Simon Rucker with a look at how good designers think:

Good designers aim to move beyond what you get from simply asking consumers what they need and want. First of all because they understand that most people when asked don’t say what they mean or mean what they say, but also because people often don’t know. Good designers want to unearth what consumers can’t tell them: latent & emerging needs and motivations; actual behaviors and attitudes; and, crucially, barriers to as well as drivers of change — or simply put, what your competitors don’t also already know.

He presents 5 points of how designers go about doing this:

  • Don’t think about consumers; think about people.

  • Don’t listen, observe.

  • Bring expertise in other categories and industries to bear

  • Look at what might all change

  • Pressure test your conclusions

What you’ll notice is that none of this is automated. None of it is something an analyst report can reveal to you or a computer can spit out the answer to. There is no silver bullet. It’s a paradigm shift of how you live your life, how you approach problems.

The most important thing, in my opinion, is to have taste and remain well–informed. So often, very intelligent people see something as brilliant innovation because it looks like a cool gizmo. You have to get over the shiny new thing syndrome and see beyond that. You can’t do it if you aren’t keeping up, instead getting bogged down in day to day muck.

But beyond all that, the key take–away here is to turn inspiration and ideas into reality:

When good designers talk about innovation, they mean (and I make no apologies for cribbing Lord Sainsbury’s much-quoted definition), “the successful exploitation of new ideas.” They don’t stop with the invention. They turn their inspirations into reality.

“Many firms are plagued by articulate and persuasive ‘smart talkers’ who sound good in meetings but get bogged down in abstract complexities.” Good designers are good at what I call inspirational tangibility, “making it real,”