Over my 15 years of being involved with the early stages of the design process, there is one technique that I use time and time again.

Katie Wishlade
Katie Wishlade
20th January 2021

It’s a technique that hones in on the characteristics of a concept by not only defining the things it is but also the things that it isn’t on the same continuum. I often don’t run this as an explicit workshop exercise but simply let the characteristics fall out by facilitating a discussion around purpose.

The end result is often a very simple table which contains a series of sets of characteristics, with each set being on the same continuum.

Top tips:

  • Ensure these characteristics focus on the unique things about the service and the things that really differentiate it.
  • Keep it to a short list in order to keep it more memorable.
  • Include a rationale to explain the reason behind each statement, as this helps to capture the conversation that led to this definition.
A chart showing it is and it isn't statements for a travel client

More recently I used this technique to define scope by defining the things that we are doing but also the things that are not doing.

A chart showing we are and we are not statements for a finance client

It’s incredibly simple but in my experience capturing the isn’t terms is so powerful in really reinforcing the things that it is. So give it a try!