Now go be awesome! “Do Good” Design

Now is the opportunity for designers to use the power of design, not just to improve lifestyles but also to practice design in a way that balances social and environmental interests.

Advertising Design - the phoniest of ten all
Advertising Design – the phoniest of them all

From an excellent post by Brian Ling suggesting design freedom + designer responsibility. He makes a strong point with the following from Victor Papanek’s Design For The Real World

There are professions more harmful than industrial design, but only a very few of them. And possibly only one profession is phonier. Advertising design, in persuading people to buy things they don’t need, with money they don’t have, in order to impress others who don’t care, is probably the phoniest field in existence today. Industrial design, by concocting the tawdry idiocies hawked by advertisers, comes a close second. Never before in history have grown men sat down and seriously designed electric hairbrushes, rhinestone-covered file boxes, and mink carpeting for bathrooms, and then drawn up elaborate plans to make and sell these gadgets to millions of people. Before (in the ‘good old days’), if a person liked killing people, he had to become a general, purchase a coal-mine, or else study nuclear physics. Today, industrial design has put murder on a mass-production basis. By designing criminally unsafe automobiles that kill or maim nearly one million people around the world each year, by creating whole new species of permanent garbage to clutter up the landscape, and by choosing materials and processes that pollute the air we breathe, designers have become a dangerous breed. And the skills needed in these activities are taught carefully to young people.

In an age of mass production when everything must be planned and designed, design has become the most powerful tool with which man shapes his tools and environments (and, by extension, society and himself). This demands high social and moral responsibility from the designer. It also demands greater understanding of the people by those who practise design and more insight into the design process by the public.

via Nimble Design Firms should Do Good | Design Sojourn.

Continue reading “Now go be awesome! “Do Good” Design”

Becoming Rich by Designing for the Poor

(This essay was first published on Egology – The Ideafarms Blog on December 12, 2013)

Last year, Amit Gulati, who runs Incubis Consultants, invited me to participate in an interactive session to think through design ideas for a low-cost washing machine. The workshop brought out some very interesting and fascinating ways of seeing’ that completely overturned the engineering / tech / product way of approaching design problems. Did we need to redesign the washing machine (Product) under stricter constraints [this is the way most people think – start with an existing product, strip it of features, use cheaper materials and processes, reduce quality and make it low-cost], or did we need to go up a level and reframe the problem itself.

Orbits of Influence

Image Courtesy: Incubis Consultants, 2013.

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In the old days — as recently as the dying years of the last century — technology was trying to keep up with our needs. But instead of playing catch up, its pace overtook our needs. In the end, technology, especially those products that were powered by the silicon chip, won the race. Today we have more technology than we need and yet, rather than using what already exists to solve societal problems, we still go after creating more and more technology for the narrowest part of the pyramid – the top. Continue reading “Becoming Rich by Designing for the Poor”

Book Review: 8 Steps to Innovation, Going from Jugaad to Excellence

8 Steps to Innovation: Going from Jugaad to Excellence
Vinay Dabholkar & Rishikesha T. Krishnan

I have a confession to make. The cover led me to believe that this was another one of those innovation cookbooks by two opportunistic wannabe Jugaad aficionados (I still have a huge problem with the cover design in that it is trying hard to impress while succeeding to do just the opposite). The first chapter could only reinforce my belief that here was another version of the many ‘product improvement through R&D is innovation’ treatises that are strewn about ever since innovation became a fashion label. Am I glad that I persisted, if only to collect enough ammunition to tear it to shreds. Surprise, surprise! The book is not only an easy read but is a good resource for organizations that want to understand how to carry out innovation.

The authors give out two clear messages –

(1) that everybody can innovate,

(2) innovation success is less about isolated creative sparks than a concerted approach both to motivate the elephant (incentive) and direct the driver (clarity).

Help yourself to Innovation
Help yourself to Innovation

Continue reading “Book Review: 8 Steps to Innovation, Going from Jugaad to Excellence”

Creating Heart Capital

This post was first published in January 2009 but has gained renewed relevance in today’s crisis ridden world. It reminds us that too much focus on quantitative metrics can go only one way viz. downwards. (Incidentally, Knowledgeboard has since shut down.)

–Sunil Malhotra

 When I coined the phrase “Heart Capital” a few years ago, I didn’t recognise it’s prophetic undertones. And for those who might want to read my article, here’s the pdf Heart Capital.

The ideas and views regain relevance with today’s ‘communities’ on the collaborative web. (2.0)

Here’s John Moore’s comment on the article I wrote in 2003.

“I love these lines in particular :

To humanise is to recognise that technology cannot replace the charm of personal contact. To humanise is to disrupt current business thinking and methods. To humanise is to add emotion. To humanise is to add fun to work and work systems.

I think the discussion about emotional environment is important; a lot of money goes into trying to create great physical spaces for work (and that’s no bad thing) but the manners and subleties of human contact deserve equal attention.

I would add that as well as being fun, the creation of real “heart capital” requires taking risks and being vulnerable. Acknowledging our true feelings feels risky in many enviroments; yet in my experience it is often a touchstone for deeper and more satisfying human engagement.”

Thanks John! Continue reading “Creating Heart Capital”

Smart Connections 101 – Shopping, DealChaat and Locality

So here’s the question Tom Koulopoulos is addressing in this brilliant futuristic take on DealChaat, ‘Have I got a deal for you!‘.

(Tom has been named one of the industry’s most influential consultants by InformationWeek magazine. Geoff James of CBS Interactive Media called Tom, “one of the truly deep thinkers in the arena of technology and culture. ” Forbes.com named Tom one of its Business Visionaries with, “an incisive view of world trade…”)

Locality is important.

The bottom line is that inefficient markets tend to put control in the hands of the seller and not the consumer. An efficient market balances the scales. It gives me the best deal as a consumer and also allows sellers to appeal to me directly at the precise moment of need.

Giving control directly to consumers at the moment they’ve decided to buy and on location is not the no-brainer it seems to be. Very few seem to ‘get’ the value it could bring. Not Tom. He goes,

The greatest impact of the Internet has been the evolution of community. We are more connected than ever to the people, places, ideas and things that we want to be part of our lives.

However, this digital connectivity has been slow to find its way into our analog lives. A prime example is the huge disconnect between online shopping and the traditional store-based experience. Although we see the two as being in conflict, the realty is that what’s missing is the connection between the two.

In this age of location-aware smartphones, DealChaat is one platform for creating frictionless markets. Thanks Tom, for your insightful analysis … DealChaat sure has some catching up to do with your visionary thinking. :-)

As apps like DealChaat become pervasive we will be lubricating the wheels of consumerism in ways that will become as indispensable to us in the 21st Century as the Sears Catalog was at the turn of the 20th Century.

And besides, who doesn’t love a deal :-)

Read the brilliant post on Tom’s blog ‘Have I got a deal for you!

innerpage_shoppers1

Check it out. You may want to be associated … write on the blog, help with design, technology, be a critic, join the crack team … let me know.

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Talk to us.

Also interesting in the above context are the following trends for 2013