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IxDA Interaction19 Seattle - Envisioning Our Demise to Prevent Our Extinction - Future of the Future - anthonydpaul


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Learn how GE Transportation’s innovation lab is using speculative doomsday design fiction to preserve industries and workforces who are resistant to change.

The design thinking process is increasingly criticized for conservatism and maintaining status quo, despite its popularization for collaborative change-making. At all levels, we admittedly craft idealistic user journeys, brand experiences, and business outcomes as design objectives, sidestepping the realistic challenges we, our products, and our users will face. As interface designers, we actively ignore the impending disruption of human work by automation, bots, and artificial intelligence. As organizational problem solvers, our scope of vision rarely zooms out to observe economies and markets shifting, dying, and being born. As dreamers and innovators, we focus on the value-creating dream for our creations, and have a hard time imagining their risk of weaponization.

At GE Transportation, our futurism research team is a steward for the railroad and adjacent industries who’ve been “doing it this way” for centuries. Our customers and their departments alienate one other as competitors, matching projects and resources to small-picture pain points that woefully and naively leave the surrounding global and industry changes unaddressed—changes that, if left ignored, will result in the extinction of their market, workforce, and relevance. Our team shapes politically-charged partnerships, aligned industry visions, and intentional roadmaps into the future.

In this talk, I’ll give you a renewed understanding of the importance of design context and a fresh look at how a healthy culture of the apocalypse can sharpen your design strategies, rally your stakeholders and decision-makers, and drive bigger picture innovation that trickles actionable guidance down to day-to-day projects. Attendees will walk away with tangible activities for integrating speculative doomsday design fiction into their individual decisions and co-creative conversations.

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IxDA Interaction19 Seattle - Envisioning Our Demise to Prevent Our Extinction - Future of the Future - anthonydpaul

  1. 1. Anthony D Paul, GE Transportation’s Innovation Lab Envisioning our demise, to prevent our extinction. @anthonydpaul
  2. 2. Unprecedented risk of disruption @anthonydpaul
  3. 3. Veteran workforce retirement cliff 3 @anthonydpaul
  4. 4. Driverless long-range electric trucks 4 @anthonydpaul
  5. 5. Walmazons as logistics providers 5 @anthonydpaul
  6. 6. Aerial, terrestrial, and aquatic drones 6 @anthonydpaul
  7. 7. Multi-century industries who founded empires 7 @anthonydpaul
  8. 8. Multi-century industries who founded empires 8 @anthonydpaul “We’ve been doing it this way hundreds of years.” “Labor unions won’t let us.” “Grandfathered government regulations aren’t fair.” “We don’t have budget for that.” “Shareholders demand 
 quarterly profits.” “They’re a competitor.” “We can’t move that fast.”
  9. 9. As if that’s not enough to work on… 9 @anthonydpaul climate change robots versus humans ethics and concerns China/US trade tensions cyberterrorism
  10. 10. For example… 10 @anthonydpaul 90% of global shipping volume is by sea, across 3,700+ maritime ports. Sea levels are rising. see: NOAA Sea Level Rise Viewer
  11. 11. 11 @anthonydpaul What’s the point of redesigning an app if the port will be flooded?
  12. 12. What’s the point of redesigning an app if the port will be flooded? Why save human jobs if we’ll all have robots and UBI? 12 @anthonydpaul
  13. 13. What’s the point of redesigning an app if the port will be flooded? 13 @anthonydpaul Why save human jobs if we’ll all have robots and UBI? Besides, aren’t we all moving to Mars to grow potatoes with our poop?
  14. 14. This is why we’re here 14 I’m Anthony D. Paul and I manage a team of futurists, explorers, and hackers at GE Transportation’s Innovation Lab in Atlanta, GA. We travel the world to learn and exploit the fears of the workforce, to convince competitors to become partners and inspire the resistance to become supporters. We work to prevent extinction. @anthonydpaul
  15. 15. Today I’ll share four techniques to define and align the vision of independent organizations, teams, and people—to enable unified evolution. 15 @anthonydpaul 1. Use contrast for impactful stories. 2. Design for stress cases. 3. Build upon conversations and aggregate research. 4. Map dependencies to sell the boring stuff.
  16. 16. 16 @anthonydpaul Use contrast for impactful stories.1of 4
  17. 17. Nancy Duarte’s new bliss 17 In her TED talk, she dissects the hidden structure of persuasive speeches, including MLK’s “I have a dream” and Steve Jobs’ iPhone debut. They build tension by toggling the dismal current state versus the “new bliss.” @anthonydpaul see:
  18. 18. Workshop activities 18 Collect all fears and known drivers for change, then score them by impact and variability (uncertainty). Turn high impact and volatile drivers into playgrounds for ideation—survivalism and innovation opportunities. @anthonydpaul see: the impact and uncertainty matrix
  19. 19. Driving change 19 When sharing design concepts, use the scary stories as contrast, rather than relying only on value points. Discuss what is being prevented as well as what is being introduced. @anthonydpaul
  20. 20. 20 @anthonydpaul Design for stress cases.2 of 4
  21. 21. Eric Meyer’s stress cases 21 In his WordCamp talk on designing for real life, he references an auto insurance app promoting the “request a quote” CTA. The real world is broken down on the side of the road, with a crying baby, in the hot sun. see: @anthonydpaul expectation realityvs
  22. 22. Workshop activities 22 Use the critical uncertainties highlighted in your impact and uncertainty matrix to tell a variety of dismal future stories. Design within each of them, then see which design solutions maintain value across speculative futures. @anthonydpaul see: Banksy’s Dismaland photo by Matthew Baker, Getty Images
  23. 23. Example workshop 23 We ran a community workshop for Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce’s smart city initiative. Teams created stories, designed IoT products, then swapped futures to re-evaluate their products. see: @anthonydpaul
  24. 24. Driving change 24 Stress cases help harden designs and to anticipate the presentation hecklers—addressing many “what if” challenges they may pose. Involving decision-makers in the process of defining stress cases can also help them to better empathize with customers, end-users, and the difficult design challenge. @anthonydpaul
  25. 25. 25 @anthonydpaul Build upon conversations and aggregate research.3 of 4
  26. 26. 26 “ Our collective ability to realize a positive future depends on our collective ability to imagine it.” from Stuart Candy’s TEDxChristchurch talk, Whose future is this?
  27. 27. Cone of Futures 27 Stuart Candy’s talk introduces plural futures and emphasizes choosing and designing a collective vision you and your partners can drive toward. Learn about the Cone of Futures and begin categorizing predictions by distance in time and likelihood. @anthonydpaul see:
  28. 28. Workshop activities 28 Use your central future story to share and start new conversations—ours is called the Future of Freight Vision Timeline. Capture additional global trends, eras of change, milestones, technologies being created, and anticipated business opportunities to unlock. @anthonydpaul created in partnership with Teague
  29. 29. Driving change 29 Illustrate dated milestones to give decision-makers something to experience. When we reach this specific time, what will it look and feel like? @anthonydpaul created in partnership with SCAD
  30. 30. 30 @anthonydpaul
  31. 31. 31 @anthonydpaul Map dependencies to sell the boring stuff.4 of 4
  32. 32. The RFP process 32 Without the why, those approving budgets will always cross out the boring stuff—anything where they can’t visualize the ROI. @anthonydpaul
  33. 33. Workshop activities 33 Seasonally search for and agree upon opportunities to size. Prioritize dependencies supporting many opportunities. Backcast all social, technological, regulatory, or other dependencies. @anthonydpaul
  34. 34. Driving change 34 Individual teams, products, customer businesses, and people all need their own instructions for what to work on next. Often, incentives and success metrics are misaligned with the visionary direction we’re headed and you can enable “success” with achievement milestones you co-define. @anthonydpaul
  35. 35. All four in tandem 35 1. Use contrast for impactful stories. Scary stories can help elevate value statements and see new opportunities. 2. Design for stress cases. Prepare for all the doomsdays, to survive and thrive within any future. 3. Build upon conversations and aggregate research. Use every conversation additively and create a collective vision, because none of this is sci-fi. The world around us is moving and you’ll begin to see where it’s going. 4. Map dependencies to sell the boring stuff. Turn them into near-term wins by illuminating the value they will unlock. There’s no curtained unveiling of the future—we’re in it. @anthonydpaul
  36. 36. Design for transition 36 As practitioners, it’s our fiduciary duty and ethical responsibility to look beyond today. You have to design for transition. You have to show your value as a strategic thinker. You must do your job… @anthonydpaul
  37. 37. …or else we all die. 37 @anthonydpaul
  38. 38. Thank
 you.Anthony D. Paul @anthonydpaul