What if you could gain everything you learn from a mistake, without experiencing all the pain of actually making the mistake? What if you could shorten the distance between having a great idea and proving just how great it is? What if, instead of designers worrying about what could go wrong, they could be a bit more, well, ‘what if’.
These two little words have always meant as much to our business as any of the technological and software innovations. Because, without the ‘what if’, designing products becomes more about the anxiety of failure than the adventure of discovery.
And yes, we know that design exists in the real world, with real deadlines, stakeholders, costs and consequences. But that doesn’t mean the creative freedom of ‘what if’ is a luxury you can’t afford. Our business began life as a product design service company, so we know precisely what ingredients go into the creation of an effective product. And we’d argue that the ingredient that has the biggest influence on a design’s success or failure is challenge.
How hard has this idea been challenged? How often, and in what ways, and by who? And when it’s been challenged in a thousand different ways, how can we challenge it some more?
But, back in the real world, the consequences of such rigorous challenge are hardly going to do wonderful things for your budget, release date or the nerves of your shareholders. Yet that is the sort of design environment we’ve always been so passionate about enabling. Our own ‘what if’ is: what if we could not only transform the way designers create products, but transform the way they make decisions too.
The way we see it, if a designer can quickly visualize the way their product will work – and fail – they are in control of their ‘what if’. If their ‘what if’ is all about exposing inefficiency and reducing waste, then let’s help them simulate where those inefficiencies might occur. If their ‘what if’ is about what will happen to a component under extreme stress, then let’s manufacture that stress right here and now. You don’t have to wait and wonder when you’re in control of your ‘what if’.
The entire cycle of effective product design is based on exploring, creating, experimenting and refining. And while that leaves no room for guessing or hoping, it also doesn’t allow for costly delays that grind the process to a halt. That’s why (and we’ll happily admit our bias) the ability to simulate, model and visualize enables designers to truly optimize their creations and have full confidence in their performance.
So while it may feel odd for a company who deals in science and technology to attach so much importance to the ‘what ifs’ we know it’s those all important sparks of curiosity in design that can transform the world in big and little ways. Roald Dahl once wrote that ‘you’ll never get anywhere if you go about what-iffing like that’, but if you can harness that ‘what-iffing’ to become creative and curious with complete confidence, we think you can get to some pretty amazing places.
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