Luke visits CHIFOO

Another chance to see Luke Wroblewski talk in Portland on the heels of his earlier session at WebVisions. His focus tonight was “The Shifting Role of Design” which dealt with the role of design in the strategic definition of products. Design is maturing beyond simply “icing the cake” to being a leader in innovation.

Luke spoke of design thinking as the ability to tell a story that grows from empathy and vision in an iterative manner. Empathy to design with an eye and ear for the user — the ability to internalize real world situations. Vision through abductive thinking to keep an open mind for what could be and building a framework for growth and possibilities. Iteration to grow the story from possibility to reality via an evolution of trial and error and prototyping.

In my world I see creatives hampered with an overload of work and with direction that often does not include their imaginative powers to define a story. They need to be at the table when the concepts are first taking shape to best leverage their expertise. Often a concept is defined too well by the time the creatives see it and, by then, the ability to influence the path is curtailed by deadlines, lack of conceptual awareness and the reluctance to modify what many already have a vested interest in.

Luke speaks well of the increasing overlap between the business, people and technology components of developing a product. For success their needs to be deep integration between the components. I believe that around us we see many success stories in businesses where their is leadership made up of people that can talk and walk across these functional areas and they understand how each impacts the other. Within these relationships Luke discusses “crowdsourcing” as an impact on business and people where the public becomes a source for marketable content either freely or in a low-cost environment. “Fab labs” are impacting business and technology with much reduced costs for prototype development. Associated here we also see low entry costs for technology infrastructure.

Overall, another enjoyable and rewarding session. You too can enjoy the session by visiting Luke’s site. Luke won out over the Harry Potter opening night for this group of Portlanders enjoying this CHIFOO session but, alas, I did not take the opportunity to introduce myself to Luke personally — perhaps the social equivalent of purposely choosing to eat an ear wax flavored Bertie Botts Every Flavor Bean since he linked to my previous entry on his WebVisions talk.

Suggested resources:

Luke also reference the Apple Knowledge Navigator, the 1987 Apple concept product, featured in a five-minute video sporting many features we now take for granted. If you have time you can also take a corny “look into the future” with Sun from 1992.