How can project-based teams and leaders within large organisations accelerate their work and value, to align with the pace of change in the external environment?

This article looks at the power of ‘making things’ to:

  • Drive faster and more informed decision-making by project sponsors

A designer thrown into the world of big business

Several years ago, luck and fate combined to propel me from working within a design and branding agency to working within an Innovation Team in a large Government organisation.

The agency environment had been fast-paced and highly focused on delivery. Good…

Image from Unsplash by

Design is as much an art as it is a science.

You can follow best practice, stick to the methods, follow a process to the letter, but, more often than not, it’s not that simple (and nor should it be).

When you face a time in a project where you don’t quite know where to go next, my hope is that this is because you have decided to be a pioneer and forge new territory.

This is when not knowing is good.

Daunting, but good.

If this has ever been you, well done — you are an explorer.

So, what…

The unique environment caused by COVID-19, which has seen my design team shift from strategic to short-term critical response projects, has revealed the benefit of thinking short and long concurrently.

Short, being ‘how can we develop a solution that meets the immediate needs of our business’?.

Long, being ‘how can we use this short-term solution to probe, provoke and validate a longer-term, strategic change’?

An example:

In my team, we were reassigned to focus on enabling our frontline workers to continue their important work under the restrictions of a state-wide pandemic lockdown.

This naturally looked at digital solutions to enable…

I spent the early parts of my career working in design agencies, designing packing, identities, websites — laying out every document you can imagine.

I could hold my own, but my passion just didn’t lie with mastering the visual craft.

I found myself feeling like the work I was doing wasn’t rewarding.

I was also working long hours and to tight deadlines (with a salary that left a lot to be desired). It was fun but not meaningful.

Something was missing.

I had always been interested in the strategic side of design projects — what are we trying to achieve…

Design as a practice has great value to offer businesses, but too often it fails to reach its full potential as the value gets lost in translation within the myriad of stakeholders initiatives must pass through.

This is literally a translation problem — two people speaking different languages and unable to understand one another.

If we, as designers, want to reach our own full potential we must be able to influence decisions and action outside of our own patch, all the way up to the senior or executive leadership.

So, how might we solve this translation problem?

Well, we can…

No, that’s not a typo.

It’s a concept that will change your approach to designing products, services or even new business by changing the question you ask from ‘could’ to ‘should’.

‘Pretotype’ is a term coined by Alberto Savoia, joyously explained in his video that explains both it and his concept of ‘the right it’.

A pretotype is fast, low fidelity version of your concept — be it a product, service or business — that is just complete enough for you to generate real, data-driven validation.

It generally differs from a prototype in that it seeks to answer the question…

Photo by Samuel Wong on Unsplash

COVID-19 is a tragedy. No words will do here.

But, times of crises also present once-in-a-generation opportunities to drive change for good.

This is a call-to-arms for all people who can influence change to consider the future, to identify a vision for how the future should be better following this pandemic and to both design and lead towards this future.

Leading change requires new energy, new mindsets, new approaches. It requires the bravery and foresight to challenge and question everything.

Are you willing?

If yes, welcome to the revolution.

On Tilt Shift, experienced design leaders share experiences, perspectives and insight…

David & Goliath — not the story it once seemed, as written by Malcolm Gladwell.

David always held the upper hand being smaller, faster, more nimble.

This is the advantage small businesses have over large market leaders. You are fast, they are slow. You can talk directly to your customers every day, their decision-makers talk to boards.

So are you listening? Are you looking for a game-changer? Are you trying new things?

Why not?

Cam Birrell

Strategic designer working in innovation for Government. Co-founder of .

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