The Conscious Economy

Ard Jacobs & Rob van Kasteren –

What are the capacities of a designer contributing to the ability to envision a future scenario and develop innovative products & services that enable people to progress towards a state of increased well-being? –

Paradigm Shift towards the Conscious Economy

This visual presentation of the paradigm shift towards the ‘conscious’ economy is a an envisioned future value proposition which is based on multiple references (please refer to the reference list below) with a clear focus on the values that are close related to our own visions on design.

Positioning Statement:

“ We interpret what people value most in life … and design experiences accordingly.”

Strategy:

Over the past decades, the applicable field of an industrial designer has excitingly grown from designing function and style, towards a more holistic design scope, in which the real & vivid context of people’s lives are the central theme. The capacities of an industrial designer, have therefore also transposed. Whereas in the industrial age, designers were primarily concerned with product functionality and mass production, they are currently designing for complex, nonutilitarian properties, such as the notion of meaning. In order to adhere to such difficult-to-grasp demands, designers no longer design products. Instead, they design experiences, embodied by products, services or systems, and facilitated by interaction.

 

Designing experiences means understanding what activities people enjoy doing, and why. It means investigating what constitutes a person’s life – what are his values and aspirations.

“People like to talk about themselves!” ~ Mark Hassenzahl

Stories people tell, inherently describe their lives and why they do things. Therefore, designers need to engage in a dialogue, to gain insights and interpret them as opportunities for design. Through training, designers have developed the capacity to envision. Envisioning future scenarios in the context of people’s lives, the subject of a person with his entire background, and the reasons why people act in a certain way.

Envisioning means anticipating what is to come. Which, from a business perspective, provides opportunities to be innovative and potentially leading in certain market segments. However, future scenarios should be informed, anticipated by the past, and by symptoms of the present. And based on changing paradigms, designers should continuously ask themselves, ‘what do people value most in life?’.

Anticipated opportunities for design consist of multiple aspects. That is, the domain a company designs for, the aspirations of people within that domain, the experience they want to trigger, and the platform they will provide that enables the experience. Together with firms, designers can develop such future scenarios into ideas & concepts that anticipate on future requests. When these concepts comply with the firm’s strategy, they should be embodied through an iterative process of design and validation and should exist of a number of aspects. A functional design explaining the core workings of the product, service or system. Wireframes illustrating its possible interactions. And storyboards (which can be videos) explaining the product, service or system in its envisioned context of use.

Currently, people are increasingly aware of their wellbeing, both on personal and collective level. They care about happiness, health and prosperity in a local and global sense. This wellbeing, or quality of life, is not so much measured in materialism, but in stead by achieving personal goals, having enjoyable experiences, establishing honest and meaningful relationships, and positively contributing to society and the environment. It is, in essence, creating a better position for ourselves and future generations, while at the same time enjoying what we have.

This of course, sounds rather idealistic, but actually emerges from an increased sense of realism and awareness on current global social-environmental issues. People better understand the mayor pitfalls of our consumer society and the impact it has on the world. In addition, they become increasingly sceptic about the way peers and companies present themselves and their motives.

“Only 20% of brands are having a positive impact on our sense of wellbeing and quality of life. ~ Havas Media, 2011

The quest for increased wellbeing can be defined as a ‘journey’ towards a better situation, starting right now, in the current state (A), and progressively moving towards the desired state (B), over a defined period of time (Δt). The goal, in this equation, is eventually to be happier, healthier, better at something, or to have participated in the process of decreasing negative environmental impact.

Designers, in this context, need to find ways to attract people to participate, and motivate them to stay engaged.

Consumer perspective: “If I keep doing this, I will achieve better results, I will be happier or I will feel better about myself and the world I live in.”

Company perspective: “The longer people spend being loyal to our product, service or system, the more profit we will make.”

In order to achieve this, we have to understand what drives people to engage in this journey towards increased quality of life. It is progression.

Companies should herein focus not so much on providing consumers with tools, but they should rather define business models that constructively guide and support consumers in their journey. And they should find ways to: attract them to their service, challenge them to stay engaged, and reward them for their efforts.

Rewarding people, in this scenario, means providing positive feedback on their progression, participation or contribution – motivating people to act. Motivation should be realized by means of challenges and goals that provide a sense of meaningful achievements. Meaningful here is referring to the affect of increased quality of life.

“The consumer end-goal may not be clearly visible, as long as each consecutive sub-goal is … which, by increasing the number of sub-goals, enables continuous consumer loyalty & profit. ~ Gabe Zichermann, 2011

Designers, in particular experience- and interaction designers, are trained in defining such values & goals, and translating them into meaningful, worthwhile experiences through designing products, services and systems that stimulate manageable progression.

In order for this principle to be effective, these carriers should also provide consumers with physical ‘touch-points’, which reflect achievements and (virtual) rewards. These touch-points can be web-based, interactive (networked) products or devices, or human representatives. By combining the key aspects of this principle, companies will be able build constructive continuous relationships with a growing number of customers.


Mission Statement:

“We design products, services & systems that enable progression throughout the journey towards increased quality of life, by offering meaningful carriers, combined with rich and aesthetic interaction.”

Appendix

Inspiration

Realism vs Idealism – Fotoshop by Adobé

Employement & Outsourcing – iPhone Economy, New York Times

Consumer Participation, Crowd Funding – Kickstarter

References

[1] Verganti, R., 2009, Design-Driven Innovation: Changing the Rules of Competition by Radically Innovating what Things Mean, Harvard Business Press.

[2] Brand, R. & Rocchi, S., 2011, Rethinking value in a changing landscape: A model for strategic reflection and business transformation, A Philips Design paper

[3] Hummels, C. & Vinke, D., 2009, Eindhoven Design – volume two – Developing the Competence of Designing Intelligent Systems.

[4] ‘Topeconoom Rifkin: ‘Niemand ziet de crisis die komt’’, Éen Vandaag, [online].[s.l.: Eenvandaag.nl, December 12th 2009. [Cited February 29th 2012]. Available from the World Wide Web: <http://www.eenvandaag.nl/binnenland/35444/topeconoom_rifkin_niemand_ziet_de_crisis_die_komt_>

[5] ‘Gabe Zicherman: ‘Gamification – The New Loyalty’’, Vimeo, [online].[s.l.: Vimeo.com, June 28th 2011. [Cited March 1st 2012]. Available from the World Wide Web: <http://vimeo.com/25714530>

[6] ‘March 2012 Trend Briefing: ‘Flawsome – Why brands that behave more humanly, including showing their flaws, will be awesome’, TrendWatching, [online].[s.l.: Trendwatching.com, March 2012. [Cited March 5th 2012]. Available from the World Wide Web: <http://trendwatching.com/briefing/>

[7] Havas Media: Brand Vision, Havas Media, [online].[s.l.: Havasmedia.com, March 2012. [Cited March 6th 2012]. Available from the World Wide Web: <http://www.havasmedia.com/our-thinking/watch/>

[8] ‘Moneyball’, 2011, movie based on the book; Lewis, M., 2003, Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game

[9] Heatherly, C., ‘Playing moneyball with game play’, Design Mind, [online].[s.l.: Designmind.frogdesign.com, February 13th 2012. [Cited March 6th 2012]. Available from the World Wide Web: <http://designmind.frogdesign.com/blog/playing-moneyball-with-game-play.html>

[10] Felce, D. & Perry, J., ‘Quality of Life: Its definition and measurement’, SciVerse, [online].[s.l.: sciencedirect.com, December 22th 1999. [Cited March 7th 2012]. Available from the World Wide Web: <http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0891422294000288>

[11] Lowgren, J. & Hassenzahl, M. – Interaction Design, [online].[s.l.: Interaction-design.org, June 2008. [Cited March 7th 2012]. Available from the World Wide Web: <http://www.interaction-design.org/encyclopedia/interaction_design.html>

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