The future cannot be outsourced

The necessity for continuous regeneration is insisted upon everywhere, to the point of boredom. When a company’s or community’s own resources are not sufficient, the natural reaction is to look elsewhere. Could the development of a product or service targeting the future be outsourced – just like everything else these days?

In the outsourcing frenzy, it should be remembered that natural starting points for the creation of a new product or service can be found within the company or community – since the product or service to be designed must be built on the business strategy and goals. Usually, the organisation itself also has a strong vision of what kind of user paths and features the product or service to be designed or developed should involve and what its key customer groups will be. These form a solid base for the design process.

It is, however, essential to observe that, when aiming for a significant development step or when designing a completely new product or service, all aspects must be studied more carefully, more extensively, more deeply and more critically – by challenging the accustomed preconditions. On what is the notion of the right development direction based? Are the justifications based on the notion right? Is there sufficient information to allow for enlightened decision-making? Has the idea to be developed been considered to the required extent – and is it too tame or wild? The macro-level perspective of the organisation is uniquely wide and comprehensive, but it is only useful if the perspective has been formed on the right grounds and if it can be combined with creative, ground-breaking thinking. It is a well-known fact that, when reaching outside the idea box, the owner organisation is rarely at its strongest.

 

The viewpoint of the organisation is uniquely wide and comprehensive but it is rarely at its strongest when reaching outside the box.

 

Luckily the organisation is not the only source of ideas. Customers and end users look at the big picture from the perspective of their own needs. Their perspective is most often narrow and personal but at the same time involves micro-level matters in a way that is beyond the view of the organisation. On the other hand, customers are notoriously bad at communicating their needs, challenges and ideas and, when they do communicate, it is most often limited by the restrictedness of the perspective. It is typical that a customer does not recognise the existence of a problem even when it negatively impacts their daily operations. It is therefore vital for the company or community to create an open and functional connection with its customers – that is to get into situations where the hidden needs and ideas of customers can be recognised and analysed.

 

When the organisation’s macro-level perspective meets the customers’ micro-level perspectives with the help of design thinking and methods, it is possible to create new business operations.

 

When the organisation’s macro-level perspective meets the customers’ micro-level perspectives, the situation enables the creation of completely new insight. Starting the creative brainstorming process and keeping it going requires an actor who approaches things open-mindedly with fresh eyes and by questioning the old solutions. If the creative process needs to be kept within the organisation, an actor with opportune characteristics should be sought from among persons who are not yet too saturated with the internal view of the organisation. This adds to the potential of generating completely new solutions.

 

Development work that targets the future cannot be completely outsourced but creative brainstorming works most effectively when utilising a designer from outside the organisation.

 

Creative brainstorming is most effective when utilising an expert from outside the organisation. The best benefit is gained by harnessing at an early stage of the process a user-oriented professional of creative development work whose competence includes the collection and modelling of user data and the development of creative solutions, quick prototype creation and refinement. Based on their characteristics and methods applied daily in their profession, this work is ideal for industrial designers and service designers.

Development work that targets the future cannot be completely outsourced. A company or community should, however, be aware that it cannot complete the development work successfully on its own, but this cannot be done by customers or designers alone either. However, when the perspectives of the organisation and customers are merged by utilising design thinking and methods in a creative and fresh manner, it is possible to generate new business.