Nick Talbot on How thinking 'Design' first can help build successful ventures

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As global head of design at Tata Elxsi, Nick Talbot, helps companies like Unilever, Jaguar Land Rover and Panasonic with conceptualizing and implementing industrial design. In a fireside chat at TechSparks 2013, Talbot spoke about the principles of design, not losing sight of the original vision, the danger of design drift, and designing for the masses.


Here are the key takeaways from his engaging talk:

  • Innovation is about making things better, not different and what’s also important is for who and for how many people?
  • Design is about being borderless, so its better for everybody, what’s important is how many people will the innovation benefit?
  • It keeps getting mentioned, but the KISS- keep it simple stupid principle is evergreen, and not to be forgotten.
  • Within India, there’s a huge diversity of attitudes, defining and designing them is important.
  • Good example of great innovation is post its because everybody understands instantly and everybody can use it- low-risk innovation- simplifying whatever you have
  • Good design is vision +pragmatism + craft + communication.
  • Design is not a magic wand, if you think of design as just style and image, then you are massively underutilizing.
  • Optimize design for every part of your business, even its a very small business- its humanist and should be about understanding people- become blinkered with product and tech they develop- tendency with developing product and not think of end customer-
  • Design research is about uncovering the nuances of what people want.
  • Put anthropology before tech, even if you are in a tech company, design is your consumer champion. Why freeze the technology before the design? Don’t do this because it cannot be changed later.
  • Does your design resonate emotionally with end users and never miss the woods for the trees.
  • if you incorporate design at the beginning you will avoid problems in the end. Imagine an SUV without enough room for golf clubs, no headroom at the back. Who is going to buy that?
  • Use an independent view, God is in the detail and needs to be there from Day 1.
  • Be wary of design drift, keep true from the vision to final execution and don’t lose sight of the dream.
  • The best ideas: come from small companies and entrepreneurs because they think different and are agile. Big companies become comfortable with what they have achieved to do new things.
  • Put design first and not last

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