First seek to understand the why?

We all have a favourite animated movie don’t we? What is yours? Why do we love it so much? Why can we watch it over and over again?

Ponder those questions.


Why, How, & What

Know this — Everything in the animation (the HOW and WHAT) exists for a reason. The timing, spacing, squashes, stretches, anticipation, easing, arcs, exaggerations, reactions, colours, music, and sounds all exist with a purpose. To provide us the viewer, a cohesive experience. The WHY drives the HOW and WHAT.

Why, then, should we not approach product development in a similar fashion and create a beautiful experience that warrants being used over and over again. Start with WHY, the “HOW and WHAT” follows. Before we continue, we should align and have a clear understanding of what we mean by WHY, HOW, and WHAT.

WHY is a simple belief.
HOW is the action we take to realise our belief.
WHAT is the result of our actions and
in terms of product development the following is also pertinent:
WHEN is the product roadmap.

Apply the Ethos

We have two ways in which we can apply the suggestion of first seeking to understand and define the WHY. The first is in helping us shape and create a powerful belief as a company. Knowing the way is the answer to “Why should anyone care what we are doing?” This belief can then and should reverberate behind every action the company takes.

The second application of this ethos is of note because the best motivation, is knowing WHY. It is this second application of the ethos that puts into action the simple belief of our leaders. It is during this second application that the WHY becomes the HOW and WHAT.

So then, as product designers (physical or digital), by starting with WHY you set yourself for clear and concise decision making. Knowing the reason behind why you design anything will aid you in educating and communicating your decisions to your team.

At some point, be it in school, at a large company, or a startup, you will be asked to help execute on a vision. In a follow up blog post we’ll introduce and discuss the methods that help the team discover and know the WHY behind current and future decisions. I am hopeful that you are involved from the genesis of the project, if not, involve yourself.

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