Anyone for soup? – Is your product inclusive by design, you might think so but is it really?

ByJoanne Lockwood

Anyone for soup? – Is your product inclusive by design, you might think so but is it really?

Anyone for soup?

Your company is one that produces products for the mass markets, consumer products that you naturally expect that everyone can use and can benefit from, am I right?

You engage with your own product design teams, probably carry out market research to make sure that every aspect has been considered from all angles, after all you have been in the business for many many decades and have extensive experience in this market. 

Some might even call you the de facto brand.  So I am sure it would surprise you to learn that you have inadvertently excluded approximately 10% of the population immediately from using your product efficiently.

Are you too established to adapt to change?

So you are; “Thermos”, THE go to company and brand for vacuum based flasks and products, and according to the website “Thermos has had the hottest and the coolest products since 1904” so that is a very long time to get things refined and right.

Okay, where am I going, what is this major design floor I am talking about…? 

Who would have thought that a simple oversight in design has therefore excluded so many customers from being able to enjoy their product to its fullest?

Well it’s the ‘spoon’, that little item that comes with the Thermos Soup Flask that enables you to eat your soup straight from the flask.  It was probably considered an engineering marvel, it folds and fits into the specially designed lid; how practical and effective it is; a marvel of an innovation. I am sure it has probably been nominated for design awards, sure why not! –

It’s the spoon, the spoon!

However, with all of the millions spent on product design and research, Thermos still managed to forget about nearly 10% of the population because their testing was not fully diverse and inclusive in its thinking – not everybody was considered in its operation.

Can you see the problem?

Why? – Well the spoon simply does not work for Left Handed people or those that use a spoon in their left hand.  The act of applying pressure with your left-hand index finger during the scoping and eating causes the spoon to bend at one of the joints. 

This makes it tricky and fiddly to use, as well as clumsy and potentially messy – not good ☹.

I know this because I am a left-hander and soup eater! – Yet again I am “suffering” (ok – its a first world problem I know) as a minority in a world designed for the benefit of others!

So, if a company, such as, Thermos is not fully inclusive in its design concept, how about your own business?  Do you have a diversity of thought, opinion and experience to influence your own processes and brand?

When you hear about Diversity and Inclusion as a driving force as a differentor, being able to develop to explore new markets, don’t forget your existing customers, staff and stakeholders that you are potentially already excluding by not thinking about them in your processes and products.

Does this sound like your organisation?

You need to be able to examine your own organisation from top to bottom, think about engagement and diversity in all elements of your businesses, not forgetting inclusion and embedding that with your teams.

As always let me leave you with three things to remember;

  • Are you considering “everyone” in your processes and design?
  • Who isn’t being represented, and how do they get a voice?
  • How can you evolve your culture to be Diverse and Inclusive by default?

Can you see change happening?

Call me to continue the conversation on how I can help you build a Transformational and Engaging D&I Strategy and Vision.

[Words: 596]

© Joanne Lockwood, 2019 – SEE Change Happen

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About the author

Joanne Lockwood administrator

SEE Change Happen: Transgender Awareness & Inclusion