Designing is problem solving and follows in general a similar process cycle even if not always consciously orchestrated.

Someone identifies a problem or opportunity and sets out to find a solution for it. Usually the first step would be to learn more about the task, problem or area in which an opportunity seems to occure in order to define a design brief and aim. Usually this is a process which carries on during the actual creation and evaluation phase even though the (initial draft of the) brief has been written. As we know, criteria sometimes change even though everyone agreed not to do so. However, once the parameter starting to become clear our mind shifts into ideation mode. Ideas are expressed verbally, visually or physically and are almost instantly evaluated to some degree. That's why it is so hard to not judge during brain storm sessions - we are just very trained in fast idea-evaluation cycles. If we can't seem to evaluate the idea right away we tend to tested it somehow. Sketching is one of these ideation-testing-analysing-cycles.

In design we have an array of other tools to test and evaluate ideas. This guarantees a structured and more efficient solution finding process than the more chaotic, intuitive approach in everyday life situations. With gained information we either run another cycle (iteration) or implement a successful solution - which can be a certain component or the whole system.

This cycle is the blueprint for the entire design process, but happens also in each development step to a certain degree. The more complex a task or problem is, the more cycles we are likely to run through to reach a successful solution. The first draft is usually never like the final outcome, but a simplified concept or an expressed ideal (compromise-free) solution. That's why OND separates ideation and refinement phase.

In order to analyse a design problem or to evaluate an idea or possible solution OND follows the design research rule of: Don't assume. Ask, Observe, Perform!

We know that for designers, engineers and product planners it is very tempting to keep sitting on ones desk and clicking away in order to work on a product development or design task. Time seems too precious to leave, but on the long run it is a good pathway to do just that if you are interested in sustainable success. Leaving the desk in order to talk to users, investigate their environment and the market first hand, bench mark competitor products by trying them out or building models to test in real life what seemed a good idea on paper (or screen) comes with a cost initially, but pays off in the long run.

No wonder that the mantra in current successful design and innovation processes is "fail early and fail often". It is clearly cheaper to change a card board model than a steel injection moulding tool or fixing your reputation with expensive PR campaigns once the damage is done.

OND therefore works in your, the clients, best interest when suggesting some extra hours on initial research and testing even though the task and problems seem obvious or a certain solutions seems already like the winner in theory.

It is amazing what a little extra time spend on observing a product in its environment, testing a paper mock-up or asking users about a their impression on photo realistic renderings of an concept can reveal. - And how this sometimes can change the outcome to an unsuspected, but critically improved solution.

A great product is outweighing even the best advertising campaign trying to boost the weak or mediocre.

How to get started


Note down some keywords around your project.
Use Mind map template to get started (download here). Additionally compile some visual material explaining
your project or inspirations. 

Summarize essential information about the project you envision. This can be simply re-styling a product or technical concept, idea visualization, new product development, identify opportunities through market and trend reviews or new technology or material use. See project brief as a guide.

 Get in contact with us to arrange an initial free consultation and quote. Feel free to propose what the work would be worth to you - we will look into reasonable proposals if the challenge is interesting to us.

Arrange a kick-off workshop with all parties/people involved in the project to collect all existing information, ideas, want and needs. Invite at least a representative of decision makers and strategic leaders, marketing, product planning, engineering (R&D), production/manufacturing and design team. 

This will enable a flying start with clear communication and already a pile of feasible ideas to work on and test. We are trained moderators and enable a efficient and result-driven use of the groups time together.

Mindmap Project Brief K-WorkshoP