Archive for the ‘practice’ Category

Katrine Rau and Katrina Alcorn from GE Energy gave a talk on how GE is developing the Internet of Things. They started with several familiar household examples but pointed out that the internet can also connect on an industrial scale to things like windmills or jet engines or gas turbines. They call this the Industrial Internet (or the internet of big things).

The devices are consumer, commercial and industrial. Billions of devices. 30 to 90 billion dollar value. Intelligent machines, or dumb machines with new sensors. Plus software and analytics. Finally, people at work use these analytics.

This is a hard problem. 90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone. For example, two million miles of oil transmission pipelines. Half were installed prior 1970. Important to maintain this infrastructure, but every 30,000 miles of pipeline generates 17 terabytes of data per day when instrumented.

How do you glean insights from the data without overwhelming? How can we anticipate what people might need? There are also performance issues: sometimes it takes 24 hours to crunch the numbers.

The industrial internet stakeholders have very specialized jobs. You have to work with hard-to-reach users. You can’t just guess what they need. Research is crucial.

The technology is also really new. The unknown can be scary. Data security. May require new ways of working. GE Energy uses co-creation to bring together diverse stakeholders to overcome some of these issues. This is most useful when the solutions are not clearly defined and the stakeholders aren’t yet in alignment.

Co-creation helps to:

  • Ensure we’re addressing the right problem
  • Clearly define solution and desired outcome
  • Create trust with our customers
  • Engage stakeholders in decisions
  • speed up the sales process
  • Reach solution faster
  • Avoid costly changes to code later on

Co-creation empowers stakeholders to be designers. At GE Energy they’ve identified five principles to share from their work:

Place design at the leadership level. Don’t fight against the company language and existing organization. Whoever controls the language controls the debate. Whoever translates the language can bring people to a common solution.

Practice “co-creation” just like an engineering best practice. Utilize a “federated facilitation” model that benefits internet and external teams. Spread this message through brown bag sessions that evangelize the culture of co-creation.

Sustain relationships that make things happen. Invite yourself to meetings. Remember that “people issues” are “design challenges.” Shape relationships during the pre-project.

Demystify empathy and make it practical for anyone. UX begins with the needs of the people who will use the product. Bring new people into the research and let them listen in to learn about stakeholder problems.

Help every touchpoint, without exception, to be better by design. Make realistic plans for integration design earlier and in more places.

Five takeaways:

  1. Add co-creation methods to your toolkit. Break out of your silos.
  2. Start co-creation before the project is defined. Designing the brief.
  3. Make friends with developers and data experts.
  4. Take your helicopter crash course (do your homework for research).
  5. Plant seeds in your organization.

Anders Frostenson from Doberman stepped in at the last minute for a substitute presentation on the development of their NYC studio, focused on digital products, service design and innovation capability.

He shared a story about the founding of their NYC studio four years ago. Transplanting a new studio was all about prototyping. They took established methods from their Stockholm studio to develop their new office. They created a three year business plan for expanding to New York, assembled collaboratively on white paper with post-it notes. All 60 people in Stockholm were activated to be part of the decision.

He also shared an example focused on NYC citizen-driven innovation. It involved radical collaboration, innovation tools, guided research and experience prototyping.

Finally, he observed that capacity building is about sharing design culture. Not just tools or methods.

Danielle and Margaret from TACSI, the Australian Center for Social Innovation, spoke about their work with the Family-by-Family program.

Their presentation focused on the child protection system in Australia, which they described as a crisis with 125,000 reports and 64K at risk of serious harm. They asserted that radical change was necessary. In their view, child protection hasn’t failed because of individuals, it’s failed because it’s the wrong system.

Family-by-family worked with 100 families interfacing with the child welfare system and engaged in a co-creation process. Sharing families vs seeking families vs family coach. The organization seeks to save $7 for every dollar spent. They prototyped this system over 14 weeks of iteration.

They identified four key design elements:

  1. Families as change makers
  2. The family coach
  3. Brand is less bureaucratic
  4. Evaluation iPad app

A longitudinal study evaluated the families to find that the participants stayed in contact after their initial engagement. This helped to reduce the incidence of social isolation across the community.

Farhad Attaie from Hellosmile started with a question. What’s the one thing that brings you happiness?

He showed a video from the Design to Move project by Nike (after a brief technical crash of Parson’s infrastructure). It showed children speculating on what they might do if they could live an extra five years.

This was an introduction to the idea that the current generation of children are suffering from preventable chronic diseases and are on a path to live sicker, shorter lives than their parents. One in three children are born into poverty in New York City. They live in what he called “diseased environments” saturated in advertisements for junk food. Cavities, diabetes, obesity are problems at unprecedented rates.

First, they created a non-profit. Democratizing of design and technology, collaboration. Many students have done their thesis work through this organization.

Empowering Changemakers:
Start with three questions:
1. Are you passionate about your own health and happiness.
2. Are you committed to constant and never-ending growth?
3. Do you believe that a small group of committed citizens can change their community?

Hellosmile built a website with a nomination process for “you are totally awesome.” People were initiating new behaviors according to these expectations.

Engaging Children and Families:
The healthcare experience in the Bronx and Brooklyn is inconvenient. It’s a disease model of healthcare built on triage. Instead, they’re trying to build a preventative care business model. 70% preventative vs 30% invasive treatment.

Connecting Communities:
Physical spaces and innovative clinics. Super Sprowtz storytelling through puppets. The ice-cream truck model of salad bar consumption.

The documentary Fed Up follows some of these same themes, focused more on the problem than the solution. It’s worth looking up on Netflix.

Marnie Meylor from the Mayo Clinic Center for Innovation spoke on re-imagining the prenatal care experience through service design to focus more on wellness. She was a service designer on the OB Nest Project, designed to de-medicalized the prenatal experience and focus more on wellness.

Her team launched 14 experiments within the practice. They were built around simple technologies that could be implemented quickly to build acceptance from stakeholders.

During pregnancy there are a spectrum of questions that range from curiosity to concern. Some things you research on your own, some you save for your next appointment and some you call in to find an answer immediately.

Unfortunately, the infrastructure of (appointment coordinator, nurse call room) was seen as a barrier rather than a support system. The care navigation was visible to the patient via the phone line. They had to repeat information at each touchpoint.

At Mayo there were structured visits, but no perception of continuity or connection to the OB between visits.

The original pregnancy model was designed around the medical needs of the mother rather than the emotional support for pregnancy. This system was completely inflexible.

There’s a gravitational pull back to the clinic. How do you shift the clinic’s culture from “sick care” to wellness care? De-centralize the Mayo-OB and re-centralize on the Mom. Increase connectedness. Created a new model in collaboration with the care team.

Build transparency around the rhythm of care. Prescheduled visits. Set expectations about the rhythm of care throughout pregnancy. Secure messaging, OB Phone line, online care community, self-monitoring. It’s important not to over-medicalize the process but it also helped to build confidence.

Support communication across the entire spectrum of pregnancy related questions and introduce that support earlier in the interaction and across multiple pregnancies.

This also helps to shift expectations of medical care in other domains.


The presenters from this morning’s sessions regrouped for a brief panel discussion. I’ll post an MP3 of the session later if you’d like to follow along.

Denis Weil closed out the 2014 conference in Stockholm with some reflections on the emerging frontiers of design. Formerly an innovation executive at McDonalds, his perspective is that Human Centered Design and Design Thinking are each showing their age (20 years and 10 years, respectively) and that designers are becoming complacent by following these paths. He identified Social Design and Venture Capital Design as the new vanguard.

Social design has certainly established its relevance. Denis spoke about the affinity between social design, service design and public sector design and the book Design Transitions offers a contemporary overview of these developments but if 10 years qualifies as long-in-the-tooth then social design is hardly the vanguard. Ezio Manzini has been writing about social innovation and design since the early nineties with a focus on sustainability. A more direct precursor is the work of Participle in the UK and the RED group from the Design Council in 2004.

I believe that Denis makes a better case for currency when it comes to Venture Capital Design. It certainly caught my attention when John Maeda left the world of academia last year to join Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers in Silicon Valley. Denis sketched a few examples of startups that exemplify this model such as Airbnb, Jawbone and Nest but the idea of a community of practice centered around this niche strikes me as fairly tenuous.

Throughout his talk Denis identified the qualities of a new breed of designer and a new model of collaboration. Phrases like “radical empathy” and “outspoken risk takers” stood out to me. He emphasized that these new areas of design require sacrifice and that the patterns are still emerging. He ended by quoting Allan Chochinov from the School of Visual Arts who observed that design has been moving from the aesthetic to the strategic to the participatory. Both the design and content of the Stockholm conference reflect that shift.

I would have liked to see more of an argument about why Denis felt that HCD and Design Thinking had lost relevance and how he sees our ecosystem changing in light of the new frontiers he described. But maybe that’s a question for the next conference.

The presentation by Wim Rampen focused on his journey through the world of customer experience and service design. Wim started blogging shortly after I launched Design for Service and I remember following some of that initial journey. He spoke about how chance, luck and the unexpected all influence change and how change is hardly ever consciously designed.

To cope with the impact of change he recommended five strategies centered around recognizing the potential for positive and negative change and preparing for these disruptions in advance by building a diverse base of knowledge. It’s important to embrace potential opportunities rather than dismissing them as a hazard.

Note: If you’re following along with your schedule, Wim was originally slated to present yesterday. Things got shuffled around a little through some last minute changes, thus reinforcing the theme of Wim’s presentation.

Malin Orebäck is the Director of Design Strategy at Veryday. She closed out the first day of the conference in Stockholm with a presentation on services that aim to create a “full circle of winners” rather than taking a zero-sum approach. Her overviews focused on Pollution, Criminality, Education and Hunger with each service identifying a way to build solutions for all stakeholders rather than creating winners and losers. The focus on what she calls “the big challenges” resonated with Kigge Mal Hvid’s plea earlier in the day to address systemic problems.

Malin’s talk was primarily an inspirational collection of vignettes but it also included some high-level guidelines for identifying these types of opportunities. She ended with the observation that “if you don’t look for win-win scenarios you’ll only see trade-offs.”

For the past several months I’ve been researching co-design practices around the world. Participatory methods don’t have much of a track record in the United States apart from the work of Liz Sanders at MakeTools. I’m interested in understanding the circumstances behind that gap.

There are plenty of good examples of co-design overseas so I’ve been reaching out to contacts in the UK, Australia and New Zealand for brief interviews about designing with groups and incorporating non-designers into the design process. Aside from the crazy logistics of interviewing people with a 19 hour time offset things are going well. I’ve spoken with designers from consultancies as well as within industry. My focus has been less on the “how” and more on the “why.” I’m exploring the culture surrounding participatory design as a first step in understanding how to catalyze those processes closer to home.

If you’re wrangling with co-design methods in your own organization I’d love to hear about your perspective. This could be as part of a design consultancy, an internal design team or as a component of design education. My interviews have been directed overseas for the most part but if you’ve found a pocket of co-design stateside then I’d definitely like to get in touch.