come from a brand and advertising background. And we were really excited to see her do her stuff in the brand side of this. And we had a researcher who was a very good but, solid functional ergonomics researcher, who's going to tell you what's wrong with stuff. That doesn't fit in my hand, all that kind of stuff. And we had a design ... the two designers who, kind of old school product development designers. And this was all about brand and brand experience. And what's the value proposition. [2406]
who just weren't right. [2435]
And they just struggled from day one. [2407]
"Oh my god. How did we get away with this?" Because this research reports goes through and tells the clients stuff like, "Design matters." It's like, of course, f*cking design matters. They wouldn't be here paying a lot of money if it didn't. "Materials matter", yeah we know. All these kind of truisms replayed back to the client. Just a mess. [2437],[2436]
And then we delivered this research report. And when I looked over it, again, the other day, I was like, "Oh my god. How did we get away with this?" Because this research reports goes through and tells the clients stuff like, "Design matters." It's like, of course, f*cking design matters. They wouldn't be here paying a lot of money if it didn't. "Materials matter", yeah we know. All these kind of truisms replayed back to the client. Just a mess [2408]
And what designers need, as I said, the core. [inaudible 00:44:17] is, you need a brief. And our research, really, is our inspiration brief for our designers. Nothing there to inspire designers. Nothing there at all. So, when we go into the design portion of it, they were all over the place not knowing what to design to. [2442],[2440],[2441]
And what designers need, as I said, the core. [inaudible 00:44:17] is, you need a brief. And our research, really, is our inspiration brief for our designers. Nothing there to inspire designers. Nothing there at all. So, when we go into the design portion of it, they were all over the place not knowing what to design to. And just, basically, spurting out ridiculous concepts that had no meaning. And somehow, I guess I was really busy, Jerry was really busy, we let this go on for weeks. I had a couple of terse phone calls from the client saying they were particularly happy. Wasn't completely happy. Didn't really feel like he was being listened to by the team. [2410],[2411],[2409]
I had a couple of terse phone calls from the client saying they were particularly happy. Wasn't completely happy. Didn't really feel like he was being listened to by the team. PROJECT ID [2438],[2439]
I was trying to work with the project manager who was from a brand background and give her enough rope because she, actually, was my peer in the practice that we had just hired. So, she was a very seasoned, very senior person. We were really looking for her to carry this and show us what she was capable of. So, I didn't intervene too much. It just got to the point that Paula, the project manager, turned around about seven or eight weeks in and told me two things. One, "I'm leaving." [2412],[2413]
So, I didn't intervene too much. It just got to the point that Paula, the project manager, turned around about seven or eight weeks in and told me two things. One, "I'm leaving." [2443]
And two, "I can't get through to the product team. You need to help me." [2445],[2446],[2447],[2444]
Oh she was leaving our company, quit. [2414]
And, you know what? I just can't motivate these designers, our designers to do anything that looks good. [2415]
In the last four weeks, Jerry and I dropped in and scratched through all the research, found a little nugget and with the help, actually, John made some beautiful prototypes. Like, [inaudible 00:46:15] nugget of insight that was around comfort and fit. Which, I'll get back to in a minute. And created this whole design language of products around that. So, everything had this, very clearly spoke to the fact that it was user adjustable. Because the insight there was actually that everybody blames themselves for the hedge funds not fitting. Everyone goes, "This is a little bit bigger than that one." They blame themselves. [2416]
And we killed ourselves in the last four weeks. We wrote off so much money, it's unbelievable. Because we just couldn't see this cool project go [inaudible 00:46:55] And the end result was amazing. [2417]
But, the learning for me there was, A about the team. We pushed the project leader into a space where she wasn't comfortable with. And we didn't put a team around her that could support her. [2449],[2448]
But, the learning for me there was, A about the team. We pushed the project leader into a space where she wasn't comfortable with. And we didn't put a team around her that could support her. The team was still off in their own corners. And if you're going to do that, you're going to push a project leader to lead in a new area, you need people who have experienced that and have done it many times. And we over complicated it. It's a f*cking headphone. [2420],[2418]
We pushed the project leader into a space where she wasn't comfortable with. And we didn't put a team around her that could support her. The team was still off in their own corners. And if you're going to do that, you're going to push a project leader to lead in a new area, you need people who have experienced that and have done it many times. And we over complicated it. It's a f*cking headphone. [2419]
And I look back at my notes and I wrote those words on day two of the project. And, yet, we went through 12 weeks of pain to get back to where we started. And, actually, have been having a longer conversation with people around our IDEO's process. And to say, "When do we decide to ... " How do I put this? Because we have this kind of, very publicized process of ethnographic research to find our insight, synthesis into strategic framework. And then, ideation and all that bullsh*t, basically, all the way through. [2421]
And it's absolutely relevant some of the time. But, the only reason we do research and the only reason we synthesize it is to inspire our designers. So, the question that comes up is, there are certain times when definition of inspiration isn't four weeks worth of research. Inspiration might be going to the shops for a half day. Or, it might be going to a completely analogous conference in Amsterdam or I don't know what it is. But, it's about being inspired. We had inspiration on day one. How do we change our model to be able to sell that to a client? Back to the Paula [inaudible 00:49:13] story. She had inspiration with the Citi Bank logo on minute three and she knew it was right. [2451],[2422],[2450]
So, there's something to be said for ... I would never advocate that in a phase zero project. Phase zero, you're trying to figure out where the edges of the holes are in this cloud of fog. So, you need to be out there sensing the world, sensing the world, sensing the market, sensing, culturally what's happening. So, it has to be research focus to inspire. Otherwise you don't know what the f*ck you're doing. [2423]
In phase one, often, I think inspiration can be completely ... can come from another place. Then, what's interesting is, then, using research as an evaluative tool to check that it's right frequently. I think you can start with, "We have a great idea." Then, you just need to test it. [2452]
Yeah absolutely. Because it was one of those things where you could go in ... it's useful because it allows you to know that you're going to be playing with products that can be made with more expensive materials. You're dealing with the kind of mass luxury of part of the marketplace. People who are willing to invest 100, 200 dollars in a pair of headphones. They care about something. It's not just which ones look best. [2453],[2454]
"Yeah, you need to change your brand message." Well, I can't bloody do that. What are you talking about? Go away." Organizationally, you're not set up to deliver this. With this guy it was like, you know, absolutely. [2456],[2457],[2455]
Well, and, therefore budget. Because we had to throw extra bodies at it. It should have been a sweet little project for us to make a ton of cash from, but no. [2424]
Really good. Spoke to him this morning. I don't know how to say this without sounding completely trite. But our client relationships are the most important thing we have. And you have to work really hard at them. And I respect this guy for what he was trying to accomplish from what he's done with his company to date. [2425]
So, we strained relationships within the team within the community because we didn't set the team up to do a good job of the task that we're given to dates. [2459],[2460],[2461]
So, you can sit there from the outside and, to a certain extent, objectify people and say, "You didn't perform," or "You didn't do this or you didn't do that." But in the cold hard light of day, we put a team on a project that weren't set up to do it. [2458]
We didn't do anybody any favors. So, we strained relationships within the team within the community because we didn't set the team up to do a good job of the task that we're given to dates. So, you can sit there from the outside and, to a certain extent, objectify people and say, "You didn't perform," or "You didn't do this or you didn't do that." But in the cold hard light of day, we put a team on a project that weren't set up to do it. [2426],[2429],[2428],[2427],[2430]
Strong arming it. And then, it became passive aggressive. [2432],[2431]
Reference Tags
[2403] Indecisive leadership,[2433] Lack of resources,[2434] Alignment,[2405] Indecisive leadership,[2404] Promote autonomy & sense of ownership,[2406] Indecisive leadership,[2435] Lack of resources,[2407] Indecisive leadership,[2437] Lack of organizational encouragement,[2436] Vague goals,[2408] Hindsight bias,[2442] Alignment,[2440] Indecisive leadership,[2441] Insufficient Feedback,[2410] Communication issues,[2411] Indecisive leadership,[2409] Vague goals,[2438] Alignment,[2439] Communication issues,[2412] Lack of organizational encouragement,[2413] Man blaming woman,[2443] Internal changes/challenges,[2445] Alignment,[2446] Communication issues,[2447] Internal changes/challenges,[2444] Lack of resources,[2414] Unresolved relationship conflict,[2415] Lack of trust,[2416] Quick resolution of relationship conflict,[2417] Resilience,[2449] Lack of organizational encouragement,[2448] Lack of resources,[2420] Great example - Individual & Team outcomes for future efforts,[2418] Indecisive leadership,[2419] Inexperience,[2421] Backfire effect,[2451] Hindsight bias,[2422] Law of the instrument,[2450] Methodologically creative,[2423] Law of the instrument,[2452] Methodologically creative,[2453] Empathetic disposition,[2454] Listening disposition,[2456] Internal changes/challenges,[2457] Lack of organizational encouragement,[2455] Lack of trust,[2424] Lack of resources,[2425] Empathetic disposition,[2459] Lack of organizational encouragement,[2460] Lack of resources,[2461] Planning fallacy,[2458] Hindsight bias,[2426] Empathetic disposition,[2429] Indecisive leadership,[2428] Organizational encouragement,[2427] Unbalanced workload pressure,[2430] Unresolved relationship conflict,[2432] Forceful conflict about ideas,[2431] Unresolved relationship conflict

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MADISON BARNETT
I get my inspiration from the fictional world. I’m a social geek. Completely exploit 24/365 catalysts for change whereas high standards in action items. Conveniently whiteboard multifunctional benefits without enabled leadership.
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