I started an Instagram channel a while ago. I wanted to start generating an audience for my forthcoming course on Efficiency Through Motivation. I didn’t want to just post inspirational quotes; there are plenty of those channels already. What I wanted to do was to help people explore business architecture and strategy through asking questions of where they are at the moment. I’m using the images as the initial thought-provoker then writing related commentary, often in the form of prompting questions. Go have a look at EfficiencyThroughMotivation, does it work for you?
Actually, better than tell, how about you let me know what you think of the idea? Or even what stage of business you’re at at the moment, what are your struggles and how do you think you’ll be resolving them? You can reach me at Contact Us.
Whatever system, process, technology we’re implementing, shouldn’t we be designing for everyone? Or at least everyone in the target customer segment?
In the last couple of weeks, I’ve read a number of articles that have consolidated and made me reflect on my thinking about designing for disabilities and what counts as normal.
Having spent a number of years working in the health and social care sector, I’m well-versed in the practicalities of working with people with disabilities. But I still hate the phrase “people with disabilities” and every other similar phrase I’ve ever seen. I don’t like the word inclusion, not that I don’t like the concept itself, but that I don’t like that the concept has to exist. Hence the title of this article as “Designing for Everyone”.
What’s an average person?
I read The Atlantic’s article on how we’ve ended up with a definition of a normal person. That’s at the crux of a lot of the disparity that we can see in the thinking of a lot of designers; they design for the average person or people similar to themselves. By using the term designer here, I’m not necessarily thinking of an artist or a creative, but rather the person responsible for delivering a changed process, a changed organisation or a changed way of working. They may have a creative background, but often are from their own professional background, e.g. in the front-line work or a change management professional. Fortunately, a more creative influence is coming into the change profession, for example we’re seeing newer methodologies such as Design Thinking, Service Design and Inclusive Design.
The problem with most of these approaches is that they develop solutions for the average person. There may be several average people in the target. These personas should have been based on the likely customers that the service wants to attract/serve. But considering how many conditions and disabilities there are in the world, there’s no way to account for all of them. Instead, we’re back to averaging again and possibly some Pareto analysis to account for 80:20 of the target population. That still leaves 20% who are not included in the thinking behind the design.
And that’s part of the theme of the article; that by defining a normal, we start to react towards the average as the ideal and the non-average as divergent.
How can we be completely inclusive?
Microsoft have released their Inclusive Design toolkit. The start of the toolkit is a touch simplistic, especially if you’re worked in health and social care, but it gets interesting part-way through. I’m also aware that the beginning portion could still be a incredibly valuable education source for those not used to having think from this perspective. So for that reason alone, I’m grateful to Microsoft for having released it to the world.
But more than that, there are a few nuggets of quality information in that method that I haven’t seen written down anywhere else. I’ve had to reign in proposals by pointing out difficulties of interacting in the proposed manner, so the 2 points below resonate with me.
The first is the potential to abstract away from individual conditions and dis(abilities) to perform tasks and instead focus on the interact between the person, the technology and the environment. That way, you can focus on resolving issues or improving the interaction between the person and other people in the context of the environment and the technology used.
The second is that disabilities do not need to be permanent. There’s a description of a spectrum from permanent through temporary through to situational. And there are more people in situational or temporary with difficulties than with permanent disabilities.
I’ve cropped the slide here and clicking on the image will take you to Microsoft Design Practice.
How do we include views of everyone?
This is an old source for me, but one that I still point people to when they’re thinking of how to approach their change programme. Beware though, it only becomes inclusive if you included a wide range of people in the interviews and in the service design. It’s a concept of Experienced-Based Design that I’ve seen from the health sector. It’s the best example of a co-production/co-design methodology that I’ve seen.
Implementing changes for people with disabilities is difficult to achieve since you’re already on the back foot with that perspective. We can see this by the difficulties involved in making websites accessible when that’s been added as an afterthought. Instead, by bringing the focus on a more inclusive design up-front in the process, we have the opportunity to design changes that suit many more people.
Above, I’ve listed a few articles and methods that could help influence others around you. The main item to take away concerns perspective; anyone involved in change has to be able to shift perspective to include that of all customers in the target segment.
The terms innovation and invention are thrown around with abandon. This is rife in the startup domain where the innovation is often relating to a business model and in ageing corporations where innovation is being used to revitalise the organisation. But when is it innovation? Or could we actually be thinking of invention, improvement or creation instead? Continue reading “When is it Innovation?”
I’m increasingly seeing clients with innovation spaces and I’m seeing more of them on social media/news channels where companies are outfitting office spaces with fun decorations and repurposed objects (e.g. tuk-tuks as meeting spaces). This concept of an innovation space has been introduced to change the way that employees generate solutions.
What’s the problem?
The problem with this is a belief that innovation is a space, i.e. create a non-conformist space and label it as your innovation. Then expect magic to happen. But the magic doesn’t happen.
Here’s the truth, you can introduce innovation in a windy portakabin. It’s not comfortable (and that breaks one of the rules I’ll mention later), but it can be done.
You don’t need fake grass carpets, slinky springs, koosh balls, nerf guns or whatever else is hip at the time your innovation designers come into your organisation. Those things could help, but they don’t guarantee innovation.
Where does innovation come from?
Innovation comes from within the collective mind. No, I’m not getting all new-age here, I referring to the effect you achieve when you put people in a room together, remove some boundaries, give them a task and prompt with them with different perspectives. Continue reading “Innovation is not a Space”