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Putting People First

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Search results for 'macdonald'
10 June 2012

Manifesto for design upholding human talents and innovation

bigpotatoes

This morning I got an invite in the mail to attend a London design symposium at Brunel University next week (16 June) that will debate the core themes of a new design manifesto, strangely called “Big Potatoes”

Although I cannot attend the debates at such short notice, the manifesto itself and the themes of the debate are intriguing enough to merit this blog post.

The manifesto is written by six authors – Nico Macdonald, Alan Patrick, Martyn Perks, Mitchell Sava, James Woudhuysen and Norman Lewis. Unfortunately it is not so clear what the manifesto actually says – it will be officially presented at the London Symposium – but you get some background by looking at the fourteen principles who are explored in depth on the Big Potatoes website:

01: Think big
02: The post-war legacy
03: Principles not models
04: For useless research
05: Hard work
06: Expect failures
07: Chance and surprise
08: Take risks
09: Leadership
10: Whose responsibility?
11: Trust the people
12: Think/Act Global
13: We know no limits
14: For humanity

The debate on 16 June is quite provocative as well:

DEBATE#1: UPHOLDING HUMANISM – OR CENTERING ON USERS?
Design is intimately bound up with understanding people. Every designer extols the virtues of getting to know customers, users, people. However, can being too close to your subject stifle creativity? Today this question has added relevance and is at the heart of our manifesto. As at no other time, the collective and individual will of human beings is felt to be little rival to the capricious actions of Fate.

The human ability to take a conscious risk, in the pursuit of innovation, used to be the fundamental premise of design. But now designers join with other cynics in agreeing that people are for the most part driven by nature, neurology, ostentation and irrationality. That can only degrade the processes and the products of design.

The old discussion was about people as market segments with latent needs – people who were held to be in a ‘relationship’ with product or service providers. More and more, however, the rhetoric today consists of how design can work to minimise demand, redirect consumption, and even improve patterns of human behaviour.

Is it the role of design to understand and change people’s behaviour, or is design about producing ideas that allow people to make their own minds up on how they choose to use it? Likewise, should design strive to exceed expectations by going beyond people’s immediate needs, or must it be mindful of how people might use stuff, encouraging greater responsibility and awareness to ourselves and even the planet? And even where people do adapt existing things to better suit their needs – should we celebrate such amateurism, or instead prefer the expertise designers can bring, expertise that can raise people’s horizons further still?

DEBATE#2: DOES DESIGN DRIVE ECONOMIC GROWTH?
What is design’s contribution to economic growth? This question has for a long time been intimately bound up with discussions about design’s purpose — even more so since New Labour sought to trumpet the contribution made by the so-called ‘creative industries’ to UK plc. Because of the credit crunch, the precise effects that design has on wealth creation have become more pertinent than ever. Both the state and many design industry professionals feel that design needs to justify its contribution.

Economic growth is a key issue for our manifesto, not least because designers have been poor at theorising their relationship with innovation. In our view, design could do more to promote and implement scientific and technological advance. At the moment design often fails to grasp the opportunity presented by innovation – by being too focused on surface, incremental improvements. That can mean it ends up being marginalised as a result.

The problem with design and growth runs much deeper than rates of remuneration, royalties, intellectual property and all the rest. It is impossible to put a value on design without clarifying and improving the role designers play with regard to innovation. Can designers, by themselves, stimulate economic growth by creating new demand through the design of new products and services? Or are such products and services best realised when designers link up closely with scientific and technological innovation? Conversely, is design’s real role less about creating new growth per se, and more about persuading people to consume more through marketing and branding existing products and services?

So you get the gist: this event has a very strong political and pro-growth agenda, while some of the debate descriptions are laced with value judgments (“capricious actions of Fate”, “designers join with other cynics”, “degrade the process and products of design”, “amateurism”, etc.)

A little searching online confirms this first impression, but also adds complexity to it all:

Powerbase, the online wiki-style “guide to networks of power, lobbying, public relations and the communications activities of governments and other interests”, says that the manifesto is associated with the “libertarian anti-environmental LM network” (with LM standing for “Living Marxism”), which itself is an offspring of the RCP (the UK’s Revolutionary Communist Party, disbanded in 1996).

Steven Rose has been exploring the LM Network and writes briefly about it on Spinwatch, “an independent non-profit making UK organisation which monitors the role of public relations and spin in contemporary society”:

“Spinwatch has monitored the groups that have flowed from the RCP, groups we collectively term the ‘LM network’. Moving from an ultra-left position through to a libertarian pro-corporate line of argument, they have been, as Rose notes, strong defenders of what they call ‘scientific progress’, meaning that they have been strongly in favour of GM technology and other scientific advances favoured by transnational corporations. However, they have also taken a strong line against scientific progress in the area of risk. So they are opposed to the scientific consensus on climate change, on harms caused by tobacco and by the food and advertising industries.

The common denominator there is that this kind of scientific progress is against the interests of key corporate sectors. Spinwatch has also recently reported on how their traditional ‘anti-Imperialist’ position on colonial struggles has degenerated into a position that attacks those offering solidarity to the Palestinian people. Overall, what we see from the very earliest days of the RCT to the antics of the various tentacles of the LM network now, is consistent in the sense that it involves attacking the left and progressive movements. However, the increasingly close relationship between the LM network and corporate lobby groups and neoliberal and neoconservative think tanks, suggests that it might be more accurate to see them not as libertarian iconoclasts, but simply as another faction of the British conservative movement.”

I am not convinced that the above politicising of the design debate is the best way forward. It just makes our discipline another battleground of a wider culture clash, whereas I see design more as a problem solving tool. I also disagree with their deep faith in the power of economic growth, but leave it to brighter minds – like John Thackara and others – to develop this criticism.

UPDATE: John commented here and here.

7 July 2009

Jan-Christoph Zoels at London’s Media Futures Conference

MFC09
Experientia partner Jan-Christoph Zoels was one of the speakers at London’s Media Futures Conference last week, which was themed “beyond broadcast” and explored the future of media.

Willem Boijens (Vodafone) and Jan-Christoph Zoels (Experientia) presented Lifestream, a research project that uses large data sets to uncover meaningful insights for users, revealing connections, patterns and coincidences in our lives.

Programmed and chaired by Nico Macdonald, the conference was set up as a high-level, well-informed, honest and inspiring discussion and debate to help people consider the entire gamut of challenges – and opportunities – faced by the media sector. The day explored key questions such as: What media futures would we like to see? Which ideas are feasible? And, how do we create new revenue models?

Some of the other speakers included Matt Locke (Channel 4), Fabio Sergio (frog design), and Bill Thompson.

As far as I could find out, no videos are as yet available.

23 June 2009

Towards social business design

Social business design
Social business design is a new concept that could potentially become quite important for businesses and corporations:

In “From Social Media To Social Business Design, David Armano explores what businesses would be like if they were truly social.

“Imagine if a company like GM, was at the core “social”. Not just participating in “social media”—but through every part of their business ecosystem, were connected—plugged into a collective consciousness made up of ALL their constituents, from employees to consumers to dealers, to assembly line works etc. What if big organizations worked the way individuals now do. We’re actively using cloud services, mobile, networks and applications that offer real time dynamic signals vs. inefficient and static e-mail exchanges. In short, imagine if what makes “Web.2.0″ revolutionary was applied to every facet of an organization transforming how we work, collaborate and communicate? We think this is possible. And we’re calling it “social business design“.”

Armano’s company Dachis Corp. is currently working on rolling out a set of offerings to help businesses understand and apply these constructs to achieve leveraged and emergent outcomes that are measurable.

Bruce Nussbaum loves it.

” This is one of the most important attempts to answer the key question of What Comes Next? What comes next after the great recession ends? What will be the New Normal for consumers, for businesses, for all global organizations.

In essence, David argues that it is not sufficient for companies to merely plug into and participate in the social media of its customers. Companies must BECOME social media and be organized as social media.”

Meanwhile Jevon MacDonald of the same corporation is giving the idea a bit more grounding on his own blog and the Fast Forward blog. Read his contributions:

Understanding the role of Enterprise 2.0 and moving towards a Social Business
In the last few years the concept of social software in the enterprise has matured significantly, but we are still grasping for a real understanding of its role, and what to call it. I believe that understanding the separation of social software and social strategies can bring us closer to seeing the complete picture.

Taking the leap: Social Business Design
Social Business Design is the first (as far as I can tell) effort to completely unite both the strategic and implementation components of a new kind of business. Social Businesses are those which are designed from top to bottom as a reflection of the world we all live in online today. A business were everyone is connected and able to contribute but also where the right tools are available to them to do all of this with a business intent from the beginning.

Social Business Design and the Real Time Enterprise
For the first time we are seeing a complete set of ideas emerge which are applicable on both a strategic and implementation level. The four major archetypes of Social Business Design can be integrated to move past simple data interchange and in to a world of work in which end-users are in control and through which they can collaborate in real time. Without this framework it was easy to miss the need to develop strong ecosystems and intelligent metafilters in addition to a dynamic signal.

30 November 2007

InterSections 07: a debate on design

Intersections
The UK Design Council sponsored conference InterSections 07 brought together 34 leading thinkers in design to consider how design is evolving and how this is affecting its relationships with other fields.

The conference, held in NewcastleGateshead in October 2007, asked how design is transforming as it adapts to a world in transition. Two days of stimulating and energetic debate considered how designers are adapting to the new landscape by acquiring new know-how.

Audio and transcripts are now online and feature a series of keynote presentations:

as well as panel discussions and breakout sessions:

  • What is the new know-how in service design? (audio | transcript)
    Services have been around for centuries, but Service design has recently become a hot topic. Designers Gillian Crampton-Smith (IUAV), Chris Downs (live|work) and Heather Martin (Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design) outline some examples of good, and bad, service design and discuss what the core skills of service designers are whether traditional designer notions such as craft, beauty and visualisation are still important. Jeremy Myerson (RCA) moderates.
    <  >
  • As designers, are we guilty of killing the planet? (audio | transcript)
    John Thackara (Dott07) will argue that 80 percent of the environmental impact of the products and buildings is determined at the design stage; and the ways we have designed the world force most people to waste stupendous quantities of matter and energy. But for John, playing the blame game is pointless, the best way to redeem ourselves is to become part of the solution.
    <  >
  • Clever by design (audio | transcript)
    Where does design fit into management thinking? What is the role of the designer in the modern economy? Sir George Cox, Design Council Chairman and Dr Andrea Siodmok, head of its Design Knowledge team discuss with chair Jeremy Myerson whether businesses are making more use of design capability and, if so, whether designers have the right skills to talk to business.
    <  >
  • New connections: question time (audio | transcript)
    At the final panel session of Intersections 07, delegates had the chance to put questions to the panel (Peter Saville, Richard Seymour and John Thackara), ranging from the lack of women in design, to the role of designers in creating unnecessary landfill, and how best to reconcile the desire for visionary design with co-creation. This session draws together some of the key themes from the conference.
    <  >
  • Fashion connections (audio | transcript)
    Vicky Richardson, Editor of Blueprint magazine, Ignacio Germade, Design Director of Consumer Experience Design at Motorola, Sarah Maynard, Designer and MD of Maynard Bespoke and Tom Savigar from Future Laboratory discuss the influence of fashion on wider design practice. They argue that fashion is not just about the type of things that designers create, but it can be an approach to design thinking about products, interactions, space and environments.
    <  >
  • Interaction blur (audio | transcript)
    How is interaction design changing and what the drivers behind this? Has it managed to develop the skill sets it needs to deal with the challenges ahead? And how does interaction design overlap with other design disciplines? Andy Altmann from Why Not Associates, Durrell Bishop of Luckybite and Daljit Singh, founder of Digit discuss with chair Nico Macdonald.
    <  >
  • Are design schools the new B-schools? (audio | transcript)
    Business Week has floated the idea that tomorrow’s Business school might be a design school. Jeremy Myerson, from the RCA, Janet Abrams, from the University of Minnesota Design Institute, John Bates, London Business School and Christoph Böninger, formerly of Siemens discuss whether designers can really go head-to-head with the MBAs and whether students would be better equipped for the business world if they were design trained?
    <  >
  • Feedback: Day 1 breakout sessions (audio | transcript)
    Vicky Richardson reported back to delegates on Fashion Connections, the Culture thread of day one’s breakout sessions, and Nico Macdonald told the audience what they had missed if they hadn’t been discussing Interaction blur in the Interactions thread. Chair Jeremy Myerson told delegates all about the Business thread and how the panel had discussed whether D-schools were the new B-schools?
    <  >
  • But is it art? (audio | transcript)
    Can design fill the aesthetic and cultural vacuum left by contemporary art? Where are the boundaries between the two disciplines and is it even useful to try and draw distinctions between them? Designers Allan Chochinov, Peter Saville and Richard Shed are joined by artist and writer Matthew Collings in a discussion about the nature of ‘design art,’ chaired by Vicky Richardson, editor of Blueprint magazine.
    <  >
  • Can good design be co-created? (audio | transcript)
    Can good design be co-created? What can designers learn from the open source software movement and ‘wikinomics’? While everyone is a designer, isn’t it the job of professional designers to champion good design? Writer and journalist Nico Macdonald chairs a discussion with Joe Heapy (Engine), Lynne Maher (NHS) and Austin Williams (Future Cities Project) about the possibilities and pitfalls of co-design.
    <  >
  • What can design bring to strategy? (audio | transcript)
    Design strategy is a growing sub-discipline of design. This session, chaired by conference director Kevin McCullagh, asked what strengths designers bring to strategy building and what new skills they might need to acquire. The panel, Jonathan Sands from Elmwood, Richard Eisermann from Prospect and Ed Silk from Interbrand, covered the topic with reference to their own wide experience as designers and strategists.
    <  >
  • Feedback: Day 2 breakout sessions (audio | transcript)
    Vicky Richardson“>Vicky Richardson informed delegates who had not attended the Culture thread of the breakout sessions on Is it art? of what they had missed. Nico Macdonald feedback what delegates who had attended the Interactions thread thought about the question of whether good design can be co-created and Kevin McCullagh, who had chaired the Business thread debate on design and strategy, updated the audience on what had been discussed.
4 September 2007

People regularly featured on this blog

In alphabetical order:

A
Marko Ahtisaari
Ken Anderson

B
Nik Baerten
Genevieve Bell
Chris Bernard
Tim Berners-Lee
Ralf Beuker
Nina Boesch
Danah Boyd
Stefana Broadbent
Tyler Brûlé
Bill Buxton

C
Jan Chipchase
Hilary Cottam
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
Alistair Curtis

D
Uday Dandavate
Liz Danzico
Regine Debatty
Paul Dourish

E
Jyri Engeström
Richard Eisermann

G
Jesse James Garrett
Fabien Girardin
Anand Giridharadas
Bruno Giussani
Adam Greenfield

H
Laurent Haug

I
Mizuko Ito

J
Bob Jacobson
Matt Jones

K
Jonathan Kestenbaum
Anne Kirah
Dirk Knemeyer
Jon Kolko
Mike Kuniavsky

L
Loïc Lemeur
Dan Lockton
Victor Lombardi

M
Nico Macdonald
John Maeda
Ranjit Makkuni
Ezio Manzini
Roger Martin
Stefano Marzano
Simona Maschi
Bruce Mau
Grant McCracken
Jess McMullin
Peter Merholz
Crysta Metcalf
Bill Moggridge
Peter Morville
Ulla-Maaria Mutanen

N
Jakob Nielsen
Donald Norman
Nicolas Nova
Bruce Nussbaum

P
Steve Portigal

R
Carlo Ratti
Howard Rheingold
Louis Rosenfeld
Stephen Rustow

S
Dan Saffer
Nathan Shedroff
Jared Spool
Yaniv Steiner
Bruce Sterling

T
John Thackara

V
Marco van Hout
Rob van Kranenburg
Mark Vanderbeeken
Joannes Vandermeulen
Jeffrey Veen
Timo Veikkola
Michele Visciola
Eric von Hippel

W
Tricia Wang
Luke Wroblewski

Z
Paola Zini
Jan-Christoph Zoels

3 July 2007

New Core77 article series more sophisticated than ever

Core77
The Core77 “Reactor” article series is becoming increasingly sophisticated and more and more relevant to the experience design discourse that this blog addresses as well. Check out the latest articles (with my personal preference ever so slightly on the last one):

Riding the Flux by Kevin McCullagh
Kevin McCullagh helps designers navigate the tectonic shifts affecting the design industry.

“The era of product design as practiced by a small band of gurus in Milan, London, Munich and New York is long gone. There are now thousands of competent product designers around the world able to ‘give good form.’ Design as ‘styling’ or ‘form-giving’ has become commoditized, and competing at this level is already a tough low-margin slog. While those hide-bound by the past batten down the hatches, the wise remember that change throws up opportunities as well as challenges.
If we shed the blinkers and see the world differently there are many positive shifts, like the mainstreaming of design in business and the public sector, which offer glimpses of a chance to drastically expand the frontiers of design. A good place to start is by taking a wider view of our know-how.”

Device Art by Carla Diana
Carla Diana brings us up to speed on Device Art, highlights some leading practitioners, and delves into the cross-cultural considerations.

“At the moment, we are seeing an explosion of Device Art activity emerging in Japan, with new artwork appearing in such mainstream channels as electronics catalogs and department stores. In the U.S., however, the Device Art landscape is somewhat bare. One would think that the public’s voracious appetite for gadgets, combined with the creative community’s growing discontent with formulaic, brand-obsessed corporate design would solidly set the stage for this discipline to become a strong cultural force in the U.S., yet it seems relegated to museum boutiques and the back rooms of hipster Japanese toy stores. What gives?”

ID Strategy Conference Review by Nico Macdonald
Nico Macdonald provides a super-detailed review of this year’s Institute of Design Strategy Conference from Chicago, divided up his review into “Reduction,” “Reactions” and “Reflection.”

“Apple and Steve jobs are a great example of not so much user-centered design but CEO-centered design,” quipped Patrick Whitney, Director of the IIT Institute of Design in Chicago. Soft-spoken Whitney was setting up the program for the Institute’s annual Strategy Conference he chairs, which took place this past May, and which has become the key English-speaking forum for discussing and investigating the new relationships emerging between design and business. Formally the Strategy Conference is an ‘international executive forum addressing how businesses can use design to explore emerging opportunities, solve complex problems, and achieve lasting strategic advantage.’ In person, Whitney captures its goal more succinctly and engagingly. It is about ‘Where to play and How to win.’

Design and Poetry by Xanthe Matychak
Xanthe Matychak investigates what designers can learn from poetry, providing some inspiring tricks toward innovation and some real-world examples.

“What I fear about empirical research—research based purely on observation—is that it doesn’t recognize a deep context. So when designers ask questions like, how do we “design a device where incoming communications are noticed 100% of the time?” we are assuming that people need to notice them 100% of the time. We don’t take into account how rapidly changing technologies have constructed consumer preferences for the faster, the smaller, and the newer. And when we make conclusions based simply on observation, we are jumping too quickly to tech-driven answers. If we designers can, instead, open ourselves up beyond research findings to the practice of reflection, then we can ask deeper questions and discover more meaningful, long-term solutions.”

23 January 2007

Innovation and the prosperity of nations [Core77]

Competitiveness Summit '06
“At the recent Competitiveness Summit, the connections between business and innovation were made starkly clear,” writes Nico Macdonald in a Core77 article.

In November 2005 the UK Treasury published the Cox Review of Creativity in Business, addressing “a question that is vital to the UK’s long-term economic success—namely, how to exploit the nation’s creative skills more fully” where the “emphasis is on the use made of creative skills by smaller businesses, with particular concern for manufacturing.”

This December the UK Design Council, of which report author Sir George Cox is Chairman, convened the Competitiveness Summit ’06 in London to brief people on progress with implementation of the report’s recommendations and ‘build momentum’ around it. Specifically the Summit was intended to showcase the role of creativity and design in UK competitiveness, discuss how they may be further embedded, and examine future trends; consider threats and opportunities from abroad; and examine the role of education and its relationship to industry.

The Competitiveness Summit was probably the most serious and eminent design event in the UK in the last five years, though the balance of the audience was from the design and consultancy industries, government policy and funding, and education, rather than the ‘client side’ of the equation.

Some conference participants:

  • Sir Terence Conran
  • Rt. Hon Alistair Darling MP, UK Secretary of State for Trade and Industry
  • Professor David Gann, Principal of Imperial College London’s Tanaka Business School
  • David Godber, Director of Nissan Design Europe
  • Graham Hitchen, Project Director of the Cox-proposed International Centre for Design and Innovation
  • David Kester, Chief Executive of the Design Council
  • Geoff Kirk, Rolls-Royce Chief Design Engineer for Civil Aerospace
  • Professor Stuart MacDonald, Head of the Aberdeen-based Gray’s School of Art
  • Bill Moggridge, co-founder of IDEO
  • Professor Jeremy Myerson, Director of Innovation RCA at the Royal College of Art
  • Bill Sermon, Vice President, Design at Nokia Multimedia
  • John Thackara, Director of Doors of Perception
  • Malcolm Wicks MP, UK Minister of State for Science and Innovation

Macdonald ends with serious critical reflections on the event that are worth a read and a thought.

Read full story [Mirrored in Business Week]

31 December 2006

UK Design Council on user-centred design and experience design

Design Council
The re-designed website of the UK Design Council features a series of new sections, including some on user-centred design and experience design.

User-centred design
The central premise of user-centred design is that the best-designed products and services result from understanding the needs of the people who will use them. User-centred designers engage actively with end-users to gather insights that drive design from the earliest stages of product and service development, right through the design process. Psychologist Alison Black gives an insight into how a user-centred approach can lead to innovative products and services that deliver real consumer benefit.

Experience design
Experience design concentrates on moments of engagement between people and brands, and the memories these moments create. For customers, all these moments of corporate experience combine to shape perceptions, motivate their brand commitment and influence the likelihood of repurchase in the future. Brand experience has the power to engender a greater degree of empathy, trust and loyalty from both customers and employees. Ralph Ardill of the Brand Experience Consultancy gives an overview of how experience design delivers new insights into how brands are perceived.
 
Unfortunately the experience design section is strongly brand-focused and therefore company-centric, rather than people-centric, and the write-up is seriously criticised by Peter Merholz, president of Adaptive Path, in a reaction to this post entitled “Experience design is not about brands“: “For ‘experience design’ to truly succeed as a discipline, it will need to distinguish itself from brand strategy and design, and demonstrate its distinct value as a contributor to business. Unfortunately, the Design Councils attempt at definition simply muddles things further.

Other sections that caught my eye:

  • Roger Coleman explains how inclusive design ensures that goods, services and environments are accessible to more people.
  • The ability of trends research to generate vital insights into customers’ and users’ future needs is making the practice increasingly important for all sectors. Trends expert James Woudhuysen explores the issues
  • The UK services sector is growing, but service design and its management are often poorly planned, argues Bill Hollins. This article reveals how companies can gain competitive advantage by applying design techniques when creating and improving their services.
  • Interaction design is the key skill used in creating an interface through which information technology can be manipulated, writes Nico Macdonald. As products and services are increasingly being created using information technology, interaction design is likely to become the key design skill of this century.
27 September 2005

Games meets interaction design [Usability News]

 
Do games designers need advice from the interaction design community? This was the argument that raged following the formal part of the Interact! Games meets Interaction Design event, an InSync and AIGA Experience Design London collaboration, chaired by Nico Macdonald.

The relationship between the two fields came under scrutiny first from Ben Cerveny, till recently director of experience design at frogdesign, and then from Durrell Bishop, partner in Luckybite and specialist in tangible interfaces.

Read full report

11 August 2005

Better by design [RSA Journal]

Feature_p26design
Design used to be associated purely with aesthetics. Today it has been embraced by business leaders and is advocated for social policy development.

Nico Macdonald (blog) investigates these claims.

Read text-only version
Download laid out version (pdf, 176 kb)

(via CPH127)

18 June 2004

The future of weblogging [The Register]

TheregisterThe rise of weblogging has been a cold shower for the complacent mass communication industries. Although the weblogging pioneers are due much praise, their own rhetoric deserves examination, and they could also raise their sights higher.

Nico Macdonald (blog) reports, and concludes with a radical proposal for the future of weblogging.

Read full story