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Abby Godee of Philips on Getting More Value from Design

Doreen Lorenzo sat down with Abby Godee, head of design for the Healthcare Informatics Solutions and Services and Personal Health Solutions business groups at Philips, for her column in Co.Design. Godee brings a wealth of experience in innovation design, product design, and digital services strategy across industries: healthcare, consumer products, energy, and telecommunications.

One of the biggest lessons Godee has learned over the years is the importance of creating a common design language. Godee says, “We have so much confusing language. And I have to say, design has been guilty of that a lot over the years—of creating specialized language to talk about what design does, reinventing words in order to explain things. And that’s not really doing us a lot of good. More often than not, we don’t spend enough time coming to common words to mean the same thing, and aligning on expectations.”

One of the current issues is the popularity surrounding design, design thinking, and chief design officers, yet there is a lack of understanding in terms of how to leverage it. “So design’s still brought in too late, very often, still only a tenth of the design capabilities are actually being utilized, in some cases. So it’s very popular. But I am not sure it’s yet as effective as it could be,” Godee said.

Godee talked about leadership and her techniques for presenting different ideas that may face resistance. She explained the importance of knowing one’s audience and addressing their fears. in addition to understanding what will make them adopt an idea. Being an effective communicator equates to being direct yet gentle, and listening to others longer than you might think. In the world of business where empathy and emotional intelligence are not necessarily valued, Godee admits that these have become essential everyday traits for leading teams.



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