What do doctors have to do with Design Thinking?

Ever wonder how a good doctor is able to focus on the one or two possibilities even without the help of diagnostics? Now go try teaching hospital administrators the trick.

Good designers are just like good doctors.

They find great alternatives, not necessarily by processing information (codified) like a computer does, but by an invisible skill — Design Thinking. Malcolm Gladwell explains the phenomenon in his book Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking (2005) [I’m not saying I agree with everything in the book … but nevertheless].

The example of Kenna, a musician who is loved by critics for his eclectic style but fails to get a record deal because his music does not test well in marketing surveys, is instructive, as it illustrates how the “thin-slicing” of experts differs markedly from the mass market. Other examples in this chapter include the failure of “New Coke” in the 1980s, when Coca-Cola attempted to improve sales by making a version of Coke that tasted more like Pepsi because blind taste test results favored Pepsi, as well as an office chair that did not test well in marketing surveys but that turned out to be a best-seller. In this chapter, Gladwell highlights how expert thin-slicing is especially valuable and considerably more accurate in judging worth than the mass market or the novice, concluding that what turns out to be a successful product might be more accurately judged by the people who are experts in that field.

Design Thinking is not just a series of steps to carry out mindlessly. Forget the process and tools for a moment and focus on understanding the user first. While doing so, use every bit of your past experience and knowledge in designing products and services that have the potential to enrich end-user experience.

Trust your gut, don’t just hand over that part to Design Thinking or any other “tool”. Good luck!

Image: https://in.pinterest.com/source/cope-yp.blogspot.com/

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Farewell Web 2.0?

The sheen of Web 2.0 is fading. People have laid their claim on the next ‘version’ – 3.0. See how our thinking is so linear. Why are we forcing ourselves to believe, and in retrospect, that there was something called Web 1.0! Isn’t that how versioning happens?

I’d rather have called it Web-as-a-Platform (WaaP) because that’s really what it is.

My reasoning is simply that by ‘componentising’ the Web we have created –

  1. a way for individuals and groups to ‘talk’ to the world and to each other in ‘open spaces’;
  2. collaborative software to capture, exchange and share collective ideas and ideologies;
  3. a philosophy where people can improve upon – or add value – to other people’s efforts; and
  4. less dependence on technology ‘consultants’.

What I have yet not been able to see is the ‘meta’ part of the phenomenon. Call it Web-as-a-Vehicle (WaaV) – likened to a mass transportation system and not a car. I might call it Meta-more-for-less (sounds like metamorphosis). We need a hard look quickly at how to design the interfaces (if they do exist) between the existing technology components or we run the risk of building yet another set of ‘silos’ made up of existing Web 2.0 pieces. Which in simple terms means bridging the “gap in capability” between the ‘individual’ creating the content and the techie who built the component.

Google’s Chief economist, Hal Varian, says executives in wired organisations need a sharper understanding of how technology empowers innovation, here.

… the kinds of innovations I think will arise on top of that will be innovations in how work is done. And that’s going to be one of the most exciting aspects, in my opinion.

That’s the key here. How work is done must supersede how things work.

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Incredible mobile VAS – 75paise per voice sms

Following up on my previous post about Negative Value Innovation, here is a graphical description of someone trying to use the so-called Value Added Service of leaving a voice SMS when a called party is unavailable.

Imagine the possible scenarios when the VAS takes you by surprise and asks for you to dial the TEN-DIGIT-NUMBER,

Either …
I. hang up, then …
Step 1. Get hold of a pen and a piece of paper,
Step 2. Go through phone book,
Step 3. Note down the TEN-DIGIT-NUMBER, (remember you located the person by his/her name when you called the first time. Now you need the TEN-DIGIT-NUMBER!)
Step 4. Hit last call dialled and be ready to read and dial the number when asked.

I suspect if the called party has hung up while you’re busy with the steps above, you’ll never get to using the fruits of your labour and will be pissed. But if you’re lucky that s/he is still on a call, you’d have a chance to use this ‘friendly neighborhood’ VAS.

Unless you’re an octopus here’s my second visualisation . . .

II. Without hanging up … have your phone tucked between ear and shoulder while you dig into your pocket for a scrap of paper, hurriedly get hold of a pen … then figure where to keep these while you take your phone off your ear and try to access your phone book, scroll down to the contact and note the number, 3 digits at a time while repeating the above subsequence. I wouldn’t be surprised that the IVR hangs up while you’re busy multitasking.

Discalimer: If it was your sweetheart you were calling and you already knew her number by heart! (Pun Intended), you’d be able to use the service like a breeze.

What say to calling this a Value Diminished Nuisance (VDN) instead!!

The VALUE of Negative Innovation 101

This morning’s HT Business piece “Can India become the Coca Cola of the BPO sector” by my friend N. Madhavan, (twitter: @madversity) shows how India is steadily cornering the ‘back-office’ business. His article got me thinking about whether this has happened by design or is the kind of happy accident that made India an IT superpower by the Y2K paranoia of the west. Here’s why.

The Indian service industry is fast mastering the art of Negative Innovation. When they try to add value they end up becoming a nuisance.

Negative Innovation Case #1: 0.75p for Voice SMS, Value Added Service (VAS) –  Airtel.
I scroll down my list of contacts and call N. Madhavan. Maddy’s on another call so this ‘friendly’ VAS kicks in telling me I can leave a voice sms for him. Easy! So what does it ask me to do? Without hanging up, I have to dial his TEN-DIGIT-NUMBER followed by STAR or HASH (I don’t remember which) and VOILA!!! . . . I can leave a voice sms for him. #Fail. I was telling someone the other day that if Airtel could show me ONE . . . O N E person who had ever used the service, I’d eat my words now and forever more. VALUE for whom? Continue reading “The VALUE of Negative Innovation 101”

Labels, labels, labels – adjectivizing the world.

Labels have always had a place – behind the collar and on cartons. That’s where they belong and that’s where they ought to stay. Make fashion statements out of them and we’re heading for big trouble. Because labels have a way of sticking beyond their life. Would you still call India “Third” world? See, the label just won’t go away.

Example #1 – Hybrid Design.

As though we don’t already have enough confusion around understanding “Design” – designers and non-designers both – our propensity for labels is adding clutter to the chaos. This recent Fastcompany article “Beyond Design Thinking: Why Hybrid Design is the Next New Thing” thrives in the romanticism of stating the obvious.

From the post … {an attempt to enlighten that fails to impress} Continue reading “Labels, labels, labels – adjectivizing the world.”