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Gas

Liquid
 
Solid 

Since I am an engineer, this is how I started to thing about the design process- in phases. The properties of each of those phases draw parallels to both the "type of mind necessary" and the actual content that you are doing in each phase of design. ​
 

*Small disclaimer - someone before me has used this analogy to describe types of people... so it's not completely original* 

Design Process_2x (2).png

Gas 

This is the fun part, in my mind, where the crazy curve peaks.

Mindset // You have "gaseous people", or the ones who think on all spectrums of exploration. They are able to come up with some esoteric ideas and a lot of them. I envision these people like literal gas particles, with their brains moving around in so many different directions, ideas bumping into each other, and developing a ton of energy for what they will then move onto the liquid phase. The gaseous people turn broad, in-tangible problems or even spaces into beautiful prototypes through asking all the right questions, learning a ton, and --- 

Design Process // The process for this looks a little crazy. It starts with a TON of exploration, followed by fast exection (rapid prototyping, concept testing), and continual iteration. The cool part about this phase is that the entire time the designer is learning about the space they are solving in or the about the solutions that they have in mind. It is this labyrinth of discovery that I think is just magical, and I imagine it like a orchestra. You are creating something completely new, unheard of, but it is all created by things that are already know... pulling together all the instruments (customer insights, problem exploration, prior builds, technology, etc.) and layering it in such a way that it prouduces something that people have never heard (or in the case of products, that they have never had). Thats why designer belong in this gas phase, becuase they have the ability to let their mind wander in a million directions enough so you get a diverse amount of layers. 

... but eventually you must exit the labyrithn of discovery (otherwise you keep going in circles and never go anywhere). One of the hardest things, in my opinion, is knowing when to exit.

When do you stop the exploration and come out? 

It is when you know the correct problem that you are solving / correct niche that you are filling and you have the identified the solution space that you want to be in. Notice how I said "solution space", not SOLUTION- you do not have to have the final solution nailed out, because it will be iterated on due to the constraints of the liquid phase. 

How do you know you are in correct problem and solution space? 

Some call that designer intution, some companies have the "liquid brains" pull the gas brains out at points where they know it can make money, I have honestly yet to figure out a way to put the exit into words.  

Liquid 

This is the point where you attach some know-how to all the gaseous exploration and product development, and start applying market and business principles to our solution space. This is where you bring in the hard level pricing requirements & start to turn this into a product.

Minds // The minds that exist here are the startup product managers of the world that have enough flexibility to work with a product that is a bit fluid, but have the mindset of product requirment documents and constraints. They are able to understand the crazy minds of "woah, lets do this instead", but then apply the guiderails onto their thinking in terms of market feasibility/ other buisness principles. 

Design Process // Now, you have the problem correct problem you are solving, the solution space that you are  thinking of, and probably first prototypes of solutions. Things turn less airy now, and real world constraints of business get put on you... so questions like how much will this cost, how will we get materials, what the product market fit, etc. will be asked and answered. You are continously iterating and developing your product based on constraints and metrics that you have defined. As you iterate, the product gets closer to a specific market need, and you refine your user base as well as the tech that matches their needs. There is still a ton of learning in this phase, but it is definitely a lot more focused on creating a product. 

At the end of liquid, you have created something that is ready to be rolled out into market and you have your solid MVP

Crystal 

Time for something to turn into a working enterprise! It goes out into consumer economy and this is everything from that point onwards. 

Side Note- I am not very great at this part.. so I won't talk a ton about the process 

Mindset // Can understand and model human behavior on a large scale and think in terms of business viability. This is where society must meet your creation, and that requires a lot of process-driven thinkers that can deal with problems on large scales. These people think in terms of trends, metrics, and mass-consumer behavior 

Process // Continous Improvement + Maturity is what this is all about. You are thinking about competion, business strategy, and dealing with the humans that are using your product. I think about consulting and investment bankers here... which are basically looking at what has already been done to deal with flucations in the market and reapplying those principles at the correct time in order to sustain a business. 

... Ok now having all of that said. I developed a few 10,000 foot level opinions about the design process, specifically in the types of mindsets. First, gas mindsets never get along with crystal mindsets - they hate eachother. Gas can't mix with crystal and crystal can't mix with gas. That is why nearly 60% of founders get ousted from their company the second it starts to crystalize- think of Steve Jobs, the inactivity of Wozniac. But, if you can find a way to truly reconcile gas and crystal, allowing it to coexist and constantly be in contact, that is when you get innovative powerhouses. That loop from the end of crystal constantly back to gas is the loop of innovation, and it is so essential. 

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