Live from FUSE 2013: Day one: Wake up to Design Thinking.

Day one : For your reading enjoyment. 

We had a handful of speakers this morning. Here are some of the interesting elements to take back to the office and summarize for your team – so they know something of what you learned on this trip to Chicago. More to come.

8:30 // John Silva got it started with a discussion on empathy and the balance of looking at the world through the empathetic lens. He made a point of contrast between big data and big empathy. He also left us with a sad but thoughtful comment on the use of technology leading to “being alone, together.”

9:00 // Tina Zinter-Chahin from Fisher-Price was up next and she had some marvelous points. They hired six partners to help design a future of opportunities for their brands. They did this through a process of simplification and more insightful focus on mom and her children. The results were interesting, the removal of a large bucket of sub-brands, the simplification of packaging, the new focus on mom’s friends and her social circles, and the thoughtful focus on product design philosophies. But, the process was likely the more valuable for this audience. The Bain group (one of the six partners) actually engaged with the director level, Tina’s subordinates, in order to get closer to the challenges, not typical but more fruitful.

9:45 // Sonia Whitely and Sarah Dear led us away from a “Good Better Best” way of thinking and in the direction of a more engaging design to relieve audiences from their anxieties. While they really didn’t fulfill on the implied promise of the title, the stories had some nice visual candy.

The two most important points to me seemed to be Morrison’s focus on the craft of meats and their way of delivering a unique form of meat to their store. Having a university isn’t a new thing, but the way Morrison’s does it seemed to build the craft and encompass the entire shopping experience. The second was the M Kitchen starting with a corporate office remodel to put the kitchen at the center of the office. It would be obvious to aliens. How would a grocer not have the kitchen central to their office? But it is how things are sometimes. Offices might not be designed to match the most important thing to the brand / business / organization. Impressively done.

11:00 // Scott Power, Senior Brand Strategist, Kaiser Permanente really took the content up a notch. He spoke on how Kaiser implemented Sonic Guidelines for their gargantuan organization. Scott told an extremely fascinating story which had the limitation of time, but the depth of music to aid the audience. We got to see a bit inside a conservative organization and an innovation not common in many businesses, conservative or not. The focus was on how music improves, impacts and influences a patient experience. The results were amazing and the audience could tell Scott was a hero returning from the frontier telling a tale with appropriate brevity. If you are using music, this story should push you further to a better place. If you’re not using music in your experience, this story should get you off the sofa and into using music to influence a consumer experience. Thank you Scott, great presentation.

11:45 // Panel discussion on interaction design replacing branding was heavy with intellect in the white chairs. The group was led by Cliff of Fast Company and included Jenny Ji from Path (my favorite alternative to Facebook) Robert from Frog design and Suzanne from Power2Switch.

The group started by knocking on the door of “advertising as branding” which it is not, but often is confused as such. Brands are driven by interactions, digital and physical. The group has a background in designing interactions and it makes for some insightful comments on design in UX. The intention was good and the idea got through to me, but sometimes we get hung up on using old words to describe new things and vice versa. And, the group certainly hit hard on the mass advertising mentality. In the end, the group seemed to stop knocking and left a medieval axe. This was a thoughtful discussion and marvelous facilitation by Cliff Kuang of Fast Company.

Thank you,

Aaron Keller
Managing Principal



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