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“A Benchmark Anchored in Reality Forces You to Articulate a Clear Point of View About What’s Truly Important”

"A Benchmark Anchored in Reality Forces You to Articulate a Clear Point of View About What’s Truly Important" | rethinked.org

“Always going back to a benchmark anchored in reality forces you to articulate a clear point of view about what’s truly important.” – Diego Rodriguez

I found this excellent insight from IDEO‘s Diego Rodriguez as his contribution to LinkedIn’s Best Advice series. Recounting a time at IDEO when his team had produced a wide array of dazzling prototypes, Rodiguez shares how they felt stuck in deciding which one to select:

IDEO founder David Kelley strolled by to say hello and to watch us demonstrate our ideas. He listened patiently as we explained our dilemma, and responded with one simple question: “What’s the best alternative available to people today? Choose compared to that.”

Behind David’s powerful question is the best innovation advice I’ve ever received:

Compare to reality, not to some imaginary standard of perfection.

The truth was that even our least amazing prototype was miles ahead of the competition. It also happened to be the simplest concept, and the one that most tightly addressed the actual needs we’d heard from people we had interviewed and observed. Even if it didn’t fulfill our fantasies of perfection, we chose that option as the way forward, and we ended up nailing it: our award-winning design sold like hotcakes. Fifteen years later, it’s still in production, making people happy.

This is a key insight which speaks to one of the core tenets of design thinking: that the solution be created from a point of deep empathy and understanding so that it truly serves the need of the target audience, not the ego of the designer.

Some say that rooting your choices in reality is a sure path to mediocrity, but nothing could be further from the truth. Dedicating yourself to understanding what people really want — how they’ll experience a product in the real world — forces you to get away from your desk and make a tangible difference. Instead of just talking about a grand paradise of what might be, putting in the effort to understand people’s day-to-day lives, and then actually producing something that works, is what separates a true innovation from a merely good idea.

Great innovators dream, but they are also relentless about comparing those dreams to the real world, and acting accordingly.

Source: Best Advice: Want to Achieve Excellence? Compare Ideas to Reality

Human-Centered Design for Social Innovation ~ Free 5 Week Course Brought To You By Acumen & IDEO.org

Rethinkers rejoice, here’s a great new learning opportunity brought to you by Acumen and IDEO.org ~ a free five-week online course focusing on Human-Centered Design for Social Innovation.

Human-Centered Design for Social Innovation is a five-week course that will introduce you to the concepts of human-centered design and help you use the design process to create innovative, effective, and sustainable solutions for social change. No prior design experience necessary.

Please note that registration for the course ends on July 3rd and that you must register as a team of at least two. Team members must be in the same location as you will need to be able to physically meet for workshops.

Learn more about the course & register here.

Human-Centered Design for Social Innovation from IDEO.org on Vimeo.

If anyone in NYC is interested in forming a team for the course, please let me know in the comments section below or send me an email at elsa@rethinked.org.

Friday Link Fest…*

 

READ

7 Design Principles, Inspired By Zen Wisdom ~  Primer outlining the main tenets of Zen Design. via FastCo.Design, published April 12, 2013.

Bruce Nussbaum: Creative Innovation Through Meaningful Design ~ Setting up design in terms of the existential takes you to a different set of concepts, like aura and engagement. via PSFK, published April 12, 2013.

The Next Big UI Idea: Gadgets That Adapt To Your Skill ~ How designers can use the fundamentals of video games and the psychological principles of flow to design enhanced user experiences. via FastCo.Design, published March 26, 2013.

Black Men’s College Success Depends on Grit, Not Just Grades, Study Finds ~ via Education Week, published April 12, 2013.

Your Phone vs. Your Heart ~ When you share a smile or laugh with someone face to face, a discernible synchrony emerges between you, as your gestures and biochemistries, even your respective neural firings, come to mirror each other. It’s micro-moments like these, in which a wave of good feeling rolls through two brains and bodies at once, that build your capacity to empathize as well as to improve your health. via New York Times, published March 23, 2013.

Go Ahead, Take a Failure Bow ~ via Harvard Business Review, published April 17, 2013.

The Joke’s on Louis C.K. ~ via New York Times, published April 4, 2013.

How to Be a Citizen Placemaker: Think Lighter, Quicker, Cheaper ~ via Project for Public Spaces, published April 7, 2013.

How Reframing A Problem Unlocks Innovation ~ Taking a different perspective can lead to stunning breakthroughs in any industry, writes Tina Seelig in inGenius: A Crash Course on Creativity. via FastCo.Design, published April 19, 2013.

What the Brain Can Tell Us About Art ~ via New York Times, published April 12, 2013.

Why We Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow ~ Embodied cognition or how we make sense of abstract ideas by matching them to physical sensations and things our body knows. via Business Week, published April 17, 2013.

Transforming Education According to the Needs of the Human Soul ~ The most interesting questions do not happen under the rubric of literature, or indeed, of history.  It’s time to rearrange departments and academic teaching according to the issues that they are dealing with. via Big Think, published April 11, 2013.

Creativity in Schools: What Countries Do (Or Could Do) ~ via Education Week, published April 11, 2013.

WATCH

How to Create a Workplace People Never Want to Leave, by Google’s Christopher Coleman via Business Week, published April 11, 2013.

 

LOOK

Designer Creates The Idea Alphabet, An Idea In An Alphabet ~ via Design Taxi, published April 14, 2013.

The Imagination of Playgrounds ~ via Design Observer, published April 14, 2013.

Document Deep Dive: What Was on the First SAT? ~ via Smithsonian Magazine, published April 12, 2013.

Forensic Artist Proves Women Literally Don’t Know Their Own Beauty ~ via FastCo.Create, published April 16, 2013.

Rethinking…* what it Means to “Know Thyself” ~ Cognitive Empathy as the Great Art Form of the Age of Outrospection

“I think we need to think about bringing empathy into our every day lives in a very sort of habitual way. Socrates said that the way we live a wise and good life was to know thyself. And we’ve generally thought of that as being about being self-reflective, looking in at ourselves. It’s been about introspection. But I think, in the 21st century, we need to recognize that to know thyself is something that can also be achieved by stepping outside yourself, by discovering other people’s lives. And I think empathy is the way to revolutionize our own philosophies of life, to become more outrospective and to create the revolution of human relationships that I think we so desperately need.”

In this RSA Animate video, philosopher Roman Krznaric urges us to rethink…* our definition of “knowing thyself” by shifting our frame of reference from the 20th century notion of introspection to one of outrospection: “the idea of discovering who you are and what do to with your life by stepping outside yourself, discovering the lives of other people, other civilizations.” Krznaric identifies cognitive empathy–perspective taking, which is about understanding somebody else’s worldview, their beliefs, their fears, the experiences that shape how they look at the world and how they look at themselves–as the great art form of outrospection and the catalyst for revolutions of human relationships. The video walks you through the concept of outrospection while providing ideas on how to develop your own empathic capacity (hint: nurture your curiosity!) and how to live one’s life as a great empathic adventurer. The video is a mere ten minutes long and worth every second, but in case you don’t have time to view it just yet, I’ve transcribed my favorite quotes from it, which should give you a good general idea of what outrsopection is and how it can help us rethink…* and enhace our lives and relationships.

 theRSAorg on YouTube, published December 3, 2012

Instead of the age of introspection, we need to shift to the age of outrospection. And by outrospection I mean the idea of discovering who you are and what do to with your life by stepping outside yourself, discovering the lives of other people, other civilizations. And the ultimate art form for the age of outrospection is empathy.

[…] empathy can be part of the art of living; a philosophy of life. Empathy isn’t just something that expands your moral universe, empathy is something that can make you a more creative thinker, improve your relationships, can create the human bonds that make life worth living. But more than that, empathy is also about social change, radical social change.

A lot of people think of empathy as a sort of nice, soft, fluffy concept. I think it’s anything but that. I think it’s actually quite dangerous because empathy can create revolution. Not one of those old-fashioned revolutions of new states, policy, governments, laws, but something much more viral and dangerous, which is a revolution of human relationships.

Cognitive empathy, which is about perspective taking, about stepping into somebody else’s world—almost like an actor looking through the eyes of their character. It’s about understanding somebody else’s worldview, their beliefs, their fears, the experiences that shape how they look at the world and how they look at themselves.

We make assumptions about people; we have prejudices about people, which block us from seeing their uniqueness, their individuality. We use labels and highly empathic people get beyond that, or get beyond those labels, by nurturing their curiosity about others.

Highly empathic people tend to be very sensitive listeners; they’re very good at understanding what somebody else’s need are. They tend to also be people who, in conversation, share parts of their own lives, make conversations two-way dialogues, make themselves vulnerable.

Now, we normally think of empathy as something that happens between individuals. But I also believe it can be a collective force, it can happen on a mass scale. When I think of history, I think not of the rise and fall of civilizations and religions or political systems; I think of the rise and fall of empathy: moments of mass empathic flowering and also, of course, of empathic collapse.

I think we need new social institutions, we need, for example, empathy museums—a place, which is not about dusty exhibits, not like and old Victorian museum, but an experiential and conversational public space where you might walk in and in the first room there is a human library, where you can borrow people for conversations. You walk into the next room and there are twenty sewing machines and there are former Vietnamese sweatshop workers there who will teach you how to make a T-shirt, like the one you’re probably wearing, under sweatshop labor conditions and you’ll be paid five pence at the end of it so you understand the labor behind the label. You may well go into the café and scan in your food and discover the working conditions of those who picked the coffee beans in the drink that you’re drinking. You may see a video of them talking about their lives, trying to make a connection across time and space into realms that you don’t know about.

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