I recently shared the story of my professional journey and some thoughts about design and storytelling with Anne-Laure Fayard, Associate Professor of Innovation, Design, and Organizational Studies at New York University’s Tandon School of Engineering, faculty advisor to the NYU Chapter of Design for America, and host of the Design Thinking Roundtable podcast.
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:
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#DESIGNFUTURENOW PODCAST ðŸŽ™ How is design changing as a discipline and profession? And how do we face these challenges and opportunities as a community? We explore these questions and more on @AIGAdesign’s new podcast, Design Future Now. Hosted by @leesean. Listen now â€” link in profile. #AIGADesign #DesignFutureFriday
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.
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 donâ€™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 â€˜mystery of human behavior.â€™
The mystery of human behavior shapes almost every problem worth solving.Thatâ€™s the bad news. But thereâ€™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 â€” each of them shows you a new thing to look for in human behavior.
– The next two steps are about thinking â€” each one is a tool you can use to better understand the human behaviors you have observed.
– The last step is about solving â€” it describes what you can accomplish with your newfound knowledge.â€
About the Design
Foossa’sÂ recent design collaboration with GreenHouse is now available on Amazon.Â 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.
May 11, 2017 marks the 20th anniversary of supercomputer Deep Blueâ€™s victory over world champion chess player Garry Kasparov. Deep Blueâ€™s victory was the first time a computer beat a human chess master in a standard match format.
Technology has advanced dramatically since 1997, Â and so have anxieties about artificial intelligence and the possibility of automated bots taking over human jobs. Some estimate that by 2025, up to 40% of jobs could go to robots. If machines can do our jobs better, what does our future at work look like?
Workers in almost every field will be affected in some way by automation. Machines are better than humans at repetitive, brute force tasks, and can now even beat humans in well-defined games like chess and Go. They could replace workers in service industries and administrative positions, and even have some management capabilities. But for innovators who are tasked with problem solving and imagining the future, human curiosity and playfulness will always have the advantage.
Take this recent scene at a Fortune 500 company where I worked.Â Senior level executives gathered on the floor of a cleared out conference room like preschoolers at recess. Recycled cardboard boxes, colorful shards of construction paper, gnarled pipe-cleaners, scented markers, and hot glue were peppered around the room. The participants huddled with their teammates around their prototypes and put the pieces in place, building thoughtfully as they work together.
In the non-profit and public sector, Â design thinkingâ€”which often looks like structured, open-ended playâ€”has become a popular vehicle for creative problem solving and innovation.
Major corporations like Procter & Gamble have used design thinking to create new product lines that have turned around struggling brands like Mr. Clean. Design thinking is no longer considered just a marketing tool. The United Nations has also used it to redesign informal sustainable development settlements, like remaking a football pitch in Kenya. Design thinking is now taught in places like the business school at Cornell, and it even has its own department at Stanford. It allows for real-time improvisation and engagement that makes things work.
In the real-life training session I described, an internal knowledge management software project was running late and over-budget. It was not clear if the work in progress really addressed the needs of the employees who would be using the tool.
The executives hit â€œpauseâ€ and â€œresetâ€ on the project. They started from the beginning, using empathy as a tool. Through interviews and observations, they tried to understand their colleaguesâ€™ knowledge management needs. From there, they formulated a problem statement, reframing the original problem as needed.