2010  December 5

The Two Briefs

At WEF Dubai, a design leader of a major company spoke of the two kinds of briefs his team usually received from internal clients:

1/ A brief that is broad and exploratory that can help understand the customer better to spark inventiveness. There is an openness to the solution space.

2/ A brief with a clearly defined problem and the solution described at the end of the statement. What’s “off the table” in cost or functionality is made clear.

The latter he called “an engineered spec” and the former he essentially referred to as an RFV, or “Request For Vision.” My previously defined Brennan’s Hierarchy of Imagination ascribes this discrepancy with top-of-the-pyramid design as an RFV -- usually coming from a decision maker with a longer time horizon view, or OPEN; the bottom-of-the pyramid design as spec-based and usually coming from a decision maker that is tightly time- and resource-constrained, or NOW.

Most everyone lives in the NOW especially in times of crisis. But to clear a long-term path our of NOW, you need to allocate room for the OPEN. One could argue that NOW is about managing, and OPEN is about leading. Doing both is key. So both briefs are welcome.

When you want the answer and know the answer, then you don’t really need a designer.

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