What a surprise! Just when he was ready to pay the customer took a final glance at the bill and noticed that the prices changed: not the 21 euro for the main dish, but 32,50; not the 9,50 for the dessert, but 15,80… Upon inquiring why the difference, he got a straight answer back – „the kitchen crew needed more time than planned and that’s why the costs have increased!“
As expected it came up right away: a call for strict separation of what is regarded as life (private), and what is regarded as work (vocational). As a reaction to my request to the audience – to reflect their level of customer-centricity between ‚zero‘ and ‚full‘ on a graph – somebody wanted to know if she had to reflect her opinion or the one of her employer: because that would be quite a difference!
It’s that time of the year again: the plants are just about to stick their heads out of the ground, and shop owners are already considering moving on from bikinis and sunglasses. The soil is still soaking wet and messy from winter, and the first optimists are running around in flip-flops! And the more you have experienced theses seasonal changes, the more you become aware that the seasons are way too short!
Did you never wonder why we have our eyes right next to each other and not, for example, one above the other, or one at the front and one at the back? The parallel arrangement obviously is evolution’s favorite. This genetically preferred eye-array has therefore influenced our behavior and the way we look at things: predominantly with a strong focus. That’s why we laugh at „Johnny Head-in-the-Air“, when he runs into a signpost or misses a turn, and regret the cow that doesn’t seem to notice the butcher right in front of her. We forced to take close notice of what is around us, and those who didn’t were eaten by predators and hence eliminated from our gene pool.
Do you have children? If not, no problem, because you might recall these yourself: the parent conference days! This ‘running-around-at-the-school-campus-and-looking-for-the-room’ where teachers are waiting for parents and their school-kids. Depending on the pupils’ ‘performance level’, the numbers of meetings were few or many and likewise torture or purely a matter of duty.
The room was slowly filling up with the employees. One after the other they took their seats and didn’t look too pleased: the speech that I was about to be holding did interrupt the longed-for transition from their dinner to a well-deserved drink at the bar! So this left me with the task to ensure that those snaring away during my talk would not animate the others to follow suit.
Our world is a system that contains many sub-systems: the oceans, the forests, the climate – all are complex, fragile, and well-calibrated organisms with a system character. If one of the parts is not running well, the others will suffer as well: one weak spot will influence the overall performance. Systems can repair themselves, once they are not running well – unless the weak spot is getting larger than the self-curing ability of the parts involved. Then the whole system can collapse: system failures are the most wicked problems around us.
Design came a long way: whereas in the beginning, it had a focus on ‘shaping’ artifacts, objects, and communication means, it eventually turned to products, thereafter software, services and nowadays to complete experiences. To conclude this process of dissolving into the immaterial, design now turns to the thinking! Design Thinking is design’s new top-notch discipline. The ‘designing’ happens solely inside the brain and therefore it’s solutions are (mainly) thoughts. This means that design is now also accessible to those who are all thumbs – provided that the brain involved can support the required thinking…
It was tough times for me, being a designer and being employed at a company that defined its reasoning based on financial indications, like turnover, gross margin, return on investment, and so on. Eventually also you, as a designer, have to define your reasoning according to such parameters. Unavoidably the question on the ‘return on investment’ (ROI) will pop-up, like “What do I get back for every Euro I spent on design? Tell me, what’s actually the ROI of design?”
The guys made a depressing impression, or maybe clueless when I joined them at the bar. They seemed to have all agreed on the fact that something was changing fundamentally – and that it would involve all of them.
But as much as they were in for a change, like in all those endless debates with clients and commissioners, the change happening right now was quite something different, and they didn’t had a clue how to deal with the situation: it seemed that their very existence was at stake!