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"-ing": new practice development

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DEFUSE
  DESIGN FOR USE




                   1
SIMON ROBERTS
          -ING




                 2
I want to acknowledge from the outset the work of Elizabeth Shove and Mike
Pantzer, especially their papers on practice su...
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"-ing": new practice development

  1. 1. DEFUSE DESIGN FOR USE 1
  2. 2. SIMON ROBERTS -ING 2
  3. 3. I want to acknowledge from the outset the work of Elizabeth Shove and Mike Pantzer, especially their papers on practice such as Consumers, Producers and Practice (Journal of Consumer culture – 2005: Vol 5 43-64) and many conversations I’ve had with Simon Blyth at IDEO about the ideas in this presentation. This talk is about products and practice – actually it’s more about practices and why these are important, even if you think you design products. The world is full of lots of products that either fail outright or never catch on How can we save our products from ridicule – how can we make things that people want, use and share. I contend that the answer is to focus on practice not products. 3
  4. 4. Let’s start with walking. Mankind has been walking for 1.6 millions years and he is pretty good at it. Walking is a practice that needs little innovation or additions – or does it? 4
  5. 5. • Walking Of course walking is not a uniform activity – there’s walking to work – anyone that’s every been pushed along by the crowds on a London bridge in the morning will know that this is entirely different from a solitary walk along a beach or rambling. 5
  6. 6. Everyday life is made of a series of things that we do, or practices like walking. Making coffee and brushing our teeth are just a couple of these. As humans, or consumers, we consume stuff through doing these practices And on the flip side, this stuff supports our practices. 6
  7. 7. It might sound like both a trivial and obvious thing to say but we cannot perform practices like tooth brushing without tooth brushes and toothpaste and we can’t play tennis without courts, nets, balls, racquets. Objects, things, stuff: they all sustain our practices And people tend not to NEED things like balls, courts, racquets until they’re performing a practice like playing tennis. 7
  8. 8. Of course the standard NPD and marketing narrative is that consumers have undiscovered needs and when we have divined these pre-existing needs we design a product for them. But you don’t need a device that allows you to send a 140 character message until you have a practice called ‘texting’. Needs emerge from practices You don’t need Nordic walking sticks until you start Nordic walking…. So what is this Nordic walking malarkey and what has it got to do with new practice, as opposed to new product development. 8
  9. 9. Nordic walking is an activity which involves people aerobically exercising in outdoor settings with two rather techno-looking walking sticks or poles. Depending on your opinion it can look a bit silly but it’s an international phenomenon and big business. It is even got a foothold in Ireland. 9
  10. 10. Where did it come from? Three versions of the story: 1. Cross-country skiers training in the off-season; 2. state sponsored campaign in Finland to promote benefits of outdoor life 3. The deliberate transfer of equipment from one market sector (the disabled) to another (wellness and fitness). 10
  11. 11. Which ever account you buy Nordic walking has done one thing – it has fundamentally repositioned the whole idea of walking with sticks. It has broken the near universal link between ideas of frailty, infirmity and old age and created new links with ideas about wellness, fitness, the outdoors…. 11
  12. 12. Put it another slightly more sociological way, Nordic walking has integrated three things: Slightly new stuff = STICKS; very new images = NATURE, FITNESS, WELL BEING; and new competences = how to walk with these sticks and with other people in ways that make it great exercise Nordic walking is the novel integration of IMAGE, COMPETENCE and EQUIPMENT 12
  13. 13. STORIES: here are some of the stories that touch on the practice of Nordic walking. Fitness, fun and ordinariness (you don’t look as stupid as you think which overcomes the initial concern which people have that they look silly – makes it a group practice which normalises it) The redefinition of ordinary walking through focusing on reduction of joint injury and involving the use of more muscles. Walking with sticks is better for you than walking without them 13
  14. 14. SKILLS: Skills to be mastered – training courses and systems of accreditation and recognition. Reframing the skill of walking – new and distinctive activity with techniques all of its own. 14
  15. 15. STUFF: A variety of different tips for differing ground conditions, urban colouring and even a range by Marimekko. A profusion of equipment 15
  16. 16. Nordic walking represents the artful integration of SKILLS, STUFF AND STORIES – images of fitness and wellbeing; the walking sticks themselves and knowledge about how to use them to create a new practice The practice of Nordic walking adds weight to the things/stuff that the practice draws on – in this sense it is recursive. 16
  17. 17. As the ‘practicers’ worldwide continue to do the integrating of stories, stuff and skills in locally relevant ways. NW becomes a global phenomenon. 17
  18. 18. So what I’m suggesting is not that we should stop making things/products (though sometime you have to ask if we need everything that businesses produces) but instead that we might think of our roles as designers not so much as product designers and more as developers of practices. And as the example of NW has shown, if we are to create and sustain practices we need to integrate Stories, Skills and Stuff – not just design STUFF NPD = NEW PRACTICE DEVELOPMENT: Products alone have no value. Stuff only has value to people when it is allied to stories and skills and the real skill is the work of integrating stuff, stories and skills. 18
  19. 19. Segway I think the Segway is a good example of a thing being created without due attention to the skills and stories that are need to ingrate it into a popular practices. INTEGRATION here is key and that’s what as designers, marketing, advertising and policy people you should be thinking about. 19
  20. 20. linear This idea of practices can be turned to field other than products and business – there are pressing concerns and agendas in terms of obesity, water wastage, climate change and here we need to be creating practices which have an impact on our footprint. What Skills, stories and stuff do we need to change the way we practice every life with respect to these challenges. 20
  21. 21. linear And of course in some areas of life we want people to do more of something – eat more fresh fruit and veg, turn lights off more and use less water in the shower. Again what Stories, skills and stuff do we need to integrate in these areas of life. 21
  22. 22. So my conclusion, briefly, is that you should re-think what your role as a designer really is and think about enabling and supporting practices not just creating new things. And if you must build new things – think about the stories and skills that enable them and which, in turn, the thing sustains. Your challenge is to create, maintain and improved new practices, and if you’re business ensure your relevant in existing or emergent practices. Design for the verb. 22

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