The power of knowing nothing

Finding solutions through new perspectives

The future will require a higher degree of cooperation between organisations. Designers can, through their perspective as observers visualise and facilitate collaboration in ways that few others can. And their power lies in knowing nothing.

Many years ago, I was an IT-project manager in a global telecom company. In complex IT projects, there are often complex problems. Whenever these occurred, we gathered a bunch of experts in a room and discussed the issue for hours, sometimes without reaching a solution.

It happens far too often that we fall in love with our ideas or hold on to the wrong answer. We need to learn to kill our darlings!
Ulla Sommerfelt, CEO, EGGS Design

One day a designer, who wasn’t an IT-expert, joined the team. She listened to everyone and started to sketch what people were saying and then drew up possible solutions. This was an a-ha moment! First of all, we discovered that the ten experts in the room had been talking about ten different things. A simple hand sketch helped us realise this and we could start talking about the same thing. Secondly, the visualisation of the solutions gave us something concrete to work with. It made us more creative, and we could start experimenting and finding a functioning solution quicker.

That's how I discovered the power of design.

Sometimes it’s an advantage to know nothing

Does this situation sound familiar? You’re in a meeting with highly competent people who all want to be right. Most are only waiting for their turn to speak instead of listening to what the others are saying. Some are even skeptical about the others’ expertise. This is not an ideal atmosphere for innovation. Designers have methods to help bring out people’s creativity and to co-create solutions. They can bring in different perspectives and make us see things from several angles. They can do this precisely because they are NOT experts on IT, macroeconomy, epidemiology, or whatever area the problem belongs to.

"The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing."
The designer is a non-threatening person in the context, and she or he can play the role of the catalyst and facilitator for the cooperation. She knows how to make others shine by asking the right questions.

The power of visualisation

Many have used design thinking in post-it filled workshops. Some leaders have told me that they thought it a breath of fresh air, a break in their everyday work, but that it didn’t lead to much more. This is what I call corporate entertainment - let’s stay away from that. It’s vital to get something concrete to work with. Parallel with the facilitation, the ideas that come out need to be drawn up, as there is great power in visualisation. When we can see our ideas, it’s easier to see their potential, and it’s possible to test them out together with stakeholders, such as clients or partners. The designer also plays an essential role as the observer.

It’s much easier for an outsider to see what needs to be explained further, visualised or simplified.
Ulla Sommerfelt, CEO, EGGS Design

Many ideas will be discarded before you land on something that can be developed further into a concrete product, service, or partnership model. In the beginning, it’s essential to allow for experimenting with different options and possibilities. You need to make sure that you’re solving the right problem before you start developing a solution. It happens far too often that we fall in love with our ideas or hold on to the wrong answer. We need to learn to kill our darlings!

New partnerships and collaborations

Design methods’ that were initially used for designing objects are now being scaled up to be applied when designing cross-innovation projects. If we think it’s hard to arrange collaboration within organisations, that’s still nothing compared to making cooperation between different organisations work.

With the help of facilitation and visualisation from designers, Port Esbjerg could elaborate a concept for reduction of CO2 emissions which all the stakeholders can stand behind.

For example, Port Esbjerg wishes to reach the goal of a 70% CO2 emission reduction by 2030 – a goal they can’t reach without cooperation from the different companies in the port. One of the existing initiatives aims to invest in shore power. Port Esbjerg invited EGGS Design as facilitators to elaborate a common target that everyone could agree upon, despite having different business goals and economic situations. The port now has created a uniting concept that can be developed further into concrete solutions.

The world is calling for new partnerships and more cooperation. To succeed with this, someone needs the play the part of an independent, unknowing facilitator, perspective generator, and solution-creator. That’s the designer in a nutshell.

Sounds interesting?

Ulla Sommerfelt

Have a chat with our Co-founder
Ulla Sommerfelt
+47 922 97 440

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