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How to create the future of things (Part II or “How to do it based on real life examples”)

I said I would share a couple of concrete examples about what I consider a genuine way to create the future of something. Here they are. Opinions accepted.

The “future” of

The other day I read an article describing the future of Design Thinking (DT). Currently, customer is just included in certain steps of DT to create solutions (watch The Explainer: Design Thinking). The future, according to the author, would be the participation of the customer in such process from A to Z. In other words, a full participation.

Just, after saying this, the author gave an actual example citing a case in a major city in the USA where such future was applied to solve a problem. While reading it, I immediately thought:

If there is already a real example about it, how come this to be  the future?

If any, this could be the state of the art of Design Thinking (read Part I: How to create the future of things). It was an improved process, but with the same principles behind. Ironically, one of the three stages of the Design Thinking process is precisely Invent a future. This stage basically says “find what customers need, but don’t have”.

So, this future of design thinking does not sound to me as such.

And I’ve noticed the same trend with other topics:

Screen Shot 2017-03-16 at 4.35.15 PM

I am not saying it was not interesting to know this revised Design Thinking process. But I was expecting to read about a new proposal related to Design Thinking, one which put the principles of it on the table, play with them, challenge them and maybe come up not with a revised process but with a hole new concept of it.

By the future of something I would expect to read something different. Let’s play a little bit.

Suppose that 10 years ago, you read an article like this:

The future of taxi service 

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Maybe this is how the UBER guys brainstormed their service while thinking about it (maybe). An article like this would be completely talking about the future of taxi service. A service which would not exist at the moment.

It would not be talking about taxis with screens in the back of the seat, for you to check your emails. Or about a luxury car with an elegant driver. It would be foreseeing a whole new way to think about taxi service and would be challenging principles such as service, trust, timing, security, business unit.

Think about Uber or Airbnb. These services revolutionized completely their niche because they challenged the whole concept of taxi and hospitality service.

Roger L. Martin (read this) mentions that “the logic we use to understand the world as it is can hinder us when we seek to understand the world as it could be”. He says that we need to design new ways of talking about ideas and exploring the future. Otherwise, innovations will never be embraced by organizations and by the world.

Language matters, because it frames our ideas and viceversa. We need to start talking differently, in order to think differently. It is a cycle.

Next time you think about the future of something, let’s say your job or hobby, follow the next checklist to start:

  • What are the principles behind it?
  • What is it for?
  • What does it need, that does not exist?
  • What do I (or others) need from it?
  • What elements from other fields would be helpful to make it better?By better I mean user-friendlier, more efficient or cheaper. Do not think about something shinny or more luxurious. 

So, why don’t we try again?

How do you imagine the future of your career? of your job? of your hobby?

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