Fast Company

Why You Should Have a Threesome, and Solving Other Partner Problems

This week, Stuart Karten will be answering your most pressing innovation inquiries and design dilemmas.

stuart karten

Dear Stuart,

My client wants to bring her friend from the engineering department into our relationship. She's in marketing and we have great rapport--she listens to all of my ideas and is very supportive. I feel like her engineering friend is more of a downer. How can I accommodate my partner's wishes without getting tied down by constraints?

Vaporously,
Free Spirit

Dear Free Spirit,

As much as a couple loves each other, it is not healthy for them to spend all of their time in isolation. Friendships, both yours and your client's, can enrich your relationship. Instead of viewing Engineering as an enemy, think of them as an ally, there to ensure that your dreams make it down the assembly line into production. Some of my best work experiences have happened in diverse teams--with designers participating in research, engineers joining early in brainstorming sessions and designers overseeing projects through engineering. Remember that constraints breed creativity!

Stuart

•••

Dear Stuart,

When I first started seeing my design partner a few years ago, things were great and we were very successful. But given the recent economy, I've had to make some cutbacks and reign in spending. I want to stay together, but it's hard to keep things going on such a tight budget. Is there any way to make this work?

Ouch!
Pinching Pennies in Pennsylvania

•••

Dear Pennies,

It's definitely hard to make ends meet, especially during this recession. I personally have started re-using my index cards as napkins. But smart companies have figured out that design is integral to the product development process, and are finding creative ways to keep the love alive on a budget.

One way to do this is by making sure that you capitalize on your designer's equity by employing him or her where most useful. For example, if your company has a great in-house engineering department, spend the design budget on concept development. Another option is to keep designers involved at every step, but cut the overall scope so instead of developing 12 concepts, for example, they will deliver three or four.

A good designer will try to work with your constraints. However, you should be wary about bargain-designer shopping, because the quality will likely suffer. Remember, you get what you pay for, so make the smart investment.

Stuart

•••

Dear Stuart,

GlobalCorp is looking to boost our YTD Q1 and Q2 G&NP by proactively strategizing to increase market share through CBA and CBD. By enabling both B2B and B2C offerings, we hope to launch numerous IPOs, with sites based primarily in HTML with SQL language. In order to align with key players and globalize our processes, we hope to get appropriate third party recommendations to up our ROI quotient and ensure satisfaction on individual EPS. GC's MDO has compared various data from MMR and MRI studies to suggest that the best product offering can be ascertained by appealing positively to cross-demographic consumer emotion management. Or in plain English: how can we synergize the GC POV with efficient top down CF to grab the low-hanging fruit while simultaneously utilizing optimal resources?

Will expect your response by EOD,
CEO

Dear Mr. CEO,

I have no idea what you just asked me. Should we try to find a translator who speaks Corporate and meet over a power lunch?

Stuart

Got a burning question for Stuart? Leave it in the comments and we'll be sure to get it answered.

Illustration by Greg Clarke.

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For 25 years, Stuart Karten Design (SKD) has been a strategic partner to companies seeking to differentiate their products through creativity and design. Connecting creativity with commerce, SKD designs products that serve as brand ambassadors for its clients and lead to greater market share and increased profit. SKD's team includes 25 includes designers, researchers and mechanical engineers who can guide a product from design conceptualization through final production. SKD is especially renowned for its medical products and its ear-centric devices, which have included communication headsets for Jabra and Plantronics, the Zōn hearing aid for Starkey Laboratories and noise-cancelling ear buds for Ultimate Ears.

SKD has been the recipient of numerous awards, including IDEA, Red Dot, iF, Good Design and the I.D. Annual Design Review. Conceptual "Epidermits Interactive Pet" was a part of Museum of Modern Art's recent Design and the Elastic Mind exhibition. In 2008, Fast Company magazine named SKD among America's top five "Design Factories" in its annual Masters of Design issue. Located near the beach in Marina del Rey, SKD is tapped into the cutting edge culture that defines Los Angeles with our fingers on the pulse of the trends that will affect the nation.

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