Old colleague of mine left the company to continue her PhD in an academic project in metal industry. The main problem is the old one - how to get users needs and opinions better into consideration in product development.
The same issue continues to puzzle in all branches where R&D plays a role in success or failure of products. I see this area as area where industrial designers operate. We are supposed to be the answer to the very problem! -Why have we failed?
Industrial designers have learned the methods of user centered design, we can conduct user studies and usability studies, we can recognize behaviors and see the parts which could be improved. We can even improve service processes. Why majority of the industrial designers skip most of this and work only on trends, forms, surfaces and finishes?
-Could it in the end be the lack of competence?
-Could it be the strict organization models?
-Credibility in the eyes of management?
-One possibility is our own ambitions. Every industrial designer wanting to be a "Star Designer" - drawing masterpieces with just intuition.
-Or could the reason be the lack of terms and definitions for a industrial designer that not only makes an artistic interpretation of the actual product, but also finds and uses the user data to create a product proposition to this foundation?
-In the end, it might be just a matter of education and knowledge in the company management.
I have described the work of industrial designer as fighting against windmills. The management is slow, stubborn and resists change. All the little pieces of change and true needs of user that we can fight to the products are all little victories! -It's just to decide that which mills you want to fight against and by which means :)