We could have easily called this post the future of money, yet in a more profound sense the current financial climate and the questions it is raising are provoking us to rethink value and the systems we devise to organize processes related to it.
Heather Moore, User Experience Manager at Vodafone, recently launched the lovely public domain initiative KashKlash aimed at an open discussion to co-create our future value systems. The sharing economy, the reputation economy, the gift economy, the free economy, alternative economies, shifting balances between production and consumption, ways to replace money, etc. are all themes up for debate over at the website.
“We are envisioning a new world where today’s aging, less useful and even dangerous financial systems are replaced by or mixed with more disruptive innovations and exchanges. Imagine yourself deprived of all of today’s financial resources. Maybe you’re a refugee or stateless. Yet you still have your handset and laptop and Internet and a broadband cellphone connection….”
Bruce Sterling proposes to explore 4 future scenarios, set up around 2 key variables: the degree of stability in exchange systems (ranging from a ‘confusing mess’ to ‘massive change’) & the state of communication technology (ranging from ‘old and broken’ to ‘the new cloud’).
Check out the stories of the scenarios’ main characters Big Mama, Greifswald, Rebel kids and Brixels.
I spent hours watching the albatross in the Galapagos hang out. The first thing you notice is that they have a terribly difficult time taking off. In the water, an albatross will have to spend hours waiting for the right wind to come along. On land, they're ungainly, but when they find the right conditions... they take off. And fly and fly and fly. An albatross can fly for days or weeks, with a heart rate similar to its resting heart rate. Possibly the best bird ever invented.
Albatross businesses are great to have but not easy to launch. Rather that the excitement of the big time launch and then the constant promotion and high expense of a typical business, an albatross business mucks around for a while, but since it's designed for effortless long flight, it gains steam and then keeps going.
Today is the third anniversary of the launch of Squidoo into alpha. We certainly had a slow take off, then a bump in the wind 18 months ago with spammers and the search engines, but we've reached a glide path. Note two things about this chart:
1. It takes three years to be an overnight success, sometimes more.
That means you need to either raise enough money from patient investors to stick it out... or, as in our case, be so lean and efficient that the cost of lasting long enough to make it profitable is one you can handle.
2. It's possible to organize a company around the idea that success breeds success.
Traditional businesses don't do that... if you're a wedding photographer or a restaurant, you're not going to have an albatross business. These businesses need ongoing promotion which leads to ongoing business, and around and around. There's clearly a benefit to reputation and word of mouth, but you're rarely going to see the hockey stick that is the goal of most internet businesses.
The two secrets, I think, are:
1. Plan for the long slow ramp up. That means super low overhead and patience and not trying to launch with a huge splash because you're impatient.
2. Architecture matters. If you intend to build an albatross, you'll want to design a business where each customer brings you new customers, where the more it gets used, the better it works.
We have a l o n g way to go before Squidoo hits the stride we're seeking, but on our third anniversary, it seemed like a worthwhile time to take a look of how close we are getting to our flight path. An albatross can achieve a 22:1 glide path--22 meters out for every meter down or up. That's the goal, leverage.
PS if you've never seen the albatross mating ritual, you really should. Time consuming, a lot of noise, very little action.
The Evolution of Creativity is Underway. Which Side Are You On? Are you a Planner who thinks about design? Maybe you are a designer who obsesses about the business impact of your designs. Or you might be an Information Architect who thinks about motion, transitions, multimedia, and uses tools like storyboarding and visual scenarios. Or how about a Developer who comes up with the “big idea”? If you haven’t noticed, creativity is evolving.
The perception of creativity itself is slowly but surely transitioning into a mutated and adapted life form. In the traditional world, a “creative” person usually meant someone with savant-like talents excelling in a specific creative discipline defined by fairly concrete parameters. Copywriters wrote copy. Art Directors directed art. There are still talented visual designers who can make anything look good. Brilliant copywriters who can come up with that magnificent tagline which stops you in your tracks. And don’t forget about smart, methodical Information Architects who devote their existence to usability and being an advocate for the end user.
These skills, talents and abilities are needed—no doubt about it. But what’s also needed is the evolution of them—the next iteration. But what does this look like? An Information Architect who completely grasps Human Computer Interaction but can also think fluidly—can do things like rapidly create prototypes, facilitate user testing, understand visual design and occasionaly write copy. This kind of individual possesses a multi-dimensional creative brain that has evolved over time. This type of mind is capable of creating customer experiences which provide competitive advantage in a fast moving world where customers are increasingly calling the shots.
In this world marketing/advertising/technology/and customer experience all blur together. So what does this mind look like? I have a perspective:
With consumer behavior evolving toward a more empowered status—the definition of creativity has shifted from one-dimensional skills to a four-dimensional type of creativity that blends logical thinking with creative problem solving. Individuals possessing this “New Creative Mindset” blend Analytical, Expressive, Curious and Sensual qualities into their thinking process. The result is a holistic approach to creativity that is effective across multiple touch points and experiences.
Can an Information Architect embody this kind of mindset? What about an Account Director? I think as human beings we are all capable of thinking like this.But as designers, communicators, marketers and creators of experiences—for us, it’s even more critical to become multi-dimensional creative thinkers and problem solvers.I’m not the only one talking about this. Tim Brown from IDEO evangelizes “Design Thinking” and “T-shaped People”. Both principals are related. Design Thinking encourages Designers to think past aesthetics and design simple solutions for complex problems. T-shaped people have a core competency but branch out into other areas and can do them well (thus forming a T). And of course there is the new kind of collaboration that comes with this—where we combine people with diverse skill sets who often times speak very different languages but need to come together to make their collective and diverse skills work together. This kind of collaboration sounds easier than it actually is, because when you get a few T-shaped people together, they tend to “play in each other's sandbox”. Translation? Ego’s need to be unlearned. In short, it’s not just about T-shaped people.
It’s about how we work together to create something that people will want to use, experience and ultimately—compel them to take action.
You could call this kind of collaboration—T-Shaped Creativity:
I don’t think that any of this is very new. It’s been happening for a while. In my time spent at agency.com, we developed pageless prototypes, pushed technology like Flash + Ajax and created human-centered “web applications”. But with the rapid and pervasive nature of Web 2.0 going mainstream—it’s becoming mandatory to be able to think and execute like this. Need proof? Take a look at this collection of thoughts + work from a recent grad of the IIT Institute of Design. Notice anything about how he approaches his work? He’s a “designer”, but aesthetics are only one small part of how he exercises his creativity. In fact, this brand of creativity is more like creative problem solving vs. the way many people still traditionally view creativity. And what about the teams? Aside from this evolved creative individual, what kind of team is needed to drive the next generation of communication, interaction and marketing engines? There’s not a clear answer to this question, but signs are heading toward smaller interdisciplinary teams composed of individuals possessing complimentary skill sets and overlapping talents.
So where does this all go from here? If you feel like you fit the bill, you’re probably thinking about how marketable you are right now. And remember, we’re not talking about a “jack of all trades” here.“Creativity 2.E” is not about doing everything and learning every application under the sun. It’s about being curious, empathetic, analytical, insightful and expressive all at the same time. It’s about being willing to do anything to get into the heads of your customer/user. It’s about adopting new tools, techniques and artifacts to help make your case for creating the right kinds of communications, interactions and experiences.So what to do if you’re feeling left out?
Resist the urge to become defensive and territorial—put that energy into developing an acute sense of curiosity and optimism. Become like a child.
Participate in the emerging media. Start a blog, update your site or if you don’t have one—set it up. Dive into the digital social communities and be willing to do what your customers do. Try methodology that you might not ordinarily consider. PowerPoint isn’t just for presentations. Flash isn’t just for motion. Move past boxes, arrows, colors, layouts, charts, funnels, and metrics.
Creativity 2.E is both old and new—and like evolution, will continue to change and modify over time. The question is will we?
Watching the Times struggle (and what you can learn)
Page by page, section by section, the influence of the New York Times is fading away. Great people on an important mission, but their footprint is shrinking and the company is losing stock value and cash and power and the ability to have the impact that they might.
Today's Sunday magazine has a cover story on Jennifer Aniston. Of course!
"All the News That's Fit to Print" is the heart of the problem. It was never that, of course. It was "All the News That Fits." The entire mindset of (every) newspaper has been driven by the cost of paper, the finite nature of paper, the cost of delivery and the cycle of a daily paper. You run enough articles to fit as many ads as you can sell.These are artifacts of a different age, one that today's consumer doesn't care a whit about.
Lots of organizations go through this analysis. How do you leverage your brand or your customer base to get to the next level, to enter new markets or new technologies--and do it while running your old business. And almost without exception, organizations are run by people who want to protect the old business, not develop the new one.
When you think about your business, realize that it is a combination of assets and constraints. The Times understood both, but suddenly, the constraints changed. Now, it's possible for a single individual with a Typepad account to reach more people than almost any newspaper in the country can. Loosen one constraint and the game changes. That leaves you with the assets, for a while anyway.
When in pain, the answer is not to pander to the masses and undo the very things that made you special.
Ten years ago, the paper knew what it had to do. They had a shot at inventing the future, but compromised their way to it instead of leading. Here are some simple ways they could think big instead of merely failing to defend the status quo:
1. Use their influence and brand to enable users to spread their content: Why, precisely, aren't the Zagats guides a NY Times product? Or Yelp? That's a quarter of a billion dollars worth of value that the paper with the most influential restaurant reviews page didn't create. Why didn't they build Wikipedia? Or a platform to influence the way politicians govern?
Hiring and promoting David Pogue is a great example of expanding that base into the online world. Buying about.com was smart, but being afraid to put the Times name on it was an error... an opportunity for leverage, wasted.
2. Leverage the op-ed page and spread important ideas: Sure, Tom Friedman and a handful of other columnists have a large reach and influence. But why doesn't the Times have 50 columnists? 500? Tom Peters or Jim Leff or Joel Spolsky or Micah Sifry or Pam Slim or Patrick Semmens or Dan Pink would be great columnists.Why not view the endless print space online as an opportunity to leverage their core asset?
What would happen if the huge team of existing Times editors and writers each interviewed an interesting or important person every day? 5,000 or 10,000 really important interviews every year, each waiting for a sponsor, each finding a relevant audience...
3. Build a permission asset: Times readers are among the most informed cultural consumers in the world. They tend to have money to spend and are eager for new ideas. What an opportunity to build 10 or a 100 or ten thousand silos. Carefully focused free email newsletters, and then blogs, each with an editor and plenty of relevant and useful ads. Well-written ideas, delivered with authority, are as important as ever. The Times sat back and let hundreds of other micro-sites deliver this instead.
4. Keep score: The New York Times bestseller list used to matter a great deal. It became a self-fulfilling prophecy, because bookstores discounted and promoted the bestsellers, which helped them sell more.
We still want to know what the bestsellers are, but the Times works hard not to tell us. There are literally a thousand categories of media that people want to know about (top blogs, top DVDs, etc.) and the Times abdicated their ability to keep score, to be the trusted referee and to drive the short head in almost every form of culture.
Consider this for a moment: Oprah is able to sell ten times as many copies of a book than the New York Times can. The Times abdicated their role as the leader of the conversation about books.
The Times has always used freelancers and stringers to report and contribute to the paper. But how many? Why doesn't the paper have 10,000 stringers, each with a blog, each angling to be picked up by the central site? You wouldn't have to pay much per story to build a semi-pro cadre of writers and reporters. When you organize the news (delivering unique perspectives to people who want to hear them) you influence the conversation.
6. Create new platforms for advertisers:
The Times has profited longer than most newspapers because of New York. New York is an efficient place to be a newspaper. Lots of people, lots of advertisers, lots of spending, influence all over the world. But even that isn't enough to support the failing economics of dead trees and delivery. The only reason a paper exists (from a business point of view) is to sell ads.
So, what sort of ad-rich, ad-centric media could they build? From directories to pdfs to coupons to promotions, the list is nearly endless.
• • •
Instead of building something that dominates in this century the way they did in the last, the editors at the paper are pandering to the masses (and failing). Today's Magazine not only features the aforementioned volumes of insight about Jennifer Aniston, but it also includes yet another lame Ethicist column (they run it because they always have) and a weak interview with David Lynch (which no one will talk about on Monday). It also features recipes (we don't need more recipes, thanks, we now have an infinite number of recipes) and their latest affectation, which is overdesigned typesetting that is unreadable. All of these efforts are placeholders, not bold moves to create something that matters.
The people I know at the Times are smart, driven, honest and on a mission to do great work. The people didn't fail the system, the system failed them.
Do the people running the Times know more about running a newspaper or building ideas that spread profitably online? How about the people running your organization? Odds are, they're great at yesterday's business.
I guess it's about the difference between:
senior management playing defense, supporting and protecting the status quo and avoiding offending the elders upstairs vs.
using existing momentum and clout to build assets for the next business.
Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson Needs To Think Like a Designer To Fix The Financial Crisis.
Posted by: Bruce Nussbaum on October 13
The failure to employ the methods of innovation and design thinking to the current financial mess is prolonging and deepening the crisis. It is now clear that Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and leading members of the Bush Administration and Congress are trying to solve an entirely new financial problem by using models from the past that fit their comfort levels and current levels of understanding. After 30 years of a market paradigm (governments are bad, markets are good), the effort to find market solutions to the credit crunch has sent the U.S. lurching from one plan to another, each so complicated that it can’t be implemented quickly. And so the crisis deepens.Markets are great for many things, especially sorting things out efficiently, but not in a credit meltdown built on highly opaque, complex financial instruments.Sequoia Capital has a great slide show showing how we got into the mess and how to survive it. It took new thinking from Britain over this weekend to clarify the crisis and show the way out of it. Britain looked to a very different paradigm, a government, not a market solution. Simply invest taxpayers money directly into banks to boost liquidity. Take non-voting equity stakes so the people get their money back, if not profit, from the resulting rebound in the banks and the economy. This was out-of-the-box thinking. Perhaps it is an overstatement, but Britain has been one of the key leaders in the world recently in applying design thinking to non-business, civic society problems such as transportation. Coming up with a new choice, not making a better choice among existing options, is at the heart of that process.Roger Martin, dean of the Rotman School of Management, recently talked about design and the generation of new models.
We live in a period of ambiguity, volatility and complexity—perfect for design thinking which thrives in this environment. We need to employ the tools and methods of design to get us into the future. More later.
1) Jogger running through forest. 2) Tree branches start folding in on jogger, wrapping around his arms and legs. He tries to keep running but the branches are holding him back. He begins sweating profusely, struggling against the resistance. 3) Shoes start to light up. 4) Glow starts to emanate from shoes, enveloping jogger. 5) Branches start to fall away, and jogger continues running easily.
Too good to be true (the overnight millionaire scam)
You probably don't need to read this, but I bet you know people who do. Please feel free to repost or forward:
Times are tough, and many say they are going to be tougher. That makes some people more focused, it turns others desperate.
You may be tempted at some point to try to make a million dollars. To do it without a lot of effort or skill or risk. Using a system, some shortcut perhaps, or mortgaging something you already own.
There are countless infomercials and programs and systems that promise to help you do this. There are financial instruments and investments and documents you can sign that promise similar relief from financial stress.
There are four ways to make a million dollars. Luck. Patient effort. Skill. Risk.
(Five if you count inheritance, and six if you count starting with two million dollars).
Conspicuously missing from this list are effortless 1-2-3 systems that involve buying an expensive book or series of tapes. Also missing are complicated tax shelters or other 'proven' systems. The harder someone tries to sell you this solution, the more certain you should be that it is a scam. If no skill or effort is required, then why doesn't the promoter just hire a bunch of people at minimum wage and keep the profits?
There are literally a million ways to make a good living online, ten million ways to start and thrive with your own business offline. But all of these require effort, and none of them are likely to make you a million dollars.
Short version of my opinion: If someone offers to sell you the secret system, don't buy it. If you need to invest in a system before you use it, walk away. If you are promised big returns with no risk and little effort, you know the person is lying to you. Every time.
Work hard, make money. Well, not always. But it's a start.
“In this nearly 27 minute video Bruce Sterling, a leading futurist, speaker, columnist and science fiction writer, shares his vision on where mobile is heading. Preaching his story from a somewhat unconventional place, the pulpit instead of the stage, he managed to silence the audience. Check the video to see what he had to say to the Mobile sinners.”
Highlights from Bruce Sterling's speech:
'[Cellphones have] become a kind of remote control. And it really is becoming the real world answer to 20 year old computer science theories about ubiquitous computing.They're the portals of Ubi-Comp, these devices, these "handsets" '.
'We're used to thinking of the digital world is on this side of the glass, and the analog world is on that side of the glass, we're sort of touching the glass...I really think that's going away'.
'We live in a volcano, we live in a digital tech world...if you're talking about the social impact of digital technology...those who live close to the volcano are those who get covered in volcanic ash'.
'These things you are putting into peoples hands, these are not phones...You are putting banks into people's hands, you are putting clinincs into their hands. These are not phones, even with an "i" in front of [the name]'.
Here is the “manifesto” of our Global Agenda Council/Design group that came out of an amazing day of discussion in Dubai about the financial/economic crisis and what design thinking can do to help reshape the big issues of the day. It is an excellent summary of the state of art of design and innovation.
To structure the discussion among 68 Global Agenda Councils, the World Economic Forum asked each to focus on answering two questions on the issue before each GAC:
1) What is the state of the world on this issue and how is the economic crisis impacting this issue? 2) What should be done to improve the state of the world on this issue/region/industry and by whom?
Here is the Design GAC’s response:
Throughout history, design has been an agent of change.It helps us to understand the changes in the world around us, and to turn them to our advantage by translating them into things that can make our lives better. Now, at a time of crisis and unprecedented change in every area of our lives – economic, political, environmental, societal and in science and technology – design is more valuable than ever.
The crisis comes at a time when design has evolved. Once a tool of consumption chiefly involved in the production of objects and images, design is now also engaged with developing and building systems and strategies, and in changing behaviour often in collaboration with different disciplines.
Design is being used to: · Gain insight about people’s needs and desires · Build strategic foresight to discover new opportunities · Generate creative possibilities · Invent, prototype and test novel solutions of value · Deliver solutions into the world as innovations adopted at scale
In the current climate, the biggest challenges for design and also its greatest opportunities are:
· Well-being – Design can make an important contribution to the redefinition and delivery of social services by addressing acute problems such as ageing, youth crime, housing and health. Many designers are striving to enable people all over the world to lead their lives with dignity, especially the deprived majority of the global population - “the other 90%” who have the greatest need of design innovation.
· Sustainability – Designers can play a critical role in ensuring that products, systems and services are developed, produced, shipped, sold and will eventually be disposed of in an ethically and environmentally responsible manner.Thereby meeting - and surpassing - consumers’ expectations.
· Learning – Design can help to rebuild the education system to ensure that it is fit for purpose in the 21st Century. Another challenge is to redefine or reorient the design education system at a time of unprecedented demand when thousands of new design schools are being built worldwide and design is increasingly being integrated into other curricula. Designers are also deploying their skill at communication and visualization to explain and interpret the overwhelming volume of extraordinary complex information.
. Innovation – Designers are continuing to develop and deliver innovative new products at a turbulent time when consumer attitudes are changing dramatically thereby creating new and exciting entrepreneurial opportunities in the current crisis.They are increasingly using their expertise to innovate in new areas such as the creation of new business models and adoption of a strategic and systemic role in both the public and the private sector.”
I was fortunate to be able to work with an amazing group of people in the Design GAC: Chris Luebkeman, director of global foresight and innovation for ARUP, was our chairman. Paola Antonelli, senior curator of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Brian Collins who now runs his own ad/marketing company in his own name, Tim Brown of IDEO, Toshiko Mori of the Harvard University Graduate School of Design, Chris Jordan, a photographic artist, Alice Rawsthorn, design critic at the International Herald Tribune, Milton Tan, Executive Director of DesignSingapore Council, Ministry of Informatin, Communications and the Arts and Arnold Wasserman, chairman of The Idea Factory in Singapore.
Others in the group who couldn’t make it to Dubai were Hillary Cottom founder of Participle in the UK, Kigge Mai Hvid CEO of Index in Denmark, Chris Bangle, director of design for BMW, Larry Keeley of Doblin, John Maeda, President of RISD and William McDonough.
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The sad lie of mediocrity Doing 4% less does not get you 4% less.
Doing 4% less may very well get you 95% less.
That's because almost good enough gets you nowhere.No sales, no votes, no customers. The sad lie of mediocrity is the mistaken belief that partial effort yields partial results. In fact, the results are usually totally out of proportion to the incremental effort. Big organizations have the most trouble with this, because they don't notice the correlation. It's hidden by their momentum and layers of bureaucracy. So a mediocre phone rep or a mediocre chef may not appear to be doing as much damage as they actually are.
The flip side of this is that when you are at the top, the best in the world, the industry leader, a tiny increase in effort and quality can translate into huge gains. For a while, anyway.
In a highly competitive job market, being qualified isn't enough anymore. Companies are looking for whoever will go above and beyond the requirements, all of the time.
In preparation of the upcoming US presidential elections, now only days away, both WIRED and Monocle did the exercise and laid out the cards of their ‘dream’ cabinet … not necessarily of politicians, of people running for power by choice, but of individuals they see most fit for the job to solve at least some of the most pressing challenges that US society is facing. It would be all too easy to dismiss their move as technocratic dreamery. Times are achanging and systems of governance, leadership and societal problem solving are not immune to that.
It is an interesting thought experiment to ponder over the future of our socio-political systems, yet it is also true that the person who dares to ask ‘what comes next, after democracy?’ can be fairly sure to be looked upon in disbelief, fear or outright insult. We use the term democracy often lightly - and in the meantime do not always do justice to its complexity by dumbing it down to but the folk notions that fill the airwaves - as if the concept has remained the same since it was coined in the stoas and on the agoras of ancient Greece. The term has remained the same throughout the ages but what the complex denotes has changed and continues to change.To remain in sync with the dynamics of contemporaneity and those of times to come, systems (need to) change. Change does not necessarily mean that good characteristics of the current system will disappear (nor bad ones, sic) yet reinvention ought to aim for the best fit not on where we are but also in view of where we wish to go.So what are the images people have of the future of our socio-political and institutional systems? How far can we and do we dare to look ahead?
In times in which big, familiar ideologies are fading or have stopped reinventing themselves and the political landscape looks bleak, covered with visionless or populist rubble, in times in which change is fast, challenges are huge and increasingly exceed election cycles and national borders, imagine a future where perhaps not party-politics but projects to tackle challenges define the team and the dynamics of the game of governance and leadership, where not politicians but a diverse mix of people takes the lead , where management vs. innovation of the nation and its systems are perhaps two different games played by different groups of people, within different timeframes, where … There are many aspects of our current system that could be different in the future. A thousand tomorrows are possible for those who set their mind to it.
The 2008 Smart List: 15 People the Next President Should Listen To
Dear President _________, Congratulations! Now brace yourself for an avalanche of advice — from the 21 people in your Cabinet, from dozens of advisory councils, hundreds of members of Congress, thousands of lobbyists and pundits, and millions of voters. Everyone's got an opinion on what needs to be done. But the policies that emerge from such groupthink tend to be weird mashups of conflicting interests or warmed-over slabs of conventional wisdom. Enough of that. The country needs fresh directions and crisp action plans on intractable issues like climate change, energy, security, and defense. To help shape your thinking, we've come up with a Smart List of 15 Wired people with big ideas about how to fix the things that need fixing. Hail to the new chief — and please listen up.
As the US presidential election draws closer, at Monocle we've been turning our attention to who we'd like to see in the Cabinet. From CEOs to hip hop moguls, we've found a team who could change America's image around the world.
The World Future Society recently published their top ten of future developments to keep an eye on in view of 2009 and beyond:
Everything you say and do will be recorded by 2030.
Bioviolence will become a greater threat as the technology becomes more accessible.
The car’s days as king of the road will soon be over.
Careers, and the college majors for preparing for them, are becoming more specialized.
There may not be world law in the foreseeable future, but the world’s legal systems will be networked.
The race for biomedical and genetic enhancement will — in the twenty-first century — be what the space race was in the previous century.
Professional knowledge will become obsolete almost as quickly as it’s acquired.
Urbanization will hit 60% by 2030.
The Middle East will become more secular while religious influence in China will grow.
Access to electricity will reach 83% of the world by 2030.
As 2008 flies by and 2009 approaches, prepare for more lists.
From the original site:
Forecast # 1: Everything you say and do will be recorded by 2030. By the late 2010s, ubiquitous unseen nanodevices will provide seamless communication and surveillance among all people everywhere.Humans will have nanoimplants, facilitating interaction in an omnipresent network. Everyone will have a unique Internet Protocol (IP) address. Since nano storage capacity is almost limitless, all conversation and activity will be recorded and recoverable. — Gene Stephens, “Cybercrime in the Year 2025,” THE FUTURIST July-Aug 2008.
Forecast #2: Bioviolence will become a greater threat as the technology becomes more accessible. Emerging scientific disciplines (notably genomics, nanotechnology, and other microsciences) could pave the way for a bioattack. Bacteria and viruses could be altered to increase their lethality or to evade antibiotic treatment.— Barry Kellman, “Bioviolence: A Growing Threat,” THE FUTURIST May-June 2008.
Forecast #3: The car's days as king of the road will soon be over. More powerful wireless communication that reduces demand for travel, flying delivery drones to replace trucks, and policies to restrict the number of vehicles owned in each household are among the developments that could thwart the automobile’s historic dominance on the environment and culture.If current trends were to continue, the world would have to make way for a total of 3 billion vehicles on the road by 2025. — Thomas J. Frey, “Disrupting the Automobile’s Future,” THE FUTURIST, Sep-Oct 2008.
Forecast #4: Careers, and the college majors for preparing for them, are becoming more specialized. An increase in unusual college majors may foretell the growth of unique new career specialties. Instead of simply majoring in business, more students are beginning to explore niche majors such as sustainable business, strategic intelligence, and entrepreneurship. Other unusual majors that are capturing students' imaginations: neuroscience and nanotechnology, computer and digital forensics, and comic book art. Scoff not: The market for comic books and graphic novels in the United States has grown 12% since 2006.—THE FUTURIST, World Trends & Forecasts, Sep-Oct 2008.
Forecast #5: There may not be world law in the foreseeable future, but the world's legal systems will be networked. The Global Legal Information Network (GLIN), a database of local and national laws for more than 50 participating countries, will grow to include more than 100 counties by 2010. The database will lay the groundwork for a more universal understanding of the diversity of laws between nations and will create new opportunities for peace and international partnership.— Joseph N. Pelton, "Toward a Global Rule of Law: A Practical Step Toward World Peace," THE FUTURIST Nov-Dec 2007.
A Crisis or an Opportunity? What Makes the Difference?
The critical difference is whether you are prepared. If you're aware of possible developments… if you see changes coming… you can take action and prepare yourself. In a rapidly changing world, new opportunities are emerging everywhere. If you get an advance notice of these possible changes, you can be ready. You can ride these waves of change to benefit your career, your business, your family and your investments.
The news — even instant news — is recent history. But understanding trends and possible future developments is some of the most valuable knowledge you can have. It enables you prepare while you still have the opportunity and time to act.
Here are a few more thought-provoking forecasts…
Forecast #6: The race for biomedical and genetic enhancement will — in the twenty-first century — be what the space race was in the previous century. Humanity is ready to pursue biomedical and genetic enhancement, says UCLA professor Gregory Stock, the money is already being invested, but, he says, “We'll also fret about these things — because we're human, and it's what we do.” — Gregory Stock quoted in THE FUTURIST, Nov-Dec 2007.
Forecast #7: Professional knowledge will become obsolete almost as quickly as it's acquired. An individual's professional knowledge is becoming outdated at a much faster rate than ever before. Most professions will require continuous instruction and retraining. Rapid changes in the job market and work-related technologies will necessitate job education for almost every worker. At any given moment, a substantial portion of the labor force will be in job retraining programs.— Marvin J. Cetron and Owen Davies, "Trends Shaping Tomorrow's World, Part Two," THE FUTURIST May-June 2008.
Forecast #8: Urbanization will hit 60% by 2030. As more of the world's population lives in cities, rapid development to accommodate them will make existing environmental and socioeconomic problems worse. Epidemics will be more common due to crowded dwelling units and poor sanitation. Global warming may accelerate due to higher carbon dioxide output and loss of carbon-absorbing plants.— Marvin J. Cetron and Owen Davies, “Trends Shaping Tomorrow's World,” THE FUTURIST Mar-Apr 2008.
Forecast #9: The Middle East will become more secular while religious influence in China will grow.Popular support for religious government is declining in places like Iraq, according to a University of Michigan study. The researchers report that in 2004 only one-fourth of respondents polled believed that Iraq would be a better place if religion and politics were separated. By 2007, that proportion was one-third. Separate reports reveal a countertrend in China. — World Trends & Forecasts, THE FUTURIST Nov-Dec 2007.
Forecast #10: Access to electricity will reach 83% of the world by 2030. Electrification has expanded around the world, from 40% connected in 1970 to 73% in 2000, and may reach 83% of the world's people by 2030. Electricity is fundamental to raising living standards and access to the world's products and services. Impoverished areas such as Sub-Saharan Africa still have low rates of electrification; Uganda is just 3.7% electrified. — Andy Hines, “Global Trends in Culture, Infrastructure, and Values,” Sep-Oct 2008.
How to Spot Important Trends Years Ahead of the Crowd
World Future Society members have access to the work of futurists around the world in the pages of THE FUTURIST magazine.
In the age of the Internet and 24/7 news, there is a serious glut of information, making it hard to determine what's really going on. THE FUTURIST gives you a way to make sense of our rapidly changing world. Each issue of THE FUTURIST will brief you on the most important trends that affect your business, career, family, investments, and the world in general.
We present the most significant trends divided into six sectors that are commonly used by professional business planners.
The sectors are:
Breakthrough Technologies — You'll see the impact of new technologies and the latest innovations, discoveries and new solutions on the horizon.
Economic and Business Forecasts — You'll get vital updates on major economic, business and consumer trends, and investment and financial outlooks.
Environment and Resource Outlook — New ideas and reports on natural resources, habitats, sustainable communities and more.
Social Trends — Changes in values and lifestyles and topics such as religion, entertainment, sports, arts, language, sex and family.
Demographics — The latest trends on population, immigration, births, deaths, marriages, and other vital information.
Government and Regulatory Trends — The impact of laws, regulations, taxes, politics, diplomacy and war.
This “Six Sector” analysis of trends saves you time by compressing a massive amount of information into six major categories. What you get in each issue is a careful selection of the most interesting and significant current reports on trends, forecasts, and potentially important developments.
We are entering what may be a sharp and perhaps prolonged recession and innovation can help companies get through it. I remember talking with HP’s Sam Lucente a while back about what he did when Mark Hurd took over as CEO. HP was then in crisis and Hurd, an operations guy, was called in to save the company.
Sam told me that, as a designer, he came up with 3 principles that could help HP and Hurd. They are based on the power of design. Here they are:
1- Design Can Simplify. Design can save money by creating a common design language among different products that reduces parts and makes them more user-friendly. Design can also simplify supply chains and organizations in general, also saving money. Incremental design can be good design.
2- Design Can Differentiate. In a down market, a company needs to have THE product that consumers must have.That’s what Sequoia said recently to its startups. Design can come up with that killer product by understanding what customers need and want at this point in time and giving it to them.
3- Design Can Innovate. Recessions are great times to come up with a service, product or experience that is totally new and game-changing for launch once the economic recovery begins. Remember, Apple came up with Apple stores and the iPod as the tech bubble burst. Companies that cut back on innovation to save on cost in a downturn lose competitive edge in the upturn.
Thanks Sam. It worked for HP. It would work for all companies in this serious recession.
Necessity is the mother of invention; at a time when the roof is falling in on the biggest of companies, the ones who are resilient enough to roll with the punches will come out on top. Darwin's law: adaptation is survival.
Smart marketers understand that a new logo can't possibly increase your market share, and they know that an expensive logo doesn't defeat a cheap logo. They realize that the logo is like a first name, it's an identifier.
So, when Pepsi and BestBuy start 'testing' logos, and proclaiming that a new logo might change their market share, I get nervous. You can't test a logo any more than you can test a first name. Sure, you can eliminate Myxlplyx as an outlier, but given the success of the Starbucks mermaid and the Dunkin Donuts typeface (two outliers) you can see that this testing is sort of meaningless.
I guess the punchline is: take the time and money and effort you'd put into an expensive logo and put them into creating a product and experience and story that people remember instead.
All the slick advertising and brand promotion in the world won't save a crap product. Here endeth the lesson.
"Peace" by Daniel Chang, Graphic Design, a final poster from a transdisciplinary studio, instructors Martha Rich and Esther Watson, Illustration
Social impact projects that come into the classroom and burst out into the field are thrilling. The rush of creativity and the synergy of many minds working together can result in purposeful design projects to great effect: generating tangible solutions that make a lasting difference in people's lives.
Historically, designers have always strived to create positive social change, and many celebrated efforts--think back to the Bauhaus--started in schools. Both of those things remain true today. In fact, design education has a larger role than ever to play in challenging the status quo around the wicked problems of a crowded planet. Despite, and perhaps because of, the world being in such turmoil, this is a very exciting time for design and designers. I firmly believe that with an expanded tool kit, designers can be instrumental contributors to a conversation about the future that it is getting increasingly layered and multidisciplinary. If we are ever to reduce or curtail dire societal ills and achieve sustainable development--by definition, prosperity that is globally shared and environmentally sustainable--responsible design needs to be front and center as part of the equation. (For an engrossing state of the world report, see Common Wealth: Economics for a Crowded Planet, by the economist Jeffrey Sachs.)
When it comes to social-impact messaging, the key advice is don't be drab; make it intriguing and make it look as fabulous as the new beer commercial. Generate mileage by utilizing the same attention-grabbing strategies you would for a consumer-based product.
Educational institutions are vital labs for creative inquiry, entrepreneurial force and experimentation. As such, they can act as a powerful nexus for projects about critical issues that engage students in meaningful work.I have a front row seat in this dynamic field as the lead of the college-wide program Designmatters at Art Center College of Design. At the college through Designmatters, we constantly challenge ourselves to instill in our projects an empathetic approach, and to deliver "real-world" outcomes that have a killer aesthetic. At the root of the process, I am guided by a frontier-like impetus to create unusual alliances that cut across traditional boundaries between development and non-profit agencies, government and business sectors.
Camel Convoys in Kenya and testing of camel saddle and solar panel system for Mpala Community Trust with Bronx Zoo personnel
What does it look like? What does it all mean? The projects below are a few salient exemplars--the voices of some of the individuals who make them happen offer a good starting point to draw an action list from.
It's Not About You In northern Kenya, nomadic herding communities travel through the dusty terrain of the bush under glaring sunlight. Mpala Community Trust (MCT) operates mobile clinics of local counselors and camel convoys that provide the sole reliable source of health services in the region. Thanks to our collaboration with the Undergraduate Engineering Department of Princeton University, and the design of an ingenious saddle supporting flexible solar panels to power portable refrigeration units, the camels will soon be carrying vaccines and other medical supplies that currently spoil under the heat conditions in the area.
The Mpala Project is the outcome of a seemingly unlikely initial partnership between MCT and Designmatters. The collaboration made it possible for us to participate as a 2007 finalist in the World Bank Development Marketplace competition, and subsequently became the premise for a studio class of illustration students, who designed a series of visually-based health education materials for the clinic that promote HIV/AIDS and family planning. The prototypes were sent back to Kenya, and a recent snapshot from the field shows counselors using two of the student products: a canvas flipbook of images promoting safe sex, and a fabric viewing device with pictures illustrating the benefits of family planning.
These exciting outcomes started with a realization by our students that they had to transcend their ingrained preconceptions.
Instructional fabric book to teach HIV/AIDS prevention, created as part of the Mpala project: from the studio to the field
"If your goal is to design something for someone else, you have to work with them, not for them," says Wendy MacNaughton, Campaign Director at Underground Ads in San Francisco and one of the advisors of the project whose field research in Kenya informed the student team. "This means giving up your ego, your assumptions, your biases, and stepping into another person's shoes."
When you are setting up complex projects that demand a considerable stretch in cultural bridging, relying on human-centered research methodologies, a participatory mode, and a sense of self-awareness are essential. It may be a humbling point of entry, but it is critical. In such circumstances, the balancing act is to inculcate the educational process with the rigor of real-world constraints while maintaining a nurturing and stimulating environment in the studio. This give-and-take is at the core of our practice through Designmatters. Another fundamental characteristic of the program is its reliance on a network of distinct partnerships.
In finding partners, complementary expertise is a primary requirement. The other essential is the capacity to maximize the design outcomes. Creating such alliances empowers you to have a greater impact through design and add value to your own exploration. In this sense, I often equate partnerships to finding a space where you can break loose from the confines of your own frame of mind, and find ways to achieve more progressive solutions. Say no to silos.
Don't Accept Things at Surface Value Advocacy in the classroom starts with the faculty. Teachers are the primary agents of the transformative journey students undergo during these projects, abandoning their comfort zones and exploring new paradigms. "As a class we have a specific goal to accomplish," says Esther Pearl Watson of Art Center's Illustration Department. In challenging and guiding students through a real-world assignment, "we cannot create work that is simply good enough."
"This is My Home" by Cindy Chen, Graphic Design, a final poster from a transdisciplinary studio, instructors Martha Rich and Esther Watson, Illustration
Fundamentally, with the increased complexity at stake in the content of social impact projects, a radical shift occurs. Along with a requisite set of tried and true problem-solving methodologies and a design process that faculty will access no matter the topic--getting students to crystallize concepts and arrive at the kernel of their "big idea" in order to articulate meaningful interventions--the range of inquiry inevitably expands. "Students experience how things work outside the bubble of school," says Martha Rich, who often co-teaches with Watson, "learning how to deal with clients, criticism and to see the power of their work. It is enlightening."
I would also argue that these projects trigger a heightened motivation. Ultimately, the real learning may lie not in the problem solving though, but in the problem seeking.
Sketches of a solar water purifier to provide access to clean water in rural Guatemala, by Gabriel la O'and Armie Pasa, Product Design, with advisor Tony Luna; "Leucocita" health campaign for Project Concern International, student team: Raymond Dang, Armie Pasa, Michael Tam, and Jack Wittbold, from a transdisciplinary studio led by Robert Ball, Environmental Design; Igor Burt, Product Design; and Allison Goodman, Graphic Design
Armie Pasa and Gabriel la O' (product design) are a case in point. They are tackling entrenched problems caused by poverty, and developing measurable solutions, whether it is a water filtration system for rural Guatemala, or a campaign for community-based healthcare interventions in Tijuana in partnership with Project Concern International. Armie characterizes this community-focused work as both challenging and fulfilling: "These projects are beyond our scope of vision," says Armie of the challenging and fulfilling community-focused work. "I think every design student should see what is on the other side. It opens the door to making the impossible a possibility of hope."
As leaders of design-education institutions, it is clear that the yearning to address socially relevant explorations is not just percolating down from our desks; it is bubbling up from our students' expectations.
"One of the most remarkable changes in the work and thinking of student designers in the last five years is that socially responsible design has become an assumption--it's built in from the start, in the projects students select and in the people they want to design for," says Mark Breitenberg, Art Center's Dean of Humanities and Design Sciences and Icsid's President Elect. "So when I'm feeling optimistic I imagine the next generation of designers seeing their professional work primarily as an opportunity to change the world. A lofty thought, I know, but that's the way the generational wind is blowing."
When you unleash the energy, enthusiasm and unique ingenuity and optimism of design to effect change, the results are empowering. "It is very inspiring," says Justin Cram, a recent graduate of the Graphic Design Department, and a summer fellow with Doctors Without Borders, where he was immersed in a team with global reach to craft campaigns with potentially critical consequences. "Especially to be part of this network."
Mari Nakano, Graduate Media Design student
"The goal is not to make something acceptable, but something memorable," says Mari Nakano (Graduate Media Design), a Designmatters Fellow this fall in the Communications office at the UN Population Fund. To that end, she is unapologetic about espousing controversial ideas. "If we are fierce, and inspiring, we can instill social change from the grassroots on up."
As leaders of design-education institutions, it is clear that the yearning to address socially relevant explorations is not just percolating down from our desks; it is bubbling up from our students' expectations.
Turn Heads, Change Minds Effective advocacy depends on enabling people to learn more about the issues that matter so that they can become part of the solution. "Once in the ether," says the film student Alice Park (The G.G. Meeting), "the easier and more willing people are to have an open forum on the subject, and take action."
"Today the most endangered natural resource is not oil or fresh water," says Professor Nik Hafermaas, Graphic Design Chairman and Acting Chief Academic Officer at Art Center, "it is the human attention span." The designer's job must be to grab and hold that attention in order to focus it on areas of critical need through what he calls the white noise of ubiquitous media. "Successful communication designers have become visual engineers--their tools are surprise, empathy and beauty."
Design intervention by Gavin Alaoen as part of a Graphic Design studio, instructor Sean Donahue, Graduate Media Design
In other words, the act of persuasion has never been tougher. Designers have to operate amidst the current flux of emergent technologies, user-generated media and the very obvious end of the "one size fits all" broadcasting paradigm. Tanja Diezmann, who leads Art Center's Interface Design program, recently guided a team of students through the development of "After Shock," an interactive, on-line simulation of the individual and social impacts of a major earthquake on the communities of Southern California. The simulation, a joint project with the Institute for the Future that is in turn one communication component of "The Los Angeles Earthquake: Get Ready" project launches next November 13, and should be an interesting experiment that applies the social media phenomenon of "alternate reality experiences" to the pressing problem of local community disaster preparedness. So when it comes to social-impact messaging, the key advice is don't be drab; make it intriguing and make it look as fabulous as the new beer commercial. Generate mileage by utilizing the same attention-grabbing strategies you would for a consumer-based product.
It also boils down to not being afraid of acting a bit of a provocateur--while keeping a good grip on your understanding about the issues at hand. And by all means, be real. If there is no authenticity in the message you design, folks see right through it.
Some of the success we have experienced in this vein at Art Center have been led by our undergraduate Film Department, which houses a studio for students to conceive and shoot public service announcements that are distributed widely by the commissioning agencies that Designmatters brings in. A few recent examples include campaigns on the topic of obesity, climate change and the global water crisis.
Blowing Smoke, directed by Jonas Mayabb
The GG Meeting, directed by Alice Park
Circle, Directed by David Beglin
Apathy, directed by Hugo Stenson
Sweaty Man, Directed by Jason Kim
Fat Lane, directed by Jonas Mayabb (Film)
A Shifting Emphasis Designmatters is one of many design programs, and a design community at large, where the DNA is evolving toward a strong emphasis on imbuing the educational experience, as well as design practice, with critical content and a sense of contemporary relevance and commitment. And I believe this evolution can easily become a tipping point for the future of design and design education.
Let us seize this opportunity to advance design's potential for social impact. Let us seize on the optimism of a new generation of students by providing them with more choices for real-world exposure. Let us envision and embrace this vision of the future by providing a collaborative framework and the right tools and methodologies to put forward-thinking designers in the driver's seat of social change.
Octavio Paz, the Mexican writer, poet and diplomat, once famously said: "Deserve your dream." These words resonate simultaneously with a sense of hope and responsibility. They also represent fundamental advice and inspiration that I take to heart with the start of each new project, as we seek to achieve our most important dreams through design.
In this post, Marianna Amatullo makes the case that designers should be compelled to make to make their work exciting, even controversial, in order for their message to be noticed and imparted unto an audience.