Richard Newland on the Gap between Intent and Execution

I enjoyed Richard Newland’s presentation on customer experience design at HSBC. He talked about navigating the “treacle” of modern organizations and clarified that in the organizational context it’s not enough to be right. There are always bureaucratic obstacles to change. He stressed the need to build internal and external partnerships around a simple design brief that continues to be referenced throughout the intervention.

Richard was funny and self-deprecating. He disclaimed any artistic ability (“I’m a civilian”) but I don’t agree with his conclusion that design should be left to designers. He’s adamantly against “design by committee” and buttressed that opinion with anecdotes about executives with terrible taste. It’s an odd sentiment for a conference that has focused on incorporating non-designers into the design process again and again.

What I think he’s missing is that co-design is actually a research method rather than a design method. The output isn’t a design specification or a blueprint. It’s not sacrosanct. The “designs” are only a way to uncover latent needs. It still falls to service designers to interpret the results.

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