Poking Holes in Design

How to Ensure Value Creation

Instead of presenting predetermined solutions, I was a customer advocate.
- Sabrina Leigh-Godfrey, Arizona State University ‘19

Sabrina Leigh-Godfrey

Poking Holes in Design: How to Ensure Value Creation

by Sabrina Leigh-Godfrey, September 7, 2019. This article originally appeared in the KEEN 2019 Annual Report. Reprinted with permission.

During my Entrepreneurship and Value Creation class at Arizona State University, many of my notions about “good” product design were totally upended. While I had exposure to a variety of problem-solving scenarios in previous classes, the concept of creating value was new to me. 

I had never faced the prospect that my innovative solutions, even though “correct,” might not be accepted by the public.

I learned that creating value in design means listening to others through customer interviews, in addition to thinking critically. 

I don’t mean thinking critically in the traditional sense. I mean to literally think about the design in order to critique its value. We need to go after our design decisions with forks and knives so we can poke as many holes as possible. Once the holes are found, they can be fixed, and our pitch becomes more and more evidence-based. 

This insight inspired a newfound zeal for customer discovery and collecting feedback. My attitude for this work drastically changed. I wanted to step into the customers’ shoes and justify the value of design through their eyes and their internal struggles. 

This approach also allowed me to understand competitors from the customer’s point of view.

IRA Arizona State University

This knowledge helped me get my job as a solutions engineer. The hiring process included a presentation for hypothetical clients who had little-to-no background on what solutions they wanted. I focused on the philosophy of customer discovery and included questions for the clients about their pain points. Instead of presenting predetermined solutions, I was a customer advocate. After the presentation, the interviewers shared that I was ahead of their new graduate training. I doubt I could have landed this great job without the practice I gained in value creation in FSE 301.

Meet the Author

Sabrina Leigh-Godfrey

At the time of this article, Sabrina was a Computer Systems Engineering Major, Arizona State University ‘19. She is currently an Academy Solutions Engineer at VMware.

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