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Ted Talk, The First Secret to Design is Noticing

Look at the world as it is, not as it could be—Tony Fadell gives this advice as the approach by which to tackle the problems that we face and how we attempt to fix them. In this TED talk, Fadell shares his knowledge of product design and the role that habituation has in shaping not only how people think but also how innovators create their products in response. He encourages seeing the world afresh, with all its shortcomings and discrepancies intact, so that real problems can be met with real solutions, resulting in an all-around impressive product to market and sell.

 Fadell explains how a process called habituation can “[stop] us from noticing the problems that are around us” and sometimes even from “fixing those problems,” and thus it is important to not only notice the problems, but “go one step further and try to fix them.” He says that solving a problem that everyone is aware of is much easier than solving one that people do not notice.

He recounts how, during his time at Apple, Steve Jobs encouraged the employees to try to see the products “through the eyes of the customer, the new customer,” in order to always see things afresh and imagine the thought process and needs of a beginner using a foreign product. This perspective allows for little problems and nuances to stand out, so that habituation does not prevent problems to go unnoticed and unaccounted for.

He offers three tips: look broader, look closer, and think younger. For the first tip, he says that there are often many steps that lead to a problem, therefore it is necessary to see the whole picture. For the second, it is important to see the little details to gauge whether they are important enough to implement change or not. For the last, he talked about how children are wired to immediately try to solve problems and can see the world more clearly “before a lifetime of habits [get] in the way.” Oftentimes, children can come up with better solutions to problems because everything is fresh to them. So it is good to be able to think young, because by doing so “we can stay beginners.”

Marketers, entrepreneurs, and innovators alike can implement better tactics and strategies by taking a step back to see things as they are, honing in on whatever details or problems that are present, and then tackling the issue with a fresh point of view.

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