Bringing Design Thinking to China

From Linkedin´s article

I just returned from a trip to China and wanted to write down a few reflections. The week began with a visit to Tsinghua University in Beijing with whom we’ve partnered to develop a design-thinking curriculum, and ended with a stop at IDEO’s Shanghai studio.

The people I met were mostly young entrepreneurial candidates for the design coursework. There’s an enormous entrepreneurial vein in China, and it’s not all about technology. I was interested to learn about the vast array of ideas they’re spinning up, from products and services to renewable energy to real estate to social entrepreneurship. The culture there is very commercial, but there was huge enthusiasm about how design could make them better business-builders.

And the faculty are listening: the Vice President and Provost of Tsinghua University expressed interest in bringing the latest on design thinking to China and incorporating design thinking into Tsinghua’s engineer education. It’s an exciting prospect to think that these graduates may be the next business leaders of China. This is a long play—it may take a decade—but eventually there’s going to be more people who are trying to solve problems through the lens of human beings and there’s a palpable enthusiasm about that shift.

Part of it will require transitioning from a “Made in China” to a “Created in China” sensibility. There’s evidence of a new focus on R&D: The 5-year plans that are coming out of the central government place innovation and climate change high on the agenda. And not a moment too soon, as other nations have taken up mass manufacturing and Chinese brands have to distinguish themselves not just on price point, but also on quality and new ideas.

Take DJI, the drone company. China’s scale propelled their business initially, but they now own about 70 percent of the global world market, according to the Financial Times, because they’ve invested in innovation and international growth. Other major players like Huawei and Tencent know, too, that they can’t just be a domestic play. That global mindedness represents both an opportunity and a challenge. Chinese companies can’t be run algorithmically anymore, they need to get creative about expanding their market.

One thing that left me breathless while I was there was how China has the ability to leapfrog systems solutions. I rode high-speed rail from Beijing to Shanghai and sitting in the station on one of the pristine trains you look out the window and see a white polished marble platform that stretches to infinity. They travel at a ridiculous speed completely silently and run with Swiss precision. We had seats in a business class cabin that was more comfortable than any airline I’ve ever flown. Compare it to dark, dank Penn Station and it puts American rail to shame.

If the Chinese can do that with trains I can only imagine what hospitals and cities could become if the human-centered design is practiced at scale here.

From what I saw, and granted it was a limited view, the appetite is there to learn those tools of creativity. They don’t want to understand design to become more like America. They want to understand design to become a better version of China.

From IDEO CEO`S TIM BROWN
Original Article
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10 New Principles Of Good Design

2017 was a year of reckoning for the design community. UX became a weapon, AI posed countless new challenges, and debate erupted over once rock-solid design paradigms. Even some of the industry’s leading lights suggested their revolutionary inventions have serious, unintended consequences.

The upside: Designers thrive on questioning convention–on unearthing solutions to seemingly intractable problems. If 2017 revealed anything, it’s that good design has never mattered more; it’s just the parameters of “good design” that have changed.

With a nod to Braun legend Dieter Rams–whose 10 principles for good design remain indispensable, though somewhat narrowly concerned with the particulars of industrial design–here are 10 new principles for good design.

GOOD DESIGN IS TRANSPARENT

User-friendly design has been the dominant paradigm in human-computer interaction for decades, and for good reason: It reduces complex code into a simple language anyone can understand. But today, amid a string of high-profile data breaches and opaque algorithms that threaten the very bedrock of democracy, consumers have grown wary of slick interfaces that hide their inner workings. “For years there was such a huge UX trend toward seamlessness and concealing as much as possible in the interest of making things user-friendly,” Ame Elliott, design director of the nonprofit Simply Secure, said earlier this year. “Now, as discipline, interaction designers and UX experts have a lot of hard work to do to think about how to expose those seams in appropriate ways.”

Good design should be transparent enough to empower users–to help them make informed decisions about their privacy, their browsing habits, and more–without overwhelming them.

GOOD DESIGN CONSIDERS BROAD CONSEQUENCES

Another problem with user-friendly design: In focusing on the immediate needs of users, it often fails to consider long-term consequences. Take Facebook’s echo chamber, Airbnb’s deleterious impact on affordable housing, or the smartphone, which is literally changing people’s brains and has spawned an entire generation of teenage automatons.

Good design chases more than clicks. It’s mindful of potential impact–whether economic, social, cultural, or environmental–and it’s mindful of that impact over time. There’s one simple test, according to Rob Girling and Emilia Palaveeva of the design consultancy Artefact: “Don’t just ask ‘how might we?’” they write, invoking a common term of art in design thinking. “Ask, ‘At what cost?’”

GOOD DESIGN IS SLOW

For the past 20 years, tech has embraced a “move fast and break things” mantra. That was fine when software had a relatively small impact on the world. But today, it shapes nearly every aspect of our lives, from what we read to whom we date to how we spend money–and it’s largely optimized to benefit corporations, not users. The stakes have changed, the methods haven’t.

Good design takes time. It favors long-term solutions over quick fixes. As Basecamp designer Jonas Downey Downey puts it: “Now it’s time to slow down and take stock of what’s broken.”

GOOD DESIGN IS HONEST

This is one of Rams’s tenets, but it bears repeating at a time when dark patterns abound and corporations treat UX like a weapon. Uber is the most flagrant example. The company built its business on a seamless front-end user experience (hail a ride, without ever pulling out your wallet!)) while playing puppet master with both users and drivers. The company’s fall from grace–culminating in CEO Travis Kalanick’s ousting last year–underscores the shortsightedness of this approach.

Good design “does not make a product more innovative, powerful or valuable than it really is,” Rams writes. “It does not attempt to manipulate the consumer with promises that cannot be kept.”

GOOD DESIGN IS POLITICAL

“If you work in software or design… you also work in politics.” That was British designer Richard Pope writing at the end of 2016 after the surprise election of Donald Trump, but the point remains relevant more than a year later: Politics is about the distribution of power, and few things distribute power more broadly and rapidly in the 21st century than code and design. Facebook’s role in shaping the outcome of the presidential election is one obvious example. But subtler examples are all over the place, from ads targeting men for higher paying jobs to predictive policing software that indicts black people more than white people.

Good design is upfront about its potential to shape the political landscape.

GOOD DESIGN IS MINDFUL OF SYSTEMS

Systems thinking is a lofty term for a relatively simple idea: Everything is connected, and designers and developers should strategize accordingly.  Systems thinking has taken on even greater import over the past few years, as the world becomes more complex and intertwined. Consider that we generate 2.5 quintillion bytes of data a year, more than 90% of which was created in just the past two years. Today, nearly half of all adults own a smartphone; by 2020, that figure is expected to rise to 80%.

Good design, then, is no longer about solving discrete problems: It’s about considering the sum of the parts. “The challenge is to rise above the distraction of the details and widen your field of vision,” writes Foundation Capital partner Steve Vassallo. “Try to see the whole world at once and make sense of it. It’s a heady challenge, but you either design the system or you get designed by the system.”

GOOD DESIGN IS GOOD WRITING

In his “2017 Design in Tech Report,” author John Maeda anointed writing as design’s newest unicorn skill. It’s easy to see why. With the rise of chatbots and conversational UI, writing is often the primary interface through which users interact with a product or service. (Siri’s dad jokes had to be written by someone.) But even designers who don’t work on interface copy should be able to articulate their ideas clearly. The better their writing, the better their chances of selling an idea.

GOOD DESIGN IS MULTIFACETED

The days of brands peddling a single identity are gone. The Emotional Intelligence Agency, a U.K.-based branding firm, analyzed the brands that more than 5,000 people said they sought out. The results were surprisingly consistent. Top brands, from Victoria’s Secret to Taco Bell, had four seemingly disparate traits: humor, usefulness, beauty, and inspiration. The takeaway? In an increasingly complex retail landscape, brands must adopt multifaceted personalities to connect emotionally with consumers.

GOOD DESIGN TAKES RISKS

Ideo studied more than 100 companies in an attempt to quantify innovation and came away with six key insights. Among them? Challenging the status quo has real business benefits. According to the study, chances of a failed product launch decreased by 16.67% when people felt comfortable acting with autonomy.

GOOD DESIGN IS FOR PEOPLE–AND MACHINES.

Historically, computers have been designed for human users. But as machines grow smarter and artificial intelligence takes root in people’s daily lives, designers will have to build for a new type of user: the human-machine hybrid. So suggests Normative CEO Matthew Milan, who argues that hybrids can do more than any person or computer could accomplish alone, like navigate traffic or compete in superpowered chess games.

Looking ahead, good design will help people trust a system–even when they know they don’t have much agency within it.

From FastCoDesign

12 DESIGN LEADERS SET NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS FOR 2018

From dedicating their skills to the underserved to political ambitions and intents to be focused, top design leaders share their New Year’s resolutions.

Source: 12 DESIGN LEADERS SET NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS FOR 2018