When we hear the word design, most of us associate design with "well-designed" products or user interfaces. For example, Apple has been known for their well-designed products for decades as are numerous other companies. It is true that design can increase customer willingness to pay and loyalty. But "design" is much more than "well-designed" products or interfaces.
A smaller subset of people that hear the word design, think of "design thinking," which is a perspective taking root in the engineering and entrepreneurship world emphasizing empathy in the design process. Sometimes this framework has been referred to as human-centered design, because it takes the needs of the individual as a starting point for the development of a new product or service. The key to design thinking is to try and understand the real pains or gains your customers are seeking. I like to discuss this in terms of the job to be done, meaning, what is the job that your product does for a customer. Most often we are quick to recognize the functional job, but we forget the social and emotional jobs that products do. Design thinking leverages tools like ethnography and contextual interviews to better understand these jobs to be done.
But even a smaller subset of people who hear the word design, consider how design could change the world. Stewart Kauffman, the legendary biologist and complexity theorist phrased it most succinctly when he asked me the question: "when will it be time to think about how the economy can serve humanity rather than how humanity can serve the economy." He coined a sentiment that we all feel deep inside should be true but recognize may be different than the world we have created together.
Consider another angle on the issue. Many people spend hours every day playing video games, virtually checking out of reality. On the surface, we may be tempted to ask, what's wrong with these people wasting their lives? But as Jane McGonagall reframes the question, what's wrong with reality that so many people want to check out of reality. It's a thought-provoking question. Could reality be designed in such a way that more people want to check in and engage?
More broadly, could we "design" reality not just for the gamers, but for all of us, to serve our humanity better? I believe good design brings joy, provokes thought, eases discomfort, and other benefits. Revolutionary design can change the way we live and the world we live in to serve our humanity, rather than the other way around. I hope to collaborate with these designers today and in the future.