The Experience of Change

Change is a funny thing that can feel exhilarating, daunting, exciting, and overwhelming all at the same time. Last year brought a lot of change to our business - from the type of clients we work with, to the type of projects we focused on - and we are very excited to see how we evolve into 2019.

Many of our long-term Fortune 50 clients now have internal UX teams and have switched to using our team as a catalyst for collaboration to generate new ideas. Several of our new clients needed help ideating and defining products and getting a clear understanding of audience need before implementing major change or launching new products.

One of the biggest changes our team made heading into the new year was moving our office to a new location. After nearly 14 years, we moved our offices from Edina to a co-working environment in the North Loop. We went from a large space with private offices and our own usability lab to a small co-working space with several dozen new “co-workers”. The task of moving was daunting, a little scary, and at times overwhelming - but now that we are through the process, we are all feeling good about the direction we are heading as we kick off 2019.

When a business decides to make strategic changes about how it operates there tend to be processes and systems that as a result, either evolve or go away in order to make room for fresh ideas and new ways to approach challenges. Moving our office enabled us to experience this type of change and caused us to regroup and evaluate our direction moving forward.

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As a business, we spend a great deal of time helping our clients figure out ways to improve their applications by defining and prioritizing the business reasons and user objectives for the existence of the application. At the end of 2018, we got the opportunity to do that for ourselves. It helped us to remember that even though change is hard, there are best practices to evolving and navigating it. As we head into 2019 and think about the change and evolution of our users, services and processes, we wanted to share a few things to keep in mind as you face change in your own organization.

Embrace New Ideas and Concepts – Even If Initially They Feel Impossible

In every brainstorm session there tends to be that one person who shoots down all the new ideas because they may not be feasible when related to the current situation. Just because an idea may not be feasible out of the gate doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea. It may spark other ideas, or it may be a concept your business is not ready for yet. At minimum, open brainstorming fosters collaboration. We know from our experience that the best solutions come from surfacing a lot of ideas collaboratively.

Instead of immediately discounting a farfetched idea as unfeasible, take some time to understand where the idea came from. Ask questions and see if other new concepts can surface from it. 

Let it Marinate for a Bit

Sometimes receiving a lot of input and change all at once can be overwhelming - even if the changes are good and the ideas are exciting. We always recommend letting new concepts and big ideas marinate for a while. Whenever we conduct concepting sessions with our client, we always recommend having a day in-between to let the ideas become familiar, allow for evaluation, and the identification of new facets or aspects to the problem. Allowing time for an idea to sit and marinate gives your brain time to process and think about something else, and more often than not it allows for more innovation and creativity when you come back to revisit it. It also provides some time to understand and decide whether or not the new direction will be a positive change for the business and what other aspects need to be considered.

Get Inspired

Inspiration has always been a key component to our process. Sometimes things that are completely unrelated to the topic we are working on can provide a foundation for an idea to grow and allow for change. Look at how others have solved similar problems and dissect them to determine what components would work - and more importantly - won’t work for you. Sometimes having and evaluating a list of things that other do poorly in your market is more powerful then admiring the competition only for what they do well. You can uncover more possibilities and create more opportunities for growth and innovation.

Understand Impact on Others

Change can be hard for people to accept at times, especially if they have been in the habit of doing something the same way for a very long time. We see it a lot during the research we do with users of business to business applications. These applications don’t get overhauled very often and we see our client’s end users jumping through many convoluted hoops in order to get a relatively simple process completed because “that is how they always do it”. There can be trepidation about changing something that is familiar because it may require work to learn a new process. 

We like to learn about how change will impact our client’s end users. In doing so, we look for ways to help them be successful out of the gate by integrating familiar terminology and functionality into our solution to ensure they don’t feel overwhelmed or resentful of the changes. It’s important to carry aspects of the familiar over to the new experience along with embracing evolution.

Embracing change and looking for better and more efficient ways of doing things is at the core of excellent user experience design. If you would like to learn more about how we can help you foster exciting change in your business or if you would like to visit us in our new office to experience a collaborative, co-working environment, contact us, we’d love to chat.

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