Antonio Gould knows an awful lot about design and product management, which is what todays workshop was based on. During the workshop, the Double ‘Diamond’ design process framework was mentioned for being a really great framework to refer to when designing a product to meet the user’s needs. We thought we’d look into Double Diamond to see if it could be applied to our project as a referential aid during the design process.
Double Diamond Framework (Consultant, 2015)
The ‘Double Diamond’ process maps the divergent and convergent stages of a design process. Created by The British Design Council, it describes modes of thinking that designers use. The Council’s origin is Industrial Design – which is about creating tangible objects. As such, the model seems like a linear process. It describes significant up-front design, before going on to produce a final solution. Working this way means that solutions are generally perfected before public release. That’s because it’s expensive to change a physical product after it has shipped. Another effect is that a lot of time passes before knowing it’s efficacy in a real market.
For software products or services, we take advantage of the malleable nature of what we create. Software is easier to change, so we don’t need to perfect the entire solution up front. Instead, we create smaller packages of value for release. Then we respond to what is learnt in a real market to refine and adapt the architecture of the product. When we do this, the initial solution informs the future, and our strategy adapts.
See below the modified Double Diamond model, adjusted for software products and services.
The journey begins with a trigger. This could be an idea, some insight, a change in the market, a macro economic change. Before responding to the trigger with a vision or plan, we first seek to understand the current condition. This phase is divergent and exploratory – it’s a search for new questions. Through observation and enquiry we reveal customer behaviour and business drivers. Opportunities are identified for further consideration.
From a place of some understanding, we begin to synthesise knowledge into insight. This focuses on the most compelling opportunities to pursue. It’s about converging on a vision and defining the first expression of our plans to occupy a future position. We assess the viability and impact of our plans, and determine how to measure success.
This initial strategy guides the execution of a solution, but strategy is never complete. A strategy should adapt when we make new discoveries. It doesn’t need to define all details of a solution. Instead, the focus should be on the desired outcomes or impact to achieve.
With a vision in place, it’s time to explore the best potential solutions. We know what to achieve, and by exploring and validating options, we find the best ways to succeed. This is a divergent and iterative activity. Details and requirements have not been defined – instead, the right solution is discovered.
As we gain confidence in the solution, exploration gives way to engineering. Now we’re creating and optimising working software. The opportunity here is two-fold. First, a working solution delivered to market. Second, we gather real market feedback. As a result, our understanding deepens, and new discoveries influence an ever-changing strategy. Software engineering is not merely execution of a plan, it also defines strategy.
Understanding the phases of the Double Diamond and how they interrelate is important. It helps decide the right methods and activities for pursuing a problem or opportunity. The model scales well to accommodates many situations. Optimising an existing business model using continuous improvement is different to new product development. These call for their own tools and methods. Enterprise innovation – where integrated strategies define a full programme of work – is different again. Yet, for each example, we can apply the Double Diamond to help frame strategy and execution of the solution.
Can we use the Double Diamond framework in our project?
It would seem that, without knowing it, we have already been following the double diamond approach since the get go.
During the ‘understand’, or sometimes referred to as the ‘discover’ phase, we were triggered by the assignment, asking for a interactive technology project that supports an organisation. Before responding to the assignment with a vision or plan, we proceeded to explore Amnesty as an organisation in the broadest sense. Insights revealed the organisations needs and problems through research insights. We interviewed the Regional South West Manager of Amnesty (Alice Podd) in search for questions and as well as opportunities.
From speaking with Podd and researching Amnesty’s campaigns and use of technology, we found some interesting insights to go forward with:
- Amnesty is a a huge people powered lobbyist group that spend 40% of their budget on research
- Aim: Extremely important that Amnesty creates awareness to the public, people power movement to give long term solutions
- Currently: Main campaigns are save the human rights act, hate crime after Brexit, documenting Syria bombings, and Trump (Muslim ban, torture, cuts to abortion etc).
- Strong selling point of Amnesty: Freed 55,000 prisoners of conscience since Amnesty started, tenacious and persevere
- Painpoints: Lobbying is an extrememly long process, there are no quick fixes. Racial discrimination is another challenge which is perpetuated by the media, so Amnesty have to challenge this. Trumps influence on so many people is a huge challenge for Amnesty.
- Insights: Amnesty have use a lot of technology – Panic button, VR, satellite image detection.
- Overall: There is room for interactive technology in the Amnesty space.
We need to research what strategies other organisations have pursued whilst using interactive technology in their campaigns. We’ll need to do a few competitor analysis to become aware of the SWOT.
Even though we have identified a potential idea, I think we are still in the understand and define phase of the double diamond model. We should take a step back to gather the insights before agreeing on the idea.
We’ll continue to use the double diamond approach, as seen below.
- Discover –identify, research and understand the initial problem.
- Define – limit and define a clear problem to be solved.
- Develop – focus on and develop a solution.
- Deliver – test and evaluate, ready the concept for production and launch.