Name the enemy. The role of the design challenge.

This article has been publicated originally on my blog, and kindly translated in English by Florence Zettel. A big thank you to her for her time and efforts.

At the end of the user research phase emerges a sensitive milestone.

Once the design team has identified the different challenges that their stakeholders are facing, it has to define its core problematic, in another word: the design challenge.

This challenge usually takes the form of a simple question. This question synthetizes the learnings of the research phase and explicits key the design goals of the project.

This sentence can look like this:

– How might we enable “characteristic users traits”

– facing “contextual criterions of the experienced situation”

– to achieve “objectives to be reached by the users in question”

– despite “nature of barriers met”

Formalizing this challenge is essential because it enables to clearly explicit the team’s key goals.

It describes what will need to be achieved for the people we help. It determines what we will have to overcome: these essential problems we don’t tolerate anymore, which will have to be eradicated for our users thanks to our solution.

This challenge is a prodigious tool, because it enables to send a signal about the desired impact we seek to make without having to reach a consensus first about the solution.

It enables to determine the current state of the reality, which we consider intolerable from now on. It invites all the people of good will to get on board to bring about a change, a transformation, to imagine something new, more adapted, more appropriate for the people we serve, the people we authentically want to help reach their objectives.

What better opportunity to put people together in order to solve something unfair, to change an unacceptable situation, to intiate a transformation of the unsufficient « existing state ».

In the stakeholders engagement, any kind of designation of what is not tolerable anymore plays a crucial role. Because it enables to unite different people with different goals in a common quest for something new.

Do not neglect the role of your Enemy. Identify it. Name it. Make it visible and invite all people of good will to help you build a different world. A world where these problems won’t exist anymore.

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