Being Beta

Exercises in the higher banter with One of 26. Elsewhere called 'poet of adland'. By a whipple-squeezer. Find out why being beta is the new alpha: betarish at googlemail dot com

Thursday, October 25, 2007

InterSections 07: 2 - The challenge of design thinking

Notes from a talk by Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO:

- IDEO is moving upstream - to the discovery and strategy side of design

(Daljit of Digit was right - we need to be more colourful in what we wear as a community)

- How IDEO got to design thinking - not necc the dominant idea in design today

- Trained to develop and design products. But that work can do damage - eg trash. (He designed the colourful iMacs). These things have a dangerous longevity?

- Design needs to be optimistic: it looks to the future, imagining better possibilities for the man-made world. A positive impact - and definitions of this have become to narrow: ego, or business bottom line in an outmoded industrial system.

- Aesthetic experience of products: use form and behaviour to create delight, use and understanding.

- Design as an interdisciplinary and collaborative process: interaction and human factors, to tackle more complex issues. Create more usable and desirable products.

- Design consulting vulnerable after NasDaq bust - how move upstream, make design part of innovation?

- Create a new movement, like Bahaus. David Kelly asked the question, how do we talk about design to the outside world? 'Design thinking' is about the process, and not just the output.

- How does design thinking lead to a positive impact? Especially in globalising, climating changing, urbanising times. How can design be more strategic, leading to sustainable improvement, and positive net business impacts?

- WorldClock - poodwaddle.com

- Focus of new problems: New problems and new approaches means learning more, faster, on the edge - which is evolution.

- Revolutionary innovation: go beyond incremental change, as this leads to commodisation and is not sustainable. Starters, create a new category. Eg work with Shimano to make a more accessible bike - 'coasting'. It's all about building a coalition. IDEO didn't even get to design the bikes - OEMs did instead. More disruptive things - have to let go of.

- Public services innovations: in US, funded by NGO, rather than Design Council. Eg, how get higher levels of blood donations (is a complex service, relying on volunteers, who do it for varying and emotional reasons). There's only so much you can do in the studio - live prototypes on location, and then iterate.

- Sustainablility: Create better experiences with fewer resources - that's the aim. And who knew thyme (with a few additions) can be an effective killer of bugs, including MRSA. IDEO set up a company to manufacture this stuff, as none of their clients wanted to disrupt their chain. Look out for 'Clean & Well'.

- Convergence in healthcare: between management and prevention, and social and individual behaviour - how manage any of this? Good example: the Aravind Eye Care System - innovating everywhere, even making their own lenses, teaching and consulting: 21 of 26 of the management come from the same family, and still practice.

- Goods and services for the poor: with HP on microfinance - possible to digitally enable? Doing user-centered design in villages meant developing new observational techniques. Toy technology can help: needs to be cheap and robust - eg paper interfaces, which can be customised by pen/hand.

- These projects are more complex: human (desirable), tehcnology (possible), business (viable) equals design thinking. These are all fluid at the same time: user ecosystems, emergence, and business model innovations.

- Clients are changing: the world is interdependent - funding, creating, investing etc.

- Leading to a new type of entrepreneurs, esp social entrepreneurs. The Acumen Fund in NYC is VC fund for social problems.

- Expanding design thinking:
1) human factors now is about understanding groups and social behaviour; utilising collaborators. Web 2.0 allows for new types of collaborative design, eg Crowdspirit designing new electronics; Sweat Equity Enterprises and communities of purpose, with new ideas more valuable as they are more connected to the local audience.
2) from prototyping to storytelling: more complex solutions need to be explained through stories and narratives.
3) craft: no less relevant, but different roles to play. Eg how be compelling? Can't do strategy without narratives.

- Design thinkers need to be broad, and have a new kind of education. eg d.school at Stanford. Create thinkers who can work alongside designers.

- Design schools AND design thinking schools are needed - because craft is still needed.

- Are the positive impacts happening? Too early to say, but are some places where can start to observe and measure.

- Innovation has to be a portfolio: many projects on the go at once.

- Measure attention: 15% of IDEO time on design thinking type projects (250,000 design hours or 60 projects). It's an R&D portfolio. Difficult to identify and fund too.

- Memes: process and frameworks that can be used by others.

- Inspirational stories: from successful outcomes from successful projects.

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