design consultant workflow : linear vs non-linear

i have some thoughts and I want your take on this.
We all know that design is sometimes a non-linear process specially in development stage. However as a design consultant, we propose our project milestones by a linear process and our client expect us to stick with it.

How do you deal with this? is this where you should compromise as consultant?

Set expectations upfront and educate…

also it depends on the project, some projects can be very linear with minimal iterative loops others need to wash rinse and repeat much more. Where i am now it is constantly a educational opportunity to show individuals the repetitive cycle during RD vs commercialization but i articulate and show them upfront the road map and the stages as well as the risk of going to fast.

i have business partners and engineers and designers who all think it is a linear process and try to fit it into a static timeline and vice a versa…

In the end i find it very helpful to create my road maps in a simple visual format and take my team and investors on a walk through of the journey that we are going to talk about and the path that we will follow

Seems this is directly related to the budget as the process is simple. Don’t know if I’d call the process “linear” or “non-linear”, whichever label floats your boat I guess…

Problem. Have idea. > Evaluate idea. > Have idea. > Evaluate idea. > …

Now if a client want to pay me indefinitely, I can come up with ideas indefinitely. But unfortunately, that is never the case and I am restricted by budget. When the budget runs out, the idea-spigot is closed. Baby needs a new pair of shoes.

I tend to show it as a funnel, though it is not necessarily true either, but it allows for some swirl out at the early phases.

thanks for the thoughts, guess that in the end it depend on the clients budget and our expertise to reduce trial error