Disco John

Designed to Work

We are a strategic design consultancy helping business leaders and internal teams work with confidence and rigor.

We’ve stopped counting the number of years Mule has been kicking. Let’s just say “the entire 21st century”. That’s close enough. We’ve partnered with organizations of every description. Fortune 50 companies. Nascent startups. International foundations. Universities. Newspapers. Non-profits. B2B. B2C. B2P(eople pretending to be their pets). The UN. An NGO in Madagascar. We helped them all approach design and technology as goal-directed humanists.

We may not have seen it all, but we’ve seen A LOT. And learned a few things.

Value must precede experience

User-centered design only solves one side of the equation, and in doing so creates more and bigger problems. Businesses fail, and fail their customers, when they create user-centered experiences without considering business value. You can’t serve your customers if you don’t exist. And a business model isn’t something you can tack on at the end. We’ve seen the results of the growth-first mindset. The design of any system needs to consider the business, the customer, and the wider context in one holistic process. Evidence-based, value-centered design is the only way forward.

Artifacts aren’t enough

Why is there so much bad design in the world even though we know so much about the craft of design? Because a design process set up around creating nice artifacts doesn’t guarantee good decisions. Bad design—the design that loses money, or harms people, or makes everyone’s jobs harder—is the result of bad decisions. It doesn’t matter how skilled the designers are.

Most organizations never take a step back to look at how they make design decisions, leaving their carefully recruited staff mired in politics rather than free to work to the best of their abilities.

Designing is a conversation

We’re all just people working together to try to accomplish something. Even if the objective and the technology are complex, we are people working with other people. Once we lose sight of that, things take a bad turn.

This means we have to talk to each other. The success of the work tracks directly with the success of the conversation. Is everyone involved sufficiently well-informed? Do we have a clear shared goal? Is there a productive exchange of ideas? Arguing isn’t even a thing to be avoided! Sometimes it’s the best way to solve a problem.

Onward to new problems

The design business has changed. Business has embraced design and organizations have scaled up internal teams. So, now the most interesting design problems are the organizations themselves. We help teams master the skills no one teaches in design school and help leaders make better decisions about design. Through training, coaching, and strategy consulting, our expertise will help make your team a Mule team.

Ok, let’s work together.