Innovation the Art and Science of Possible with Lijo Joseph
When it comes to problem-solving, the first step has to be acquiring a deep understanding of the problem from every perspective and understanding the user’s needs and demands. It can help designers craft successful and innovative products that create value for the end-users, and a design thinking mindset can help achieve just that. It encourages designers to approach a problem with a relentless focus on user needs and provides a systematic approach to problem-solving. So how can designers adopt a design thinking mindset to foster innovation? To learn more about this theme in the 68th episode we interact with Lijo Joseph, Head of Design, India & APAC at Tata Consultancy Services. He is an established design leader with over two decades of work experience and a mentor with expertise in user experience design, design strategy, interaction design, design thinking, team building, and much more. Let’s know more about his journey and experience in the latest episode of “MIT Designeering Series Podcast,” “Innovation: The Art and Science of the Possible.”
Rohit Lalwani: Design is all about incrementing and progressing. In the quest for development, the motto for a more engaging design is to provide more features. However, each new feature adds a bit more complexity that leads to critical things over a period of time, client engagement, and execution speed. It is death by a thousand silent cuts. Could you break the ice by briefing us about what steps can designers take to achieve clarity, consistency, and simplicity in their design outcome?
Lijo: Whenever we create an experience design or a defined experience design strategy, even if it is for a product or a service, we should make sure that we should place the user at the center of the experience and we need to employ systematic approaches like empathy mapping. It is important to understand the real need of the user through immersive user research. Therefore, adding more features is not a crime, but adding more features for the sake of it or to showcase that technical capability of the company or the team or the product is a crime because we need to understand what a user needs from this particular product. For instance, if we look at WhatsApp, it started with minimal features, which as texting and it gained popularity. Over a period of time on a regular frequency, they introduced new features which are connecting with the people or addressing the need of people. They added the feature voice notes. Instead of text, via voice notes, you can communicate your emotion when you are talking with someone.
It is important to place the user at the center of your experience strategy, having immersive research, and pick the right time to introduce a feature.
Rohit Lalwani: While you lead a team of young and emerging designers at TCS Interactive managing product development and ensuring your team is on the right track is not simple. It is not easy either is incorporating all stakeholders in the product development stages of the product’s life cycle as well. I wish to know, what are the practices that lead to logical and thoughtful decision-making even in times of high stress?
Lijo: According to me it is pretty simple, trust people or processes and methods to follow. Empower them to make the decisions and always have their back, if something goes wrong.
Encourage diversity of thoughts, free flow of ideas, and co-creation, which will enable the team to make the right decisions amidst the high-stress and tight timelines. People are thinking that failing on something is a crime. It is not a crime, we all are human beings. We may fail, but it is important to have the takeaways or the corrective measures from all those failures.
You should have someone to back you in those failures and encourage you to go further and help them to express their ideas, thoughts that will really help to address the high stress or the tight timelines we used to have in a corporate industry.
Rohit Lalwani: Over the last decade we have seen the transition of user experience as a differentiator to being user experience as a requirement. Earlier we saw that user experience differentiated one competitor from another, but today it becomes the core of the offering. It has allowed service design to be the next big differentiator across domains. Could you brief us on how can designers create a future that is no longer derived solely from the products, but from the services that we perform for our customers?
Lijo: Service design according to me is not a future offering, it is already that around as it is intangible many times we are not aware of its presence. When we say future we need to understand first what future is because just before the pandemic, we used to represent the future of technology, future of science, or future of anything with an image that a finger touching somewhere would be a virtual surface or some surface where we will have all the graphic things and that was the image we use to represent the future, but when this pandemic happened, we all changed our mindset. Now, touching some surface is more like sin, you are very careful and sometimes you are very stressed to touch somewhere. For instance, if you visit an ATM you are scared thinking how many people would have touched here and would get infected by the recent covid virus, and therefore you can see that the big impact of the digital payment systems in India and across the globe. It is having a very fast pace in this current scenario.
Therefore this pandemic has changed our plan for the future. Everything has changed and a lot of disruptions have happened and it is still continued. We know that many new innovations are going to happen in the future. Today from contact, we are moving towards a contactless experience and contactless interaction in the world. Therefore, when you say future it is not about three or thirty years from now, it is about the very next second, and as creative people or designers how are we responding to it is going to define the future of experience design and the future of a designer in his profession.
Adaptability and response to the situation will define you and your experienced design offerings.
Rohit Lalwani: At MIT group of institutions we have coined the term ‘Designeering’, a unique combination of design and engineering where the world of design and engineering converge and come together? I wish to know from your rich experience if this concept actually blends in reality at your workplace as well and could this as a philosophy help young designers and achieve something exceptional?
Lijo: It is an interesting concept because, in reality, designers and engineers are always considered as the two different sides on the battlefield. A designer understanding the technology is always a great boon for them to come up with innovative solutions and at the same time, if an engineer can bring the analytical skills possessed by them as an engineer to design, or when we have the discussion on the problem statement or the business requirement that will be a rare and a good combination of analytical skill and the creative thought process. It should make sure a culture of complimenting each other, is more important because the orchestration of design and technology creates value for the end-users therefore I appreciate this concept and I am looking forward to that.