Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Honda Design Philosophy: What we can learn

One of the world’s most successful car companies: Honda.

The lessons that one can learn from such a success are innumerable! Here, I would like to highlight their design philosophy and how it can help us in our work.

It is the design which lifts up the imperfect to something attractive or beautiful. In addition, true design means a design which perfectly satisfies the need for practicality.
-Shoichiro Honda, 1977

Many a times the requirements that we get are imperfect and vague. The customer is sometimes not even in a position to define what is required. It is up to us how we design the business case, the technical architecture, the user interfaces and bring out the best value possible. But, we should not forget the practicality of the solution. Nonetheless, the practicality may not be understood by all, therefore, it is our responsibility to keep it in high priority.

Design has to be a symphony for our eyes. Individual positions must be designed one by one while maintaining a good overall balance. Having said that, if we worry too much about overall balance, there is a risk of making it a please-everyone design with no unique characteristics.
-Shoichiro Honda, 1977

We can re-phrase the line to, “Design should be a symphony to our senses”. The way we work and the work we do should give us a good feeling. Even a simple work such a making a ppt is sometimes ignored by many. We should realize that every small step towards a project builds up the image in the customer’s perspective. Hence, every detail should be designed well to maintain an overall balance. It is important to note that our objective should not be to get a please-everyone design but to get a good overall balance while giving attention to details.

Man Maximum, Machine Minimum

How many times, we notice that we depend a lot on jargons and technical terms. These jargons and technical terms are no more than machine parts for us. They are necessary but not in excess. In the end we should ask, have we conveyed our idea to the consumer? A consumer for a BA can be the technical lead or programmer. A consumer for a consultant can be the client. A consumer for a UI lead can be the end user.