Thursday, June 14, 2007

Bill Moggridge talk: Designing Interactions

I was struck by something Doors of Perception founder John Thackara said a few years ago - "We know what technology can do, but what is it for?" A guest lecture at Said Business School by IDEO co-founder, award-winning designer Bill Moggridge, provided possible answers, discussing many of the technologies which have become common or even essential in industrialized countries in the last 20 years.

This was our final Design Leadership MBA elective class, open not just to Said students but to the wider university, which I organized jointly with the James Martin Institute. Drawing on material from his recent book Designing Interactions Moggridge raised the issue of the increasing complexity in material world in the objects and networks around us and talke about how to draw on a range of expertises to create new products, services and experiences.

Showing a video of a woman trying to use her i-mode phone to buy a can of drink from a vending machine (it took 35 minutes) communicated clearly the impact of poor design. It reinforced the point we have explored in this MBA elective about the importance of attending to the artefacts through which end users/customers experience products and services. Moggridge's process recommendations for success to avoid what this user experienced include - of course - prototyping.

Describing what's necessary to enable innovation, Moggridge used the term "post-disciplinary design": "Forget your discipline when you're in the project room". He argued that there are three elements to successful innovation through design:
- interdisciplinary design thinking (what to do)
- specialist design skills (how to do it)
- and a general design awareness (how to choose).
For managers and entrepreneurs, I think this means they don't have to all rush off to design school but rather develop an awareness of the design approach (whether it's called design thinking or something else) and improve the organization's ability to make judgements about design.

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