Design Future Now

How is design changing as a discipline and profession? How do we face these opportunities as a community? 

I started a new podcast with AIGA called Design Future Now to explore these kinds of questions and more with creative leaders and practitioners. This also means that I will be taking a hiatus from FoossaPod, the podcast that David Colby Reed and I started back in 2017, to focus on Design Future Now. Check out the latest episode below:

Subscribe to Design Future Now on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Overcast, Spotify, or Anchor.fm.

See Think Solve: A Simple Way to Tackle Tough Problems

Brainstorming and design thinking are great. But you, your team or your students need a more targeted way to solve complex problems. Social science holds the key.

We just released a new book.

Written by our friends and long-time collaborators Jeff Leitner and Andrew Benedict-Nelson, and designed by me and the Foossa team, See Think Solve is a simple guide to difficult problems.

Originally developed for a social work PhD program at the University of Southern California, it is written in an easy-to-read, jargon-free style for anyone interested in better understanding human behavior and how to design products, services, and programs that shift collective norms and culture. The ideas in the book have really shaped our consulting and teaching practice.

From the Introduction to See Think Solve:

The main reason problems are hard to solve is that they involve people. People are funny. They don’t always believe the things they say they believe or do the things they say they are going to do. They can act one way in one situation and act completely differently in another situation. No one has ever completely figured this out. We call this the ‘mystery of human behavior.’
The mystery of human behavior shapes almost every problem worth solving.
That’s the bad news. But there’s good news too. The mystery of human behavior also helps us see problems in new ways. By paying attention to people, we can discover new aspects of problems that help us solve them more effectively.
The nine steps in See Think Solve are designed to do just that. They will help you make sense of the mystery of human behavior that surrounds all tough problems.
– The first six steps are about seeing — each of them shows you a new thing to look for in human behavior.
– The next two steps are about thinking — each one is a tool you can use to better understand the human behaviors you have observed.
– The last step is about solving — it describes what you can accomplish with your newfound knowledge.”

See Think Solve Color Palette
See Think Solve Color Palette

About the Design

When planning the design for the book, we wanted to communicate both “simplicity” and “humanity.” The book is meant to be a simple guide to difficult social problems. To reflect this intention, we created an iconography that references both the periodic table of elements and the New York City Subway signage system by Massimo Vignelli and Bob Noorda. The icons serve as a kind of way-finding for readers of the book and help them remember each of the steps in the See Think Solve process. To add a rich, humanistic feel to the visuals, we chose a color palette derived from traditional Japanese art and design. The book cover also features subtle curves on a dark grey background, which are meant to evoke a topographical map or electromagnetic waves.

Learn Design Thinking, Facilitation, and Futurecasting Online, On Your Own Time

I recently returned from the CreativeLive studios in Seattle, where we produced three online classes on Design Thinking for innovation, facilitationfor Design Thinking, and Futurecasting.

The three classes are rebroadcasting for FREE on CreativeLive this week, and are also currently available for purchase to view on-demand or download. Check out the course descriptions below or on my CreativeLive profile.

1. Design Thinking for Business Innovation

 How To Use Design Thinking To Transform Your Business

You know that one of the top trends in business innovation these days is design thinking. Only problem is, you’re not quite sure what it is. You’ve heard it described in a bunch of different ways, and you’re starting to wonder if no one else understands it either.

But the truth is, design thinking is one of the most effective new methods and mindsets for framing and solving problems. Top businesses, organizations, consultancies, schools and governments are adopting it as a way to innovate their processes and service offerings, using human empathy, design principles, action-oriented solutions, imagination, intuition and systematic reasoning.

Learn more about Design Thinking for Business Innovation>>

2. Become a Design Thinking Facilitator

 Take Design Thinking To The Next Level By Leading Your Team

So you’ve done your homework and you now understand what design thinking is and the power it has to revolutionize the way you do business. But the only way it can really have an impact is if key players throughout your organization embrace design thinking principles and are willing to put them into practice.

Basically, you need to become a design thinking evangelist, coach and trainer. This course will instruct you on how to explain the method and mindset for creative problem framing and solving and show others how to implement this innovative process.

Learn more about Become a Design Thinking Facilitator>>

3. Futurecasting for Product Innovation

Ensure Your Organization’s Relevance And Sustainability

We live in a rapidly changing world, and that includes the world of business. To be successful, companies have to develop products and services that not only address the needs of today, but anticipate the needs of tomorrow. That’s why futurecasting is so important.

While no one can see the future, we can model and rehearse potential futures, which is what futurecasting is all about. This essential tool for design innovation and business strategy helps us imagine what the future might be so we can create a long-term vision and make it a reality.

Using techniques adapted from the military, global corporations and top design schools, this course will help you map out the best- and worst-case scenarios of the future and prepare for them.

Learn more about Futurecasting for Product Innovation>>

Asking Out Loud @ Cannes Lions

Last week I was with colleagues from The New School Open Campus at Cannes Lions in France. We recorded a live podcast there called “Asking Out Loud.” I appeared in episode 3 to talk about design thinking and the creative process.

In Cannes Lions’ newest podcast series, academics, industry experts and visionary creative spirits unpack questions that make creative minds tick.

Collaboration brings visions to life and teaches us how to work with others to reach a common goal. This powerful process pollinates the world with more creativity while teaching skills of focus, cooperation, innovation, and compromise.

A dynamic podcast panel explore and discuss common challenges to productive teamwork and cover best practices for helping you and your teams to accomplish what may otherwise seem impossible.

This podcast is hosted by The New School’s Open Campus, and produced in partnership with Somethin’ Else.

Check out all five episodes of “Asking Out Loud” below:

I also shared some of my personal highlights from Cannes Lions on Medium.

Innovation Dynamics: Quick-Start Guide + Online Course

Foossa’s recent design collaboration with GreenHouse is now available on Amazon. Shout out to SVA Design for Social Innovation grads Martha Berry and Anna Luiza Braga for the additional design support.

How does NASA get its mojo back? What do big cities do with selfish billionaires? What’s wrong with art education? How are inner city youth the answer to urban renewal? What does the military have to do with the arts?

Innovation Dynamics is the first systematic approach to real social innovation and solving people-problems. Purchase includes a beautifully-designed, printed quick-start guide and 90-days of online access to The Short Course on Innovation Dynamics at The Academy for Social Change. The online course includes brief, animated instructional videos and an interactive workbook that can be printed for collaboration in teams. Buyers receive one unique access code to the online course with each printed guide.

The quick-start guide and multimedia introduction were developed by founders of GreenHouse, Insight Labs and UX for Good and innovators in residence at the University of Southern California. It emerged from years of work in the U.S., Europe and Africa with organizations like the U.S. State Department, NASA, Harvard Medical School, Starbucks, the Dalai Lama Center and the TED Conferences.

Users will learn how to:

  • Break problems down into their most essential parts
  • Reconcile various stories behind problems
  • Uncover hidden relationships among problems
  • See invisible rules that guide relationships and social systems
  • Leverage expectations to solve problems
  • Engineer deviance to disrupt the invisible rules

Innovation Dynamics was developed in consultation with social scientists and is a core element of the first-ever doctorate in social innovation.