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5 Provocations for Boston University's Aspiring Planning Types, November 2013
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5 Provocations for Boston University's Aspiring Planning Types, November 2013



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  • 1. Five provocations for Boston University’s aspiring planning types ! Ian Fitzpatrick 20 November 2013
  • 2. Hello. My name is Ian. ! Principal / Chief Strategy Officer, Almighty Mentor, TechStars Mentor, Harvard Innovation Lab @ianfitzpatrick
  • 3. I am not a planner. Sorry about that.
  • 4. Provocation One: Take circuitous routes
  • 5. How I got here: ! 1994 - 1997 student of philosophy 1997 - 1999 founder, Unwrapped 1998 - 2000 music journalism 1999 - 2000 design at Mattel 2000 - 2004 production at Euro RSCG 2004 - 2013 founder, Almighty
  • 6. “Forget trying to pass for normal. Follow your geekdom. Embrace nerditude. In the immortal words of Lafcadio Hearn, a geek of incredible obscurity whose work is still in print after a hundred years, “Woo the muse of the odd.” You may be a geek. You may have geek written all over you. You should aim to be one geek they’ll never forget. Don’t aim to be civilized. Don’t hope that straight people will keep you on as some sort of pet. To hell with them. You should fully realize what society has made of you and take a terrible revenge. Get weird. Get way weird. Get dangerously weird. Get sophisticatedly, thoroughly weird, and don’t do it halfway. Put every ounce of horsepower you have behind it. Don’t become a well-rounded person. Well-rounded people are smooth and dull. Become a thoroughly spiky person. Grow spikes from every angle. Stick in their throats like a pufferfish.” - Bruce Sterling
  • 7. You don’t just wake up interesting, or interested, one day. ! You have to cultivate both through experiences.
  • 8. Provocation Two: Fall in love with people
  • 9. Robert Moses, systems guy.
  • 10. Who was this designed for?
  • 11. It has never been easier or less-expensive to learn about what people do, want and need.
  • 12. Caveat: Falling in love with people is not the same as fetishizing individuals.
  • 13. Provocation Three: Design for Networks
  • 14. Get to know Metcalfe’s Law. ! The value of a network is proportional to the square of the number of connected users within it.
  • 16. Provocation Four: Believe (deeply) in something
  • 17. GDS Design Principles: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. ! Start with needs Do less Design with data Do the hard work to make it simple Iterate. Then iterate again. Build for inclusion Understand context Build digital services, not websites Be consistent, not uniform Make things open: it makes things better ( photo by Mike Bracken )
  • 18. Almighty Design Principles: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. Work at the intersection of the physical and the digital, because that’s where people live their lives. Begin with the needs of the people we’re building for. Create lightweight experiences that can be understood in any sequence in which they’re encountered. Provide value to the network first, then to ourselves. Give people something to act upon and add to. Design measurement into the experiences we create, rather than just measuring outcomes. Plan for learning, iteration and (often) abandonment. Consider sharing and mobility defaults, not features. Design with a plan to deepen usage, not just grow it.
  • 19. What if more companies built their products, services & experiences on a foundation of guiding principles?
  • 20. Provocation Five: Fuel new ways of working, not just new ways to sell things
  • 21. Prepare yourself for a career in which the companies you work for will necessarily re-invent themselves every 3-5 years.
  • 22. Find new inputs: Eschew PSFK. Stop seeing Ad-shaped problems*. Hang out with people who don’t work in advertising. ! * Martin Weigel’s words
  • 23. Understand the difference between ideas and stuff. Hint: most of what you read is stuff, and can safely be ignored or picked up at a later date.
  • 24. Catalog your beliefs: Write them down. Be completely subjective. Know what they mean for the work you do.
  • 25. Make your own tools: Learn to code.
  • 26. Thanks. @ianfitzpatrick deck & notes at bit.ly/18KGoBH
  • 27. Endnotes 1. Almighty is where I work. You should also follow us on Twitter. 2. Beyond the Beyond, Bruce Sterling’s blog for Wired is worth your time. 3. Zeus Jones, brilliant agency in Minneapolis. While you’re at it, check out the slides from ZJ partner Adrian Ho’s talk from Cannes this year. 4. Robert Moses is worth learning about. If you’re interested in the Moses/Jacobs conflict, 99% Invisible had a great piece on it this week. 5. Metcalfe’s Law is worth committing to memory. If you want to go deep with it, Kevin Kelly has a brilliant piece on extending the way you consider the Fax Effect. 6. If you’re interested in the New Balance Nationals, this is a good case study. 7. You should spend some time getting familiar with the UK’s Government Digital Service and their wonderful design principles. 8. I could bombard you with links to Martin Weigel & his rant on ad shaped problems. I’m also really partial to his How to (Not) Fail deck. ! Also, read these: 1. John Willshire is as spiky as they come in 2013. His ‘Are Brands Fracking the Social Web?’ is genius stuff. 2. Convergence Culture, by Henry Jenkins 3. Welcome to the Creative Age, by Mark Earls 4. Fooled by Randomness, by Nassim Taleb 5. Advice for a Young Investigator, by Santiago Ramon y Cajal 6. The Mind of the Strategist, by Kenichi Ohmae 7. Massive Change, by Bruce Mau