Shaun Jones illustrates perfectly why being creative and passionate and brimming full of ideas is only a good thing for your clients if you're actually hitting the right bulls-eye: the one they want you to hit.
He provides a timely warning to all of us who occasionally get a bit carried away with the conceptual art of the possible, without really paying attention to how that's going to look, or whether it can in fact work well, when applied in the cold light of day.
I've linked his recent blog, 'Are we trying to sell oranges when our clients really need apples?' below. It's an engaging and insightful read.
For me, it is particularly useful in identifying 2 key cardinal sins committed by service-based businesses, both of which Shaun wisely counsels us against at all cost.
1.Don’t forget your place - or your client's. Your client hasn't.
You're part of your client's ecosystem first and foremost. Your brief is not about you and what you know or get excited about - although undoubtedly, that's very useful.
Whatever you conceptualise and present, make sure it's relevant and fully meets the client's particular needs, including the less immediately obvious ones.
Shaun demonstrates that it's vital to take a holistic view of your client's business - not a fragmented one - and to make sure that you've presented something that is properly in 'plug and play' format for your client.
'In our passion to create unique and truly differentiated propositions, we sometimes don’t fully appreciate that we are one part of a bigger business ecosystem,' he says.
2.Don’t force your client to compromise - that's a fast route to disappointment and the loss of their loyalty.
Listen, extrapolate & understand not just what needs to be done, but also who needs to be onboard to make it happen, so that you can present a proposition capable of fully effective integration without compromise on the part of your client.
As Shaun points out,
'Design has the capacity to create incredible value, but without understanding the greater context of our clients' businesses, it can be an incredibly expensive and wasteful use of our clients' time and budget, not to mention the blight on a hard won relationship.
'How many times have you been presented (or presented) an idea that just isn’t possible, or has had to be compromised so much it no longer resembles the reason it was loved in the first place. Never mind the weeks and months spent creating, and of course the budget in getting there...'
Too often, he observes, the compromise stems from a pragmatic disconnect that could have been avoided and/or accommodated at the conceptual stage.
I'll leave you to enjoy the full read, including his advice to help prevent you from making either of the above 2 mistakes.
Innovative design thinking is not only the result of actionable insights, but also a thorough understanding of a clients ambition and their capability to meet it (or not).