The Role of Empathy in Design

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This is a transcription of the Business901 Podcast, An Inquiry into the Meaning of Making. Seung Chan Lim, nicknamed Slim discusses his journey and finally his project, Realizing Empathy. Through this project Slim hopes to share ideas, tools, and other ways to facilitate a meaningful, sustainable, and constructive conversations between and among diverse perspectives whether that’s between people or between people and materials or between people and machines by using “making” as the shared metaphor.

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The Role of Empathy in Design

  1. 1. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsThe Role of Empathy in Design Guest was Seung Chan Lim (Slim) Related Podcast: An Inquiry into the Meaning of Making An Inquiry into the Meaning of Making Copyright Business901
  2. 2. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsSeung Chan Lim, nicknamed Slim discusses his journey andfinally his project, Realizing Empathy. Through this project Slimhopes to share ideas, tools, and other ways to facilitate a meaningful, sustainable, and constructive conversations between and among diverse perspectives whether that’s between people or between people and materials or between people and machines by using “making” as the shared metaphor. Slim has created a Kickstarter Project to fund his book. This book is quite substantial at400+ full-color pages, which makes it quite pricey to print atlow volume. The proposed amount is actually the minimumneeded to print enough books so that the cost per book fallsbelow $50. Any profit made will go directly to taking the projectto the next level of development.This Kickstarter project is not merely a project to print a book. Itis a project to build a community around the central thesisof the book that the act of making is analogous to the act ofempathizing, that there is much value in moving away from ourcurrent infatuation with creativity, innovation, andtransformation, and toward the goal of achieving a deeperunderstanding of who we are as human beings.If you find what Slim says intriguing, please take a look at hiswebsites:Website: http://realizingempathy.com/Facebook: http://facebook.com/realizempathy/Blog: http://realizingempathy.posterous.com/ An Inquiry into the Meaning of Making Copyright Business901
  3. 3. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsSeung Chan Lim (Slim): Part of the thing Im learning fromthis experience once I got this work out in public, the real hugebenefit that Im getting from this exchange is that its challengingme to think of ways of expressing these ideas, such that theyreactually understandable. Sort of I have to practice my ownbeliefs, trying to empathize with other people. Yes, there arecertain things I want to say. But throwing out words Ive chosento use and stopping there isnt going to cut it. I have to figure outa way to use a shared language that makes sense to both of us.Joe Dager: Welcome everyone. This is Joe Dager, the host ofthe Business 901 Podcast. With me today is Seung Chang. Seung,nicknamed Slim, which I will call him the rest of the podcast, hasengrossed himself into a special project that I want to discuss.The project name is "Realizing Empathy." In its simplest termsasks; what it means to make something, how it works as aprocess and why it matters to our lives. Before we start, Slim,could you give me a little background about yourself?Slim: For nearly a decade, I worked at a design firm called MayaDesign, in Pittsburgh, where I last served as the AssistantDirector of engineering and Senior Software Design Engineer.Then, for the last three and a half years, I was in an art school,making a whole boat load of stuff, whether its physical things, asin objects, or acting or dancing. And from that, grew this projectcalled "Realizing Empathy."Joe: What drove the thought process of it? How did you getstarted in that direction?Slim: Its a combination of three major events in my life. One ofthem was the fact that I worked at that design firm I justmentioned. The second thing is the fact that I went this artschool. The third thing is an exchange I had with a really closefriend from a long time ago. Basically, the first part is that thisfirm called Maya Design, in Pittsburgh... I would almostcategorize it as a weird place, but in a fantastic way. What they An Inquiry into the Meaning of Making Copyright Business901
  4. 4. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemsdo is they have almost two companies in one. One of them is thetypical design, consulting firm side which is your IDEOs, yourFrog Designs, your Smart Designs, where we practice humancentered design. But the other side is almost like a... I dontknow how to describe it.Its like a future technology lab, but headed by a very, very clearvision that one person holds. So basically what was going on was,on one side you would do design consulting work with a lot ofcorporations like Fortune 500 companies where we do the typicalethnographic research and all that stuff. But on the other, wewould do none of that.We would have one person who has a single minded vision inmind and group of us would sit down and argue a lot and,basically, figure out a way to design something that we all believeis beautiful. The only thing I can think of that comes to mindwhen comparing this to something most people are familiar to ismy cartoon of how Apple would be run.Where Steve Jobs is like a single-minded person and hes got agroup of people like Jonathan Ive, whos a designer, that theyargue a lot about, "Whats the most beautiful thing we canpossibly do?" So it was kind of an interesting experience becausethis happened under one roof. So on certain days, I would followthe human centered design process and do ethnographicresearch, user testing and all these great things.The next day, I would be in a room saying, "Forget all thosethings." And really just make something we all believe isexcruciatingly beautiful. It was a great thing for me in terms oflearning two different ways of thinking about design. I thinktheres no other way to thank that experience for that. But on theother hand it was very confusing for me, because I wasconstantly shifting back and forth between two different points ofviews. An Inquiry into the Meaning of Making Copyright Business901
  5. 5. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsIt was basically the desire, I guess, to want to resolve the tensionbetween these two conflicting views that lead me to, almost likean identity crisis. I was asking my mentors and my colleagues,"How do you actually fuse these two different approaches todesign? Is it even possible?" A lot of them said "Dont think toomuch about it and do something completely different." Especiallyone mentor said, "The only way to understand what you haveright now, which is that tension, is to leave it behind and dosomething completely different from what youre used to so youactually have a perspective on what it is that you actually have."At the end of the day, one person said, "That different thingmight be going to an art school." Which, at the time, sounded likea crazy idea? But the more I thought about it, the more it madesense to me. I basically went off to art school to study what is itthat fine artists and crafts people have done for years and yearsand years that I have no real insight into.Throughout that whole experience, basically making physicalthings, it changed my perspective on everything from design tomaking to life. Synthesizing all of these things together lead medown the path of this new way of thinking which backs theproject of "Realizing Empathy."Joe: I always thought art school to me, in the classes that Ivetaken, drove my ability to see.Slim: Oh, absolutely. In the fundamental way, the idea ofdrawing; I used to think that drawing was like, "Why would youdo that?" It seems like an artsy-fartsy thing to do. Whereassomething I used to do, which is like information graphics, issupposed to be nobler or its a very practical and pragmatic thingto do. What I quickly learned in art school is that that cant befurther from the truth because drawing is actually a way ofmapping information. And not just mapping information in alogical way, but also in a visceral way. Because what youre doingis youre training yourself to see and object thats right in front of An Inquiry into the Meaning of Making Copyright Business901
  6. 6. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemsyou for what they really are, instead of for what you think theyare. Which is like, if you asked somebody to draw a cup, theywould draw these oval shapes and these other stuff. Like asymbol of a cup.But when you ask them to see the cup as what they are and drawit, they have a very difficult time of doing it because they cant letgo of their preconceived notion of what a couple looks like.Drawing basically teaches you how to let go of that bias and to letthese signals in, in a very visceral way so that you can see themfor what they are. And also translate them through your body anduse a medium like a charcoal or a pencil to be able to express itback into the world, what it is that you actually see.Joe: I think thats a great description. Was there a certainmoment during this time that you sat back in your chair and youstart pondering what empathy really meant?Slim: It wasnt actually until maybe two thirds of the way intoschool. In the beginning, empathy was not at all a word that Iwas interested in. It sounds kind of funny in retrospect, but itwasnt until I took an acting class that the word came into play.Have you ever taken an acting class?Joe: No, I havent. I think thats a great idea, just as much aswhat drawing would be. Im following your line here. Im buyinginto it. Go ahead.Slim: Whats really funny is... Basically, I would almostcategorize myself as an empirical researcher. Because as much asI love books and if you come to my place youll see so manybooks, I dont really read them as much as I probably should. Immuch more of an experiential person. So taking classes andacting is like another way of understanding, what does it mean toact instead of reading a book about it. I decided to just do it.Basically, what I learned in acting class is that it broke mypreconceived notion of the idea that acting is pretending. To a An Inquiry into the Meaning of Making Copyright Business901
  7. 7. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemscertain degree, yes; there is a pretend in it. But by and large,what actors do is they try to bring in their own experiences andbring it into the moment when theyre on stage. But they do itunder a frame. They do it under the name of some othercharacter thats inside a play.They do it in a situation that is not their own. But what theyrereally doing is theyre accessing their own personal experience,triggering them in the moment. So when the audience sees it,they may think its the character doing it, but they feel that whattheyre doing is real because it is real. Theyre trying their verybest to be true to themselves.Thats a very different way of thinking about acting. Becausewhat theyre doing is theyre empathizing both in real time withwhat the characters going through, and also before, duringrehearsals, theyre constantly trying to understand what it is thatthis character, this writer has written, is really trying to dobecause the words dont really tell you enough.You have to have gestures. You have to have facial expressions.All these other nuances have to be coincided with the words for itto really work as a remarkable piece of artwork that moves theaudience and gets them to think about things differently. Itwasnt until I took that acting class that the word empathyentered into my equation.It also triggered my own experience with my friend, who isbipolar. I dont know if you watched that video on my website.Joe: Yes, I did.Slim: So basically the story is, I had a really close friend with abipolar disorder. In my effort to help that friend, what I learnedwas that the psychiatrists in the industry... First of all, theywarned me that I shouldnt be doing this, which is to help myfriend on a personal level. Because theyre afraid that it might An Inquiry into the Meaning of Making Copyright Business901
  8. 8. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemsaffect me. There are cases when somebody who tries to helpsomebody whos bipolar also gets depressed themselves. Butbeyond that, just being a guy that wants to solve problems,coming from my computer science background, I just keptasking, "Theres gotta be something I could do." And what theysuggested was I try to empathize with her. Thats probably thesecond time in my entire life where I heard that word. So I waslike, "What does that even mean, to empathize with somebody?How do I do that?"They actually had a very rigorous process behind it, which was tofigure out a way to engage in a conversation with that person.Such that when you express back, in your own words, howtheyre feeling and how theyre thinking, or why it is that theyrebehaving the way theyre behaving... If they resonate with thatstory I tell her, they will feel that they have been understood, orthey have been empathized with.That will actually help them feel better. It will help resolve thetension that often arises in a situation where youre arguing withsomebody whos depressed or lives with bipolar disorder. Thissounds extremely simple in principle. But when you actually try todo it, its very difficult. Just because youre trying to understandthat other person, doesnt mean the other persons going tocooperate. That person might not even help you understand thatother person.That person might just yell at you and scream at you. So it tookalmost like an hour, I think, of trying to figure out whats goingon. And at the end of the day, what really happens is that it isntthat... Basically what happens at the end is that everything youthought the person was going through, everything you thoughtwas what the person was thinking is basically wrong. Because itsreally difficult to understand what the other person is reallyfeeling or really thinking. An Inquiry into the Meaning of Making Copyright Business901
  9. 9. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsBecause all you see are these superficial cues on the surface.Youre making your own assumptions, based on your own biasesand your own desire to protect yourself from being all involved inthat other person being depressed. Like after an hour, you realizethat the story that resonates with her has to be extremelyhonest.In the sense that you have to admit that you had something todo with her being depressed this is a very different way ofthinking about the process of empathizing in a typical context.People think of empathy as just being nice to somebody or justsaying, "Im sorry." Or something like that.No, the way psychiatrists and clinical psychologists think aboutempathizing is this entire process of really trying to be honestwith yourself. So that you can understand what that other personis going through. Its very difficult. Thats probably why there areprofessionals who do it and they dont recommend normal peopleto try and do.But nonetheless, its a process that resonated when I took thatacting class because actors do the exact same thing. Its just thatthey do it with an imaginary character thats on a script.Joe: I get the feel good approach. But what does it mean todesign?Slim: Basically, what it means to design is that... I look atdesign process as a whole, as an empathic conversation on amultiple dimension. Basically, what youre doing when youredesigning is youre having these exchanges that I call empathicconversation, with basically everything that is involved in thedesign process. For example, if youre industrial designing,making a piece of furniture, you not only have an empathicconversation with the person who might be sitting on that pieceof chair. Trying to figure out the ergonomics, what is theirpreference, what kind of colors they like, where is this going to go An Inquiry into the Meaning of Making Copyright Business901
  10. 10. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemsin. Is it inside a building? Is it inside a small warehouse? Is it intheir home?Youre also empathizing with the material. Because you cant just,in a vacuum, say, "Ill make this amazing chair with absolutely nounderstanding of raw materials." Wood, metal, plastic. All thesethings have their own sense of integrity. As a designer, you haveto engage in an empathic conversation with those materials justas much as you do with that other person.Because wood will not do what you will it to do. It will do what itwants to do. If you really want to make this chair out of wood,you better figure out a way to empathize with that. So theresbasically empathizing going on in many dimensions in the entiredesign process.Joe: I think of interaction design, I think of IDEO and Frog thatyou mentioned. With empathy, as you describe it here, why is it anew direction? Hasnt it been part of it?Slim: I think empathy, as a word, at this moment in time; itsalmost entered into the popular mainstream because there areseveral books being written about it, recently. Its not thatempathy, in and of itself is new. I think whats new is... Whatdoes it mean to empathize and to what extent does that becomea core part of the design process? If you look at something likehuman centered design... This is me being very critical. I wouldnormally not be as critical. The idea of empathy is, to me, verysuperficial. Because how its used is, in the context of things likeethnographic research, or if you go a little deeper into it, thingslike contextual inquiry, user testing, things like that, the domainof usability.You use empathizing or empathy as a way of getting the otherperson to talk about what theyre really going through. You dointerviews. You write down those notes and use them as part ofyour design process, which is great. But I think its insufficient An Inquiry into the Meaning of Making Copyright Business901
  11. 11. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemsbecause it stops short of really getting to the heart of whatempathizing is about which is the conversation that on goes untilyou get to the core of it, the honesty of it, or the truth, if youreally want to talk about it that way.Because most design consulting ways of working is, you have thisyear long or two yearlong project and thats it. You stop and say,"All right, Im going to move on to the next project." The idea ofkeeping that conversation going on and then sustaining thatrelationship is, often times, lost.I think the depth to which we think about empathy and theimportance of empathy in the entire design process, as well asthe maintenance process or the ongoing relationship, orsustaining that relationship is something that hasnt been fullyaddressed yet.Joe: How would you design for that type of conversation?Slim: There are two criteria, I guess. You need to be able todesign a space that is imbued with several principles thatfacilitate that empathic conversation. That alone isnt sufficient.You also need people with the kind of attitude that is required forthem to be willing to engage in this kind of empathicconversation. So the space designed for empathic conversationbasically has five principles underlying it. One is the idea that thespace has to give you the qualities of safety and comfort.Meaning, people who are immersed in the space have to feel thatthey can trust it enough that theyre willing to do somethingpotentially risky. The second thing is, you also have to have ashared language or I use the word "shared metaphor," becauseits more visceral in my mind.You can actually exchange with people who are in this space,such that youre not talking past one another. So youre usingsomething that both parties really understand the meaning of.Then, once you have that, you have to engage in a conversation An Inquiry into the Meaning of Making Copyright Business901
  12. 12. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemssuch that theres a goal of trying to get to the honesty of bothparties. Just like I talked about in the context of that exchange Ihad with my friend.Then you also have to respect the other persons integrity. Itsnot simply trying to convince the other person that youre right oryour perspective is the right perspective. Its really just flowingand saying, "I see that the way you think about this is this and Ireally acknowledge that." And that other person also does thesame.So all these different senses of integrity bubble up and rise to thesurface. Everybody can see it. What this does, as a side effect, isit actually allows people, both parties, to be able to express whatit is they want and to be able to exchange that story together.Joe: Is this really the secret sauce for collaboration andco-creation?Slim: I think so. I dont know exactly what a secret sauce is. ButI think these are... The way I would call it is the necessary andsufficient conditions for collaboration. Because if you look at theword "collaboration" its kind of interesting because in a lot ofcontexts that Ive heard that word, collaboration doesnt reallyjive with me as what I would consider collaboration. For example,theres a lot of talk in the art and science community these days.Theyre saying, "Were interdisciplinary, were collaborating."What they really mean is, theres a group of scientists that does abunch of research and they need this to be visualized. They findartists and designers and say, "All right, can you visualize this forme?"The artists and designers go, "Sure, lets do it." Then somebodygets to present this to an audience and says, "Look at thisamazing science and artist collaboration." Thats good and has itsvalues on its own. But I think theres a different kind ofcollaboration that I would categorize as being much more An Inquiry into the Meaning of Making Copyright Business901
  13. 13. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemsintimate, where youre really trying to understand how the artistlooks at the problem the scientists are looking at.The scientists are looking at the same problems artists arelooking at. Both of them trying to see: "Is this the same problemthat were looking at, or is it different?" What are the similarities,what are the differences? And really attacking or addressing theproblem as equals and saying, "What are the different ways ofaddressing this" and coming up with a coherent way of thinkingabout it.Instead of it being one side of argument for the scienceperspective and another side of perspective from the artist side ofthings.Joe: I come from a perspective of sales and marketing and oneof the things, coming to the forefront is the fact that its no longeryour job to get a message out. Its your job to get the messagein. I think empathy has got to play a big role in that, on bothsides of the coin. Listening to the customer and listening tooperations. I think sales and marketing has to combine themessage. Thats what will be at the forefront of co-creation andmaybe the key component. I cant see how it can be done withouta strong degree of empathy.Slim: Absolutely. Empathy is so crucial to basically everything. Isubscribe to the idea that empathy is a necessary capacity.Actually, let me define it first, so I know that we know what weretalking about. When I say the word "empathy" what I mean byit... Its an ability to viscerally imagine both the current physicaland mental state of another. And, as an extension, predict theirfuture actions as well. This other may be another human being, apiece of wood, some figment of your imagination, or even yourown body. So, in a business context, without empathy, you cantreally learn anything about other people or processes or othermachines. You really have to train this in a variety of contexts, if An Inquiry into the Meaning of Making Copyright Business901
  14. 14. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemsyou want to be able to work effectively and efficiently with oneanother.Joe: How do you suggest someone get started? I guess theother question, are some people just born with more empathythan others. Is it something that can be learned?Slim: I think theres a lot of argument in the scientificcommunity, whether this is innate, this is nurtured and all thatkind of stuff. Actually, I talked about this in my book with a childpsychologist at Brown. But I think, to a degree, it can be learned.Because what Ive experienced is that people who are bothhumble and courageous... And I mean something very specific bythose two words. When I say humble, meaning people who arewilling to proactively assume that whatever they encounter isinfinitely more interesting and infinitely more nuanced thenwhatever they can imagine at that point in time. They are muchmore likely to empathize or increase their capacity to empathizeover time because theyre experiencing the differences over andover again.After a while you realize, theres an infinite amount of stuff youcould learn if you have that attitude and youre going to beproactively increasing your ability to empathize because you seevalue in doing so. As a matter of fact, the top child psychologist Iinterviewed talked about how babies learn. This is directly relatedto what I talk about, empathy.For example, imagine a baby knowing nothing but their parents,when theyre born because its their world. Then they hearsounds that you hear in the world, like footsteps, in a narrowsense. Like, "I hear footsteps and mother appears." Or somethinglike that. They make that association. But there will be a momentwhere they hear a footstep and somebody else besides his dad ormother appears. An Inquiry into the Meaning of Making Copyright Business901
  15. 15. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsAnd the babys surprised, like, "Whoa! What is this? I have neverseen this before." At that moment, the baby realizes, "Maybe thatsound is not the same as the sound I heard before." But it wassimilar. There was something very similar about the footstep.But yet, in retrospect, there was something also different aboutit. So theres sufficient amount of shared-ness in that sound thatthe baby isnt completed jarred or bewildered and gone crazy.But theres a little bit of nuance that the baby picks up at thatmoment and goes, "Huh, interesting. Another human being thathas the sound of footsteps, thats similar but different from myparents."What they can do with this new information is, they can actuallyextend all the knowledge theyve gathered from their interactionwith their parents... Like the feeling of cuddling or the feeling oflove. Most things theyve felt and translate it to other people. Thisis a remarkable moment because the psychologists define this asthe very definition of maturity.The meaning behind what it means to mature is that you startnoticing these differences in things, situations, people,everything. Youre able to embrace them more and more. If thatsnot empathy, I dont know what is. So, basically, its at the coreof how everything new is learned by somebody.Joe: A good salesperson does the same thing.Slim: Yes, absolutely.Joe: Youre writing a book. Tell me a little bit about it.Slim: Sure. Ive actually written most of it. The little bit I haveto write is more the preface that I want to write as a way tosummarize the whole thing. But the book is basically my way ofspreading the idea, that the act of making is analogous to the actof empathizing. To think about the idea, look at the whole designprocess as empathic conversation that happened in multiple An Inquiry into the Meaning of Making Copyright Business901
  16. 16. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemsdimensions. I think itll change the mush with which to design.Because itll provide us with this impetus to move away from ourcurrent infatuation with things like creativity, innovation andtransformation and toward the goal of achieving a much deeperunderstanding of who we are as human beings. Because at theend of the day, whatever you design, ultimately, also helps you,as the designer, a deeper knowledge of the entire design process,the materials youve interacted with, the people youve interactedwith, the organizations youve interacted with.The same thing holds for basically what artists do or actors do.Everybody does when they interact with other people. I think thebook is my way of synthesizing all of those things together andputting it out into the world.Joe: What is the timeline for your book?Slim: Right now, theres a Kick-starter project going that endson March 12. If I can raise the necessary funding to print anddistribute the book by then, Ill be able to go ahead and finish it,and work with the printing press to figure out a way to print itand distribute it.Joe: So youre self-publishing the book?Slim: Yes. Thats my current agenda.Joe: Its interesting. How can someone find out more about it?Slim: You can go to the website, realizingempathy.com, wheretheres more information on it. You can also go to kickstarter.comand search for "Realizing Empathy."Joe: You did a collaboration project on this book, which wetalked a about before the podcast. Many books are becomingmore like that; theyre becoming more of a collaboration project.Rather than just sitting in a corner and writing a book while,hiding away in some cabin in Connecticut. An Inquiry into the Meaning of Making Copyright Business901
  17. 17. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsSlim: You mean the process with which I wrote the book itself?Joe: Yes.Slim: Yes. Its an idea that popped up into my head while I waswriting the book. Because basically the book revolves around agroup of stories of my experiences Ive had and how theychanged my perspective. What I did after I wrote one story is Iposted on a private blog. I started with posting other stories onFacebook, actually. It was really for myself, as a way to keeptrack of these pieces of writings Ive done. But Ive made it publicto my friends, in case theyre interested in commenting on it orsomething. But what I quickly realized was that it got a lot ofcomments from people. They were very interested in talkingmore about my experiences and sharing their own experiences orwhat they got out of the story. There were a core group of peoplewho kept commenting in really invigorating exchanges onFacebook, no less.I would post a little, sentence-long, status update about theexperience and it would evolve into this multi-page discussion onFacebook. So I was like, "Wow. Theres something here that Iwant to expand upon and really get this process to be morestructured, I guess." I made a private blog where I post thestories. This core group of people who kept commenting on it wasinvited to come.We had several more of these invigorating exchanges in thatprivate blog. I put every single one of those conversations intothe book because what they said about the story I wrote is justas much, if not even more, interesting than what I had to sayabout the stuff.Joe: Is there something that maybe I didnt ask that you wouldlike to add to this conversation? An Inquiry into the Meaning of Making Copyright Business901
  18. 18. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsSlim: In the context of computer devices and mobile devices andthings like that, one of the interesting things I noticed is...Computer is probably both the best and the worst example ofempathy. In the sense that if youre a programmer and youregiven these devices like the iPad or the Macbook or somethinglike that, you have a very good chance of having a very intimateconnection to the computer. Being able to do just about what youwant. For example, open source; a group of programmers doingopen innovation in the wild. They have the right kind of skills andright kind of understanding and the right kind of ability toempathize with computers. Theyre able to do something quiteremarkable at a large scale. Down the road, where I would lovefor this to go, is to go beyond this elite group of people who arecalled programmers.Because like you said, the idea of open innovation, it almostpermeates into the culture itself. Its not merely something thatends with a business and then everything else is on the other sideof the fence or something like that. If it really integrates into thesociety and the culture as a whole, what has to happen is...Normal people, like my mother, for example...When she has the most difficult time using the computer,whether its the iPad or whatnot... When she is finally able to say,"Oh, I need this one thing done on my computer and I havesufficient understanding of the computer to be able to do that."and without having to know the ins and outs of every single detailof hardware and software.If she can do that, if the designer of the computer treats thecomputer not as simply a thing, but a platform that integratesinto our lives, where we can actually have this empathicconversation with it, I think the climate of technology will be avery different one; instead of thinking about technology as thisamazing, crazy thing thats all about innovation. An Inquiry into the Meaning of Making Copyright Business901
  19. 19. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsItll be valued as something that allows or empowers us to dosomething for ourselves or solve our own problems, withouthaving to wait for some large corporation somewhere to releasethe next version or to take our input into consideration.Joe: I completely agree with you. I look at the fact that 60, 70percent of the things we buy, theres intelligence built into themnow. When people think computers, notepads, iPads and iPhones,I dont even think about that anymore. I think about 60 percentof the things I pick up in my hand. You look at how wevetransformed from that because it was only 10-15 years ago...Maybe a little longer. Lets say 15 years ago, that 80 percent ofVCRs had blinking lights when you walked into peoples houses.Slim: Yes, exactly.Joe: Now, its become something that we use and is an expectedpart of our life with a remote control. I call them the MarioGeneration. They grew up with Luigi beating against a blank walluntil he found a hole. He eventually found the hole. They learneda pattern. They learned by doing. Whens the last time youbought anything that came with an instruction manual? Its adifferent way of learning that were used to. I think, in that, wasdriven, unbeknownst to all of us, was the empathy. Nobodywants to open up an instruction manual. Nobody wants to readdirections. Were able to manipulate things on our own and learnourselves. Because were not afraid of learning, we just want todo it our way.Slim: Exactly. I have a video on my website called "Physics asFreedom." This is actually one of the animations that started offthe halfway point in my research. Its funny because in thesoftware world, Ive always been told by the elders of thecomputer science industry that freedom is what were fighting for.Thats a lot of the beliefs of computer scientists. But I didntunderstand what freedom meant until much later in my career,after I got to art school. I started realizing, when you make An Inquiry into the Meaning of Making Copyright Business901
  20. 20. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemsphysical things, without having to learn much, you learn aboutthe material through empathy and you go through that process oftrying to understand what a wood does or what a piece of metaldoes. Rather quickly you can do some amazing things with it,because a lot of it is already in our evolutionary biology.Also the fact that learnability is almost inherent because of theway we utilize our capacity to empathize with stuff. The idea thatphysics, already, is a great model of how we can interact withsomething, and realizing that we need to figure out a way totranslate the qualities afforded by this physics, into the world ofcomputers.Allowing more and more people to be able to have the freedom tobe more self-sufficient and make things on their own. It seems tome like an extremely crucial motivation for the technologyindustry in the future as well.Joe: How much of this understanding has come from the factthat you worked in the art school with your hands and youmodeled and you did things by physically working and the feel ofit?Slim: A good majority of it. Before I went to art school, Ivenever made anything with my hands. Id never drawn. So it wasall very new. If I look at the speed at which I was able to pickthings up and the kind of feelings I had that I felt was differentfrom what I was used to, which is like computer programming.Without that stark contrast, I dont think I would have everthought of this project at all.Joe: It seemed that you had some strong bonding to thatbecause of the pictures in the video that I saw incorporated that.Thank you very much, Slim, for the opportunity here. Thispodcast will be available in the Business 901 iTunes Store andalso the Business 901 website. An Inquiry into the Meaning of Making Copyright Business901
  21. 21. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systems Joseph T. Dager Lean Marketing Systems Ph: 260-438-0411 Fax: 260-818-2022 Email: jtdager@business901.com Web/Blog: http://www.business901.com Twitter: @business901 What others say: In the past 20 years, Joe and I have collaborated on many difficult issues. Joes ability to combine his expertise with "out of the box"thinking is unsurpassed. He has always delivered quickly, cost effectivelyand with ingenuity. A brilliant mind that is always a pleasure to work with."James R.Joe Dager is President of Business901, a progressive company providingdirection in areas such as Lean Marketing, Product Marketing, ProductLaunches and Re-Launches. As a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt,Business901 provides and implements marketing, project and performanceplanning methodologies in small businesses. The simplicity of a singleflexible model will create clarity for your staff and as a result betterexecution. My goal is to allow you spend your time on the need versus theplan.An example of how we may work: Business901 could start with aconsulting style utilizing an individual from your organization or a virtualassistance that is well versed in our principles. We have capabilities toplug virtually any marketing function into your process immediately. Asproficiencies develop, Business901 moves into a coach’s role supporting theprocess as needed. The goal of implementing a system is that the processeswill become a habit and not an event. Business901 Podcast Opportunity Expert Status An Inquiry into the Meaning of Making Copyright Business901

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