McLaren Applied Technologies is renowned for its cutting-edge simulation and prediction techniques. Its expertise in modelling and decision science lie at the very heart of its pioneering, industry-leading decision support tools. However, its prodigious technical capabilities are not the sole reason for its capacity to glance into the future to predict outcomes.
For over five years, McLaren Applied Technologies has been building and strengthening its design capability. Its Design Group is currently home to a team of just under 30 leading designers and engineers, charged with creating value across the business by leveraging the power of design.
The team has embraced a philosophy of ‘insight driven design’. We generate insight thanks to data taken from people, places, or things, using our sensing and analytics capabilities; yet more often we gain our insight through direct interaction with people, such as end-users and colleagues.
We use design as a tool to allow ourselves and our partners to predict behaviour, and to provide insight into product development workstreams. This insight informs critical decisions, brings to light hidden relationships between otherwise invisible relationships, and ultimately reduces risk during the capital-intensive product development process.
Through rapid concepting, prototyping and user engagement, we quickly build an in-depth knowledge of how people think, feel and react to ideas and experiences. We develop an accurate understanding of their lifestyles, behaviours and values, as well as their mindsets and decision-making rationale. Equipped with this knowledge, we can put ourselves in the position of the end-user to ensure their expectations are met; becoming true user advocates, bringing their voice and opinion into the product development path.
Good design has always been about achieving the delicate balance between competing constraints, yet the impact of making key decisions is not always immediately obvious early in the product development process. Through realisation of product concepts, we can visualise the consequences of key constraints and the options that are open to us, and very quickly gauge the potential real-life impact of these decisions before committing to final designs.
We simulate the use of products and services that are years away from full technical development, and we do this in parallel with technical workstreams to ensure that our concept designs are grounded in reality – at the edge of what is possible. This is a powerful tool to inform decision-making. It ensures that usability and desirability remain priorities alongside other more tangible decision criteria, such as technical complexity, lead time, and level of risk.
Over time, design has become synonymous with defining the look or feel of something – demonstrating what something may look like. Whereas at McLaren Applied Technologies, it is about so much more; we employ the design process to deliver far greater value.
We use design to enable our partners to understand the true meaning and value a product will have for the consumer, predict its market reception, and demonstrate to what extent different elements contribute to its value.
We use design to increase the likelihood of success. Ultimately, preventing the failure of a new product, service or system is just as valuable, if not more than, the creation and realisation of the design itself.