Designing for Significance


If you’re stuck, consider the opportunity to make a mark with your work. Organizations often lack meaning in their work, not capability, when they find themselves stuck.

One way to reinvigorate your work, your organization and yourself is to explore the idea of designing for significance. Designing for significance refers to the process of creating products, services, or experiences that have a meaningful and lasting impact on people’s lives. This includes designing for ourselves: creating beautiful, meaningful work and the organizations to support and focus that work.

It could be that the work you’re doing or the way you’re working is lacking in significance. The good news is that we can design this into our enterprise.

Here are a few things we know about designing for significance:

1. Start with empathy: Understanding who you’re seeking to serve (this may be more than one group). Determining their needs and desires is crucial to creating a product that will resonate with them. Empathy-driven design involves actively listening to your users, observing their behaviour, and putting yourself in their shoes. It also helps you to anticipate what they might need or want in the future. This is where tools like personas can be useful.

2. Focus on outcomes: To design for significance, it’s important to focus on the outcomes you want to achieve rather than just the features of your product or service. What do you want your users to feel, achieve, or experience from using your product or engaging your service? Design with those outcomes in mind. Evaluate and gather the data to see what kind of influence you’re having on people and their actions.

3. Use storytelling: Storytelling is a powerful tool for creating emotional connections with your users. Use storytelling to convey the impact and significance of what you’re creating and to make it more relatable and memorable.

4. Collaborate in ways that find, focus, and amplify diverse perspectives: Designing for significance requires a diverse range of perspectives and experiences to reflect the complexity of the stories, situations, and needs of people. Collaborate with those who bring different backgrounds, skills, and viewpoints to create a product that resonates with a wide range of people and situations.

5. Iterate and test: Design is an iterative process, and testing is a crucial part of that process. Test your product with real users to get feedback and insights that can inform your design decisions and help you create a more significant product. Following a process that aligns with things like the Helix Model can help.

Overall, designing for significance involves a deep understanding of the needs and desires of your audience and yourself as a professional and organization. It’s outcome-driven, collaborative, and engages complexity through diversity; it’s curiousity-promoting and collaborative. All of these things provide energy back to you and your workforce. It’s ultimately about connecting to and generating meaning in the work. That’s why it helps get you unstuck and moves you forward (while making better things).

This is about making beautiful work which connects people to the work and its products.

Try this with your team. Engagement and meaning brings so many benefits.

If you need or want help, we have experience with this and can help enliven, inspire, and focus your team to get them unstuck. Let’s grab a virtual coffee and chat.

Photo by K. Mitch Hodge on Unsplash

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