Most often it is thought that creativity is the number one requirement of being a successful designer. I don’t agree so. Being an industrial designer myself, I find the process more analytical than creative. The ideas for new products don’t just come flying to us, they are rather formed after a series of steps that form “Design Thinking”
Let’s start from the beginning. The client comes to you, in need of a new product/service or a development for an existing one. (Or you go to a client, which is the case for most start up design teams). You start by listening to their perspective on their products. What they think their product offers, what they think their customers think, the technical capabilities and feasibilities.
Then… you forget about what you heard. You go to the actual users; the people who will pick up the product from the store shells, pay for it, use it and hopefully come back to buy it again. You ask them questions, observe them using similar products, read their body language and hear subtext that they don’t say out loud. It is important to define the real problem, even though it is not the most obvious one.
After defining the problem, you start experimenting and looking for solutions: not just one, but many of them. Mostly because your first idea is going to fail. This part of the process is the most important one: prototyping-testing-failing-retesting. You create experience prototypes (Something to represent your idea three dimensionally) to test your ideas, take it to the users and see what they think. This way you get a clue on where your idea fails and where it succeeds. You learn form the mistakes, fix the failures and create a better version of your initial idea.
Meanwhile, don’t forget about the constant negotiations happening between you and engineers in your team or the production department; claiming your idea is not feasible. (What a nonsense!)
Nowhere in this research-experiment-test process, the design team makes a decision because they feel like it. Users tell you what problem you should solve and which solution works the best. If designers can put themselves in the shoes of end-users, then they can create successful products.