DESIGN THINKER PODCAST

Ep#20: The Desirability Lens - Will anyone actually buy it?

December 12, 2023 Dr. Dani Chesson and Designer Peter Allan Episode 20
DESIGN THINKER PODCAST
Ep#20: The Desirability Lens - Will anyone actually buy it?
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers


The third of a three-part series on the three lenses of design thinking, this episode explores the desirability lens. 

In this episode, you will be able to 

  • understand what desirability means and why it is important 
  • learn the techniques Design Thinkers use to identify desirability 
  • hear real-world examples of how to put desirability into practice 

So, let's dive in to explore how the desirability lens helps to create solutions that people will actually buy. 



Speaker 1:

Welcome to the Design Thinker podcast, where we explore the theory and practice of design, hosted by me, donnie, and me Peter. Hello everyone and welcome to this week's episode. In this episode we continue on our three-part series looking at the lenses of design thinking. To refresh our memories, the three lenses are feasibility, viability and desirability. In this episode we look at desirability, so let's dive into the conversation, hey.

Speaker 2:

Peter. Hey Donnie, how are you?

Speaker 1:

Good, good, we've just had our Kiwi Thanksgiving celebration.

Speaker 2:

Oh, happy Thanksgiving, Donnie.

Speaker 1:

Happy Thanksgiving, peter. So what are we talking about today?

Speaker 2:

Well, maybe this is kind of related to thanks or thanksgiving. We're going to talk about desirability to sit alongside our previous conversations about feasibility and viability.

Speaker 1:

So should we start with a definition.

Speaker 2:

So I've done a bit of preparation here. The definition of desirability according to the dictionary is the quality of being desirable. I think we might need to look up desirable. Desirability is the quality of being desirable. So maybe let's have a look at what desirable means for the dictionary, and where does it come from? It says we wished for as being attractive, useful or necessary A desirable person or thing comes from. This is quite circular. It comes from old French, but it's suggested perhaps by Latin desiderabulous desiderabulous from the verb desiderare to desire. So it's not really changed much over the years because of the Norio revelation.

Speaker 1:

I found a definition that says worth having or wanting, pleasing, excellent or fine.

Speaker 2:

Excellent or fine? Was that the last one?

Speaker 1:

Yes.

Speaker 2:

Right, that might be the way my brain's working this morning, but excellent, always reminds me of Bill and Ted, and fine reminds me of period piece, weathering heights, fine art.

Speaker 1:

This is a fine day, I do think the first part of that worth having or wanting.

Speaker 2:

That's a good sort of departure point of thing, worth having or wanting, because you've been getting to worth what makes something to somebody worth having or wanting.

Speaker 1:

Then I also found coveted in demand sought after.

Speaker 2:

In demand sought after. I get where all these definitions are coming from and going to something missing for me, though. What about you, in terms of the context of our desirable, feasible, viable model?

Speaker 1:

Worth having or wanting for me is, if we think about the lenses that we've been talking about, a product or service needs to have that element of people wanting it Coveted and in demand. I don't know. I think the word coveted for me has the connotation of like it's a scarcity with it. I think in our work, when we create things, we part of design work is actually making it accessible for people. That word coveted for me doesn't quite land if I think about the purpose of human-centered design.

Speaker 2:

Me too, it's almost the opposite Creating something that's scarce and therefore maybe creating the demand from that scarcity might be helpful from a commercial point of view. Maybe that's the overlap between desirability and vis-à-vis liability. Perhaps, but I'm more inclined to, maybe it's a value thing that we share that whatever we're designing ought to be accessible and available to as many people as possible If it's meeting the need or being needed. It's the thing that's missing from these definitions of desirability. I always think of desirability. Maybe it's worth having to somebody because it's going to meet a need for them it does. It reminds me of something that happened to come across during the week. I don't know if it's the right time to bring it in.

Speaker 1:

Oh, is this a new book? Is it a book I have? Is it a book I need? This is a new book.

Speaker 2:

This is a new edition of a book that I've had for a while. I think it's the fourth edition of Universal Principles of Design. The previous edition was blue. This one has got some white and black and yellow on the cover. I was just flicking through it, as I like to do with a new book when it first arrives. I'm hoping it's in this book, because I built off of it, haven't I? Here we go. This is actually something that I had not heard about before. Something called MEA-M-A-Y-A, which is the subheader on. This is a strategy for determining the most commercially viable aesthetic for a design. This is a term coined by Raymond, is it? His name is?

Speaker 1:

Louie.

Speaker 2:

I'm from the 50s. I'll read you what it says actually it says, while some define design success in terms of aesthetics, others in terms of function and still others in terms of usability, raymond Louie, the father of industrial design, define success in terms of commercial performance, ie sales. In 1951, he proposed the most advanced yet acceptable, aka MEA-M-A-Y-A MEA principle, which asserts that the most advanced form of an object or environment that is still recognisable as something familiar will have the best prospects for commercial success. In other words and I can tell by your hand that you're not convinced that this relates to designability when you write it, although this does relate to designability, I've remembered what the trainer thought along this is an example of something that is designed to be aesthetically desirable in order to generate commercial success. It's like the contrast to our perspective and our values in it. For me, designability starts with something that meets a need that perhaps isn't either not being met at the moment at all or isn't being met as well as it could be with any existing design or solution.

Speaker 1:

I'm trying to think about some of the things that exist in the periphery. One of the things that came out of the Industrial Revolution is the ability to produce things in mass. A byproduct of producing things in mass is that, or in large quantities, is that we have to have standards. There's got to be standardizations. If you think about I might have shared this example before I'm quite sure Design for pants for me is like I just hate it. Petite size is considered being shorter than 5'4" To me. I wish I could be 5'4" as a population. I can understand why they've defined petite sizing to be below that height. I don't know that it would be commercially viable to make pants that are suited for women that are on the shorter end, because volume-wise there just isn't that many. The same thing was like I have really tiny feet. Generally, if there is a shoe I want, I have to go buy it right away because they'll only have one or two size 6's. That's an American sizing. I don't know what that is in New Zealand, but because it's incredibly hard to find shoes that are that small and they don't make that many of them, because I think the average foot size is like an 8 for women. I understand it from a commercial perspective, but from a desirability perspective doesn't quite meet the mark. I either have to get my pants hemmed or I never get to buy shoes on sale because chances of that size 6 that I want being available is very low. I'm bringing that up as an example because I think there is this balance and that's the whole point of these lenses right. Sometimes something could be very desirable, it could be something that people really want. It's not the feasibility of it and the viability of it. I come back to. Actually, this also works really well with your example of teleportation.

Speaker 2:

Oh yeah, one of my favorites.

Speaker 1:

It would be amazing, when I'm homesick, to be able to teleport back to the US and when I need to come back to New Zealand and not have to spend thousands of dollars and 15 hours traveling, which ends up being close to like 25 hours of traveling. The desirability for teleportation is very high, but the feasibility and viability is not. If you take Raymond Lowie's definition into context of that, I get the definition. I don't know that I agree with it because I think the purpose of feasibility and viability is to assess the commerciality of it, because I think desirability is really understanding. What is it that people want to need?

Speaker 2:

Yes, agreed. And also the MAYA model is essentially only looking at one really thin slice of desirability and a leverage aesthetic. So you know how something looks and feels which often is what people can misunderstand designed to be kind of limited to, but it's so much more than that. So, yeah, I think maybe, yeah, it's only one small aspect of desirability. But, yeah, maybe we can go into what else makes something desirable or much, like we've done in the piece above in the Bible. What are our kind of sublenses or how do we break desirability down into things we can examine or consider more closely? And I think this is especially important with desirability is we need to give it the same attention and focus and weight as the word that comes to mind to balance out and sell on site sometimes more tangible measures of feasibility and viability. There was about 10 questions in that.

Speaker 1:

When I think of desirability, the three things that I think about are needs, wants and pain points. What are people needing, what are people wanting and what are the pain points that lead to that want or need? And the reason that I like to focus on pain point is sometimes and we've talked about that example of like someone is it the Henry Ford example? I think he's credited for it to it Somebody says they want a faster horse. Do you know where I'm going with this?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah, I think it was like he supposedly said if I asked people what they wanted to do, they would have said to a faster horse when he decided what they needed with a motor car.

Speaker 1:

The need came from understanding why are people saying they need a faster horse? Right? Because it's not always obvious when people say what they need and want. That's like a bit of a surface level and you've got to dig in to understand the why, and that's where the pain point that comes into. So I kind of see it in two levels, Like you have to understand the needs and wants and then you've got to figure out, okay, what's the pain point that's driving that need or want.

Speaker 2:

Is it always a? I'd like to come back to needs and wants and differentiating the two. But is it always a pain point? I suppose you could always be kind of framed as a pain point. Even you know the gap between something being sufficient and something being delightful. You could see that frame of that difference being a pain point.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I mean, I guess I use pain point just to keep. I like to keep things simple so that when we're out in the world doing this work things, we can just remember and do. So I think I use pain point because, if you can, you know needs, wants and pain point, so just something you could just remember off the top of your head. But you could always flip the pain point to something that's delightful, right, yeah, yeah. So it doesn't always have to be a pain point, but the pain point is kind of a clue or a prompt that, hey, we need to dig deeper and really understand the why behind this want.

Speaker 2:

I like your idea of keeping it simple and just having those three things in mind, and I know, yes, I do like that a lot and that might be my takeaway, but we'll see. But I do want to, or, and I do want to maybe just from my point of view, emphasize that, keeping it simple to those three things. Pain points could be, you know, actual pain that somebody is experiencing to solve and could be literally working on some sort of health initiative, you know. Or it could be emotional pain, if psychological pain, all sorts of, or it could be, you know, kind of. It's almost like moving up in Maslow's hierarchy or going for a sale in Maslow's sale book, you know, and become situational, contextual, societal, because you know what some people consider to be painful is actually what they're experiencing, is a lust or a desire for something that other people would consider completely unnecessary. I'm not making it simple, am I? But hopefully you know what I mean.

Speaker 1:

Okay, so here's an example when we were going through lockdown, my husband and I are both coffee people, like we love our coffees, and at the time we were living in the middle of the city so we never had this need for a coffee machine because we could walk a minute in any direction and there was a coffee shop. Of course, during lockdown, all of those coffee shops are closed and the only way we could make coffee was like plunger coffee, right? So French pressed coffee. As lockdown dragged on the desire for, for me, for Cappuccino, for Greg, a flat white, you know, it was becoming a real pain point. Now, in the grand scheme of the fifth things, there's world hunger, there's people dying in hospitals with COVID and other illnesses, like there's all of this thing happening. So, in the grand scheme of things, that pain point for Cappuccino is very, you know it's, it's non-consequential.

Speaker 2:

Consequential yeah.

Speaker 1:

But in my context at the time, it was a pain point, and I think this is also why we have to have a context is critical to solving any problem, because if your context wasn't, you know two working people living in an apartment in the middle of the city, sitting in back-to-back zooms and just wanting a cup of coffee, you know, good cup of coffee. The idea of hey, let's, let's enable people to order coffee machines online and have them delivered might not, you know, it might not seem like like what the heck is this fixing? So this is why it's really important to understand context and desirability and the work that we do in desire, you know, trying to understand what people want and needs and their pain points is how we get to that context. Yeah, yeah, right.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah, thanks for sharing that that's. Yeah, that's kind of really a thought provoking for me, because I think what you, what I think I'm starting to see you maybe is that, well, I definitely believe that a great way to understand context, like you're saying, and then approach desirability and ultimately design something is, you know, my kind of smallest building block, if you like, for desirability is a person, or, in this case you know, a couple of people, and being really kind of specific about those, those, those individual people, not groups of people or demographics or, you know, not even for me, anyway, not even personas like a specific, like Danny, as a person. So why does she like cappuccino, for example? What's, what is it that she prefers about cappuccino compared to plunger coffee, et cetera, et cetera. For me, anyway, in my approach and my method, I suppose, is that's what really starts to get me interested, because if I and I guess it's if I can figure out what's desirable to Danny, I can unfold the belief that there must be, you know, hundreds, thousands, tens, hundreds of thousands, millions of, depending on the context and the problem, just like Danny, who needs that, who have that same pain point or need to, or one. But a thought that was developing on mine there is. Maybe in some way that's slightly different to this kid, seem a bit wacky, but the, the, the forces involved in feasibility and viability, I think, tend to be more maybe the most structural or organizational. They're just kind of part of it's almost like this desirability is about a person, the person, and feasibility and viability tend to be more about things bigger than individuals, like systems and processes.

Speaker 1:

So this is an interesting to go with me here.

Speaker 2:

Okay, well, you went with me so building on your thought here. Yeah, okay, I can see that you've that. I've provoked some thought in you, so let's see where this goes.

Speaker 1:

So, if we stick with this, so what ultimately ended up happening and going back to my story about COVID and lockdowns and coffee is we ended up ordering a coffee machine online and having it delivered and it was like the best thing ever, and I love my coffee machine.

Speaker 2:

Was it a capsule coffee machine or is it a full?

Speaker 1:

No, yeah. It's like a proper. Yeah, it's one of those that grinds the coffee. You put the little thing in. You have to froth your own milk like it's. It's amazing and I love it. Where I was going with this is. So we had the desire for this coffee. Now, if COVID had happened when I was in my 20s and living in my tiny little apartment, buying a coffee machine of that caliber wouldn't have been, you know, I mean, I was probably drinking instant coffee, so it wouldn't have been a viable option for me. Where, during COVID, we were both in a you know, fortunate enough to be in a position where buying a coffee machine was a viable option for us. So I think there is an element like. So, to back to your point about, we tend to think about viability and feasibility as as more of an organizational thing. However, there is an individual element to that right, because that coffee machine is targeting a specific user, because had I seen that coffee machine in my 20s, I would have gone oh my God, why would somebody spend that kind of money on that thing? Right, like it's just a very so if they were, if they were positioning, if they were looking at that coffee machine for 20 year olds absolutely no viability whatsoever. I mean, there might be some 20 year olds that can afford that, which is wonderful for them I'm being very general here because the coffee machine would still exist, and if a 20 year old could afford it, they'd buy it. But what I'm saying here is that viability and desirability are linked, because I think I think to some degree the thing and this might go back to your point about Maslow's hierarchy like the things you desire for or wanting or that are pain points, are relevant to where you are in life. I think we have to think about it. So I think those two things go hand in hand.

Speaker 2:

Yep, that makes sense. So, yes, for in investigating desirability, considering desirability, so we've got needs, wants, pain points, and what we're, I guess talking about here is and making more explicit is actually those three things are, I think. I think we agree that they're worth investigating and understanding from an individual person's perspective and in a contextual like what's the context of this pain point that's needed in this one? Maybe context could include what stage of life you're maybe breaking down. Maybe it's enough to say they vary from individual to individual and also context to context, because somebody's need or will change in the context. I'll borrow a story from another book that I'm reading at the moment. It's about the original book about the idea of jobs to be done, or jobs theory, competing against luck. I keep mistakingly calling it competing with luck, but it's called competing against luck by Christian Claytonson and some colleagues A very creative classic, if you like, story or case study. That started off the jobs to be done thinking and framework and they developed it into a theory which is really focused on desirability and especially helps us think about needs and wants and pain points. But the classic story is about milkshakes. So the consultants were hired by a fast food company in America to help them sell more milkshakes, basically, and the consultants decided to start investigating and understanding why it is that people bought milkshakes right now in this fast food restaurant, and the way that they started investigating that was. Well, they looked at some data, they looked at some stats and they may have done some surveying, but what they actually did was where they had their breakthrough insights was they spent some time in the fast food restaurant and watched people buying the milkshakes and then followed up with some of those people to ask them why they bought the milkshake. And took them a while to scratch the surface with lots of different people. But they eventually had a couple of really important breakthrough insights through watching people buy it, talking to them about why they were buying the milkshake, and they discovered. Their first kind of breakthrough was people who were buying milkshakes in the morning. They noticed there was this spike in demand for milkshakes around breakfast time, which kind of puzzled them because they initially hadn't really considered a milkshake to be a breakfast item. And what they saw in the fast food restaurant was people were walking in by themselves, they were buying a milkshake and then they were walking out of the restaurant, get back in their car and driving away, and when they started to speak to people, what they discovered was that people were buying the milkshake and basically keep them from being bored during their commute, because the milkshake and the reason they were buying a milkshake is because this particular milkshake in this restaurant was quite thick, so it took them, the last two people, you know, 20, 30 minutes sitting in there. And well, one person apparently said that it fits in my cup holder and showed them their hand. You know, this cup fits in their hand. They can drink the drink when they're driving their car and because it was thick, you know, it would last them their whole commute and it would, you know. They would also, you know, keep them feeling full till it was time for, you know, coffee break mid morning. The need they had was not, you know, a healthy, nutritious breakfast or, you know, just something to it wasn't just about drinking something to feel full. The need they had was something to do during their commute. That was kind of breakthrough in insight number one and for this, the purpose of this story, that was context number one for the fast food company. So they started to think about well, how might we make this milkshake, you know, even more interesting to combat the boredom? How might we make it last even longer for these particular customers in this particular context. What they also realized and this is like the second part of the story that I learned in the book is often missed out from the kind of sharing of the stories that so the job, if you like, of the milkshake that the company was then designing to do was for those group of customers, it was about the commute, it was about staying, staying full and stopping getting bored or driving to work. For totally different group of customers, in the afternoons, around the end of you know, school time, when parents were coming in with their kids, having picked them up from school and they were, I don't know between school and sports practice, say, the kid needs something to actually fuel them up for sports practice. And you know, the one of the stories they uncovered was a parent who saw buying the milkshake for their child as a way to feel like a good parent, because they were giving them something to keep their energy up and also it felt like a treat and because the parent had to say no to you know a dozen things, either that day or during the course of the week, this was finally something they could say yes to the child who asked for it. You know, dad, can I have a milkshake? Is going to help me with sports practice? Yes, I can. I can, let's go and get a milkshake. So it might be exactly the same customer who bought a milkshake for themselves first thing in the morning, but the context, the product, if you like, the milkshake is exactly the same, hasn't changed. The context has and therefore the need or the pain point that is solving is different.

Speaker 1:

I love that story because I think sometimes some things that we forget is we think I think this is a tendency to think that every pain point requires a different solution, and it doesn't. It's sometimes it's understanding. You know, sometimes the same solution can solve multiple pain points in different contexts.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, he's out of the mic and of my brain lit up when I because I've been familiar with the first part of that story, the commuting story is like, yeah, that kind of makes sense. That's really interesting, because it's so unexpected that people would seek out this drink to stop getting bored. I mean, personally, I stay interested in my commute by staying alive and, you know, navigating traffic, but maybe everyone's different, that's fine, that's research, not research. And so, yeah, that yeah, my parts of my brain really got even more interested in this story when I heard the second part. Just like you, like you say, it really helps. You think about different, different problems having being solved by by the same thing, and so, yeah, need to want to get that story came to mind when we talked about context. So, yeah, we've got need to want to pain points. We've got thinking about individuals, actual people, and then also thinking about context. What else? What else about desirability?

Speaker 1:

So what else about desirability? So needs wants, pain points. We've talked through context matters. We've talked a little bit through how desirability informs viability and feasibility with it, with the coffee, we've covered the what of desirability pretty well. Should we dive into why?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, why is it important? Why is it important If we think about our three lenses and then either cover up, imagine the picture of three lenses, and then we cover up or take away the desirability lens, where left with feasibility and viabilities or something is doable and long lasting, but if it's not actually desirable, so in other words if it's not meeting a need I want or solving a pain point, then what's the point? Will anyone actually use it?

Speaker 1:

The irony of that is that I see organizations doing this all the time. They come up with a solution and then they go looking for a problem where the solution would work, because we do tend to. We come up with an idea, we fall in love with the idea, with little understanding about how will this idea actually be useful? Right? Why desirability is important is it helps us understand what's the problem we need to be solving for. When we understand what's the problem, what's the right problem we need to be solving for, it helps us get to viability and feasibility.

Speaker 2:

I think if I, I'll wait to bring it to life, because it's one of these things that I don't know if insuritiveness is the right word, but I guess it just makes sense to me that, maybe through experience, because I've been in these organizations and for some reason the default is to really focus on feasibility and viability and forget about desirability.

Speaker 1:

So yeah, if we don't consider desirability, then so here's a real live example I was working with an organization that wanted to implement like a loyalty program, that's where, like if you buy kind of these things, you get one for free, right? So I kept asking like why? And you know, they went on and did the thing. No one was really signing up for it. So then they thought, oh well, we should find out why people aren't signing up for it, Although as a design thinker I would have said you know, my view was you should have found out if people really wanted it for you. But you know, these are the situations we find ourselves in. So when we did the discovery work to find out why people weren't signing up for the loyalty program, the essence of what we heard is I don't use this service because I'm loyal to you. I use it because it's convenient, because the company I am loyal to isn't always available in the location. So this is just and this is really summarizing all the stories we heard but essentially this company service wasn't seen as something people didn't view it as something they needed to be loyal to because there was an alternative option that they preferred. But this was like the backup option when their first option wasn't available. Now, at this point and the moral of the story is, had we done the discovery work, that company would have learned this is how our customers perceive us, and then you have a decision to make. Right, If this is how our customers desire us, then do we really lean into that and be known for the alternative option Because there's some power in that, or do we need to think about how we're positioning ourselves so that we become the first option? Either way, the solution wasn't a loyalty program and I think in some ways the introduction of the loyalty program almost made it like it was almost reconfirming in consumers' minds that they are the second option.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Speaker 1:

That's an example of why desirability is important, because if you don't understand, desirability to me is really about understanding who it is that you're serving and what it is that they want, so that you can deliver that to the best that you can and balance it with the other two lenses right.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah, nice, I can make that any better, that's perfect.

Speaker 1:

Nothing like a real life story. Nice.

Speaker 2:

And maybe the extra couple of words is why is it important for organizations, companies, us as designers, to consider desirability, why is it important to understand that? And you've just described that. So I think in the next stage in our conversation is we've talked about what and why and now it's like how.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, so I was thinking about our six capabilities, or does I think our capabilities, what would you say? Which ones come into play or which ones do we kind of dial up when we're investigating desirability?

Speaker 1:

So absolutely empathetic exploration, because without that it's really hard If we don't walk into situations. So desirability for me is an exercise in discovery. It's really about understanding needs, wants and pain points and we can't really do that if we're not using that empathetic exploration muscle, because without that we could end up coming across like judgy little you know what. So I think definitely that the situation optimizing one. So this is being able to understand the constraints and balance pessimism and optimism. You really need that because I think if you're spending your days understanding the wants and needs and pain points of people, it can go downhill into a dying word spiral pretty quickly. Visual communicating is really important here because it could be I think it's our predominant way of communicating seems to be verbal. There's a lot of. We can go much deeper into understanding things with visuals. It's a very different experience if you put something in front of somebody that they can see, or even if you're using a whiteboard and sketching it out or mapping it out like that takes, creates, that elevates a conversation to a very different level.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah, definitely. If we go extending visual communication into including prototyping of physical prototype that people can not just see but touch, then, yeah, they're starting to often we don't really. We kind of gloss over or ignore or have learned to work around our own kind of pain points. We don't necessarily tune into our own needs and wants and so being shown either a picture or a wireframe or a prototype app, for example, or physical prototype or something that can unlock in us a realization that, oh yeah, this is something that currently experience as a pain point, yeah, so, as you were talking there, I think my question about which of these? Well, all of them is the short answer, isn't it? Because the capabilities kind of we apply all the time as we're designing and going through our design thinking approach. But what I start to think about as we transition from that empathetic exploration and starting to understand what the needs, pain points and what need to want pain points are, then we can start to get into some idea generation, to having understood what the pain points are, then the next stages will how might we help people with those pain points? So obviously idea generation comes into that sort of this video communication and but then stepping forward into your experimentation and bringing those ideas to life and moving on from speaking of context, moving from people giving you interesting thoughts and feedback from a rough and ready approach type is one thing, but actually building something that they can use in the context of their lives. So creating the fast food company might have been making some kind of experimenting curiously around. What are the ingredients in a milkshake? That's going to make it even more interesting for the commuter, maybe even more delightful for the child to get as a kind of reward or gift from their parents after school. What other, what other tips have you got around? You know, just practically discovering desirability and maybe the second, maybe uncovering what's desirable and then discovering what the best way to make something, make a solution, desirable is.

Speaker 1:

For the desirability lens, we have to do the discovery work right. We've got to go meet with people, talk with people, understand people and get to know how it is that they would use the things that you're creating, the solutions that you're providing. So we've got to make time for that and we've got to. You know, I think oftentimes the reason that desirability gets left out in product design, service design, you know any all of this kind of work is that we get really focused on delivering something. It's like I feel like we often get so focused on delivering something that we lose track of. We've got to deliver something that's useful to people so that they use it, because if they're not using it, then the viability and the feasibility lenses well like, no product or service is gonna be viable if people aren't buying it, and people aren't gonna buy it if it's not gonna meet a need for them or it's not gonna solve a problem for them. So the more that we can make the gap between me consumer has a problem, oh, here's the product or service like. The more we can shorten that gap for consumer between pain point and solution, the more viable our product and service is. Yeah, so I think we have to really dedicate the time to do the work upfront so that we create the thing, and I think that's a mental model shift, it's a belief system that's gotta happen in organizations. That's not happening now and it's kind of that go slow to go faster later. Yeah, yeah, that's the mentality that we have to get into. In saying that, though, I also see on the opposite end of that, there is this risk of I often see like we'll do a really great piece of discovery work to understand desirability, oh, but you didn't speak to so-and-so and you didn't speak to so-and-so, and then it just becomes or well, that's just the view of the few people you spoke to, right, and then you get stuck in this like constantly trying to validate desirability. There's the risk of that that we also have to balance with, and what I'm saying there is really knowing when to say enough, like we've got enough information here to move forward, and you have to balance that right. You've gotta make sure you're speaking to enough people and, at the same time, you've gotta be able to draw the line and saying, yeah, we've talked to enough people now that we can pull something together and put it out there.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah, we can pull something together, put it out there and then a great mindset to adopt at that point is to, I guess, maintain an element of curious experimentation. Even when you're launching something, it's like well, this in itself is going to. I think the term learning launch can be really helpful to go right. This, this is an actual working product, service and whatever it is that you're designing and implementing, and we're about to learn whether it is desirable and viable and feasible.

Speaker 1:

And that's that view of seeing it as a continuously improving thing. So I think what happens is push comes to shove, desirable gets shoved out the window, and then something gets put out there, and then you're in that spot of oh well, why isn't this being used?

Speaker 2:

Well, is this true? I was going to say the thing that's most difficult to understand is often most difficult to understand is human behavior, isn't it? And yet, like you were saying, it's ironic that we place our kind of biggest bets on human behavior, because by that I mean we don't spend enough time usually understanding human behavior so that we can understand these needs, wants and pain points. You have a kind of gamble on that, rather than taking a gamble on you know the tip. In the organization I've worked in a lot of effort to spend, let's say, on the viability, so we've put together models that are you know a lot of data and numbers and you know forecast, et cetera. I just wonder whether we're betting on the wrong thing maybe be better to understand and to reduce the uncertainty about the human behavior element, the desirability side of things, and take more of a bet on the numbers or the feasibility.

Speaker 1:

And I think the feasibility, viability is really where the capability of curious experimentation really plays a big role. Because if you and you're absolutely right like humans, in some ways we're very predictable and in some ways we're not, and the differentiator there is context. So what seems like a very rational behavior can seem very irrational in a different context than vice versa. Right, this is what makes humans very complicated, and if we don't take the time to understand the who that your organization is serving and the who isn't just a one thing, right, and this is where the whole idea of personas comes in, because, say, you're a company that makes shoes, obviously all of your customers are people who wear shoes. However, there's subcategories within that and that's where the whole idea of persona comes in. But you really have to understand the who's that are buying your shoes to really be able to make things that they are going to find useful. And the companies that you design really really well know exactly who they're targeting, who their products and services are targeting.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah.

Speaker 1:

And although all the other things we've talked about who they're targeting, the context, et cetera, et cetera, and then I think we also probably need to mention some of the tools that we use to do the design of the day, right, yeah. So I think we talk about it as discovery work, but what that really means is so one of the tools that we use are empathy interviews, which is really about going out and speaking to your customers, whoever they are, internal or external, to understand again, there are needs, wants and paying points on a specific thing, and part of doing an empathy interview is really trying to understand the context of that individual right. This is the problem and then this is the context that they are experiencing. The first problem in yeah, and I think the thing to remember also is when we're doing empathy interviews, that's not the time for solutioning. It's really the time for if I could tagline it, it would be shut up and listen yeah, yeah, mouth off ears on yeah, and I think sometimes that I've seen empathy interviews go really wrong because it becomes solution mode and not listening load.

Speaker 2:

Sometimes it's easy to go into that. That trap isn't it. We need to pay attention to the two ears and one mouth, yeah, so empathy interviewing definitely. I think that milkshake story brings to life another useful I guess that's called a tool is all preservation, basically blending into the background and watching what's happening in a situation.

Speaker 1:

So we've talked about empathy, interviews, observation. My one caution with observation is it can get creepy quite quickly. So just being mindful of are you doing your observations where people would expect you to be seen, so at a fast food. If I walk into a fast food restaurant, I don't have any expectations of privacy because I am in a public place. If I am in a doctor's office, that might be very different. Yes, ok, context again yeah, so we have to be very mindful, if we are going to use observation as a technique, that we're doing it in an appropriate way. What else so? Empathy, interviews, observation.

Speaker 2:

Again, it's something that may be used in conjunction with those other two. But learning from extremes Some people may have solved their own pain point in a way that you learn from and then provide a similar solution to a wider group of people. And I just have a little learning from extremes, I think, people who are doing something they're kind of experiencing the pain point to such a degree and so frustrated with an absence of a solution that they've created their own.

Speaker 1:

At the other end of that kind of extreme is people who are tolerating the status quo, perhaps so I think another way we can do this is it's a type of research where you have people show you how they're doing something currently. Yeah, yeah, yeah, it's kind of a version of prototype testing. But let's say it's a product and you wanna understand better. How are people using it? You can actually get them to show you what they do, what they're doing currently, and how is that working or not working. So empathy interviews just doesn't have to be just about talking right, it can actually be watching somebody asking somebody to do something and then talking about oh, how are you doing that? Does that work, does that not work?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah, what about? I'll call it immersive empathy. So well, it's challenging to do it entirely, because you literally cannot live somebody else's life. But let's say I know we're designing something to do with commuting. And let's say we don't, and maybe we're designing something relating to public transport. I do take public transport. Let's imagine that I don't usually, and I either work from home or I drive a car. Well, an immersive empathy exercise which can help me understand some of the pain points or the needs and the wants of people is to actually start catching the bus myself. What about that? That's gonna help, isn't it?

Speaker 1:

I often tell people why don't you go online and try to buy a product from your company? Because that alone would give you a lot of insights into what works and what doesn't. Last year, I did some work with a company that was redesigning their recruitment process and one of the things we looked at was online application. And I said to everyone you need to go online and apply for a position at your company and then make notes of all the things that you're thinking, feeling and doing. And it was very eye-opening for that team because they didn't realize all the pain points that existed within that process, because either when they applied for the role the role that they were in like they had forgotten about it or things had changed since the time that they did it and they just weren't aware of what that experience was like. So I think sometimes literally walking in the shoes of someone is very eye-opening. Some cautions to that. I know the disability community doesn't endorse this and I agree. Like if you are an abled person and you wanna understand what it's like to be in a wheelchair, I don't think it's appropriate to use this technique in that situation. Okay, so I think we again just being sensible and thinking through, and this is also why we have to understand a bunch of different techniques, so that we can be mindful and apply the best technique. For the context again, I think we need an episode on context.

Speaker 2:

Context. Yeah, that's a good idea. All right, so I think we've explored a couple of tools there a few tools, so good starting point and we've explored why desirability and understanding desirability is important and what we're thinking about. Wrapping this up, danny, what any other what's our takeaway? Well, as I say, any last thoughts before we get into our takeaways.

Speaker 1:

There is one outstanding item that we talked about in our previous episodes, when we had the different subcategories, we had talked Do you know what I'm talking about? Like we had talked about financial strategy, sustainable, political, ethical, and we had mentioned social and we hadn't really looked back to that one in this episode.

Speaker 2:

When we were talking there, where we think about what is socially desirable or and or thinking about the social acceptable, what were we thinking of when we thought about social being part of desirable?

Speaker 1:

So I think what we were talking about is it a socially desirable Like? Do we have to think about society as a whole and if a solution is gonna be like socially acceptable?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I think we do is the short answer to that. But I think there may be two slightly different things. Like socially desirable suggests considering the impact, both intended and unintended. A society and you could go right is it my suburb, my organization, is it the whole world and everything in between? And then socially acceptable I guess it's kind of related to that. But yeah, that's it. It's less about what are, what is the impact in my mind to list about that and more about maybe the understanding of something being desirable. It's like investigating the current or trying to understand what behavior change might be needed and maybe shifting something from being kind of socially well, maybe it's socially something from socially acceptable to socially unacceptable.

Speaker 1:

I wonder if it's about we need to be mindful, like the social norms of a community, whether that's local, national, global, right. Again coming back to context. So I wonder if it's having an awareness of what is, what are the social norms of a particular? Whatever the context that you're working in, you need to have an understanding of what the social norms there are and I think about, in some communities it's perfectly acceptable to just walk in and start asking questions and kind of gathering information, and in others it wouldn't be so. Going back to when I was talking about observation, right, it's more socially. It's more likely that it's socially acceptable to observe behavior at a fast food restaurant, probably less so at a doctor's office. I wonder if that's what it's about. It's about like, well, so when we are looking at this desirability lens, it's really thinking about from a social perspective. It's thinking about what are the social norms?

Speaker 2:

And what are part of the context. What are the social norms currently? And then it may be at least you to understand, or try to understand, what the social norms might need to be in order for you to be able to solve or help somebody with a pain point.

Speaker 1:

The story that comes to mind for this for me is I think it might've been Nike designing sportswear for women that want to dress modestly. There's a view of what sportswear should look like, but that way of dressing isn't the social norm in every society, right, Having an understanding of that? Sorry, I'm like digging for good examples here.

Speaker 2:

No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. I think this is a really good example. Yeah, yeah, that makes sense. I see what you mean there.

Speaker 1:

All right, so I think getting to wrapping it up, what is your key takeaway?

Speaker 2:

Bringing it back. Yeah, my kind of takeaway is really simply keeping it simple and thinking about needs, wants and pain points.

Speaker 1:

Nice.

Speaker 2:

So thank you for that. How about you? What's your takeaway?

Speaker 1:

Well, I just found a new book I need to order the Universal Principles of. Design to add to my ongoing collection of reading. So yeah, that's my takeaway.

Speaker 2:

Glad to help you out to your library, Danny, as always.

Speaker 1:

Thanks, Pete, All right, great job. Well, thanks for listening everyone.

Speaker 2:

Thanks everyone, See you next time.

Speaker 1:

We'll see you next time.

Speaker 2:

Bye, Peter All right bye, Danny, I'll see you next time.

Exploring Desirability in Design Thinking
The Important of Context
Examples of How Desirability Leads to Better Products
Understanding Desirability and Practicing
Desirability and Social Norms