MIT D-Lab Founder Helps Build Creative Capacity in Uganda

Amy Smith, founder of the MIT D-Lab is working with villagers in war-ravaged Uganda to help them help themselves.  She is helping them learn how to creatively develop new ideas to make their lives better.

She is teaching them the tools of design and innovation that will help them to overcome local problems with local solutions.  For instance, participants have developed 15 new methods of threshing peanuts, which are an important part of the local diet.

Smith refers to this process as “creative capacity building” — in other words, giving people a sense of how to design the solutions to their own problems. “It places the expertise in the village instead of at MIT,” Taha says. The local people know what the tasks are that they need to do, so the idea is to get them to “take that expertise you have, and develop a tool that helps you to do it better.

The D-Lab team is putting their skills to great use.  Creative capacity building is something many companies could use here, too.

The Role of Storytelling in Innovation: Part 2

Observing isn’t enough.  Anyone can just sit and watch a story unfold.

With innovation, we must actively tell the story.

In part 1, we discussed getting the story of the customer by being a sort of armchair  anthropologist. A few weeks ago we introduced the idea of context.  Now it’s time to get beyond the theory and talk about what we should actually do with all of those observations.

We’ve got to move from passively observing the customer’s story to actively telling it.

(Rest of the series: Part 1, Part 3Part 4)

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Design in 5D: Design Thinking in Action

Sami Nerenburg has a great post over at Core77 called Dimensions of Design.

Nerenburg argues that design is much more than graphic or industrial design.  Certainly, the rest of the world is discovering the value of thinking like a designer.  Arnold Wasserman said at his lecture a couple of weeks ago at Carnegie Mellon that ‘design is too important to be left to the designers.’ Continue reading

Smartphones Killed the Flip

The Flip is dead.  It’s a shame.  We use them a lot.   They’re a great, inexpensive research tool

The New York Times Technology section has a writeup on how smartphones devastated the Flip, and GPS devices.

Cisco’s inexperience with the consumer electronics market was another factor.

I had a personal experience with this less than two years ago.

On the way to a user research session at the Cleveland Clinic I got a call from a designer on our team.  He forgot to pack video cameras.

No problem.  I used my iPhone to find a store.  I stopped, bought a couple of Flip cameras and we were back in business.  I used my iPhone to get me back on track to my location.  I texted him that I was on my way and had new cameras.  Everything was under control.

I never suspected that the tool used to find those video cameras would be what killed them.  The next generation of that phone would eliminate my need to even make the stop.

Day Made of Glass: Glass Innovation or Too Much Like Minority Report?

I shared this video by Corning with my Product Planning students at Carnegie Mellon this week.  They had some great observations about the consistency of the interfaces.  The reaction was mostly positive.

They did expressed some concern with ubiquitous displays and how they might distract people from tasks like cooking or driving.

One student also mentioned that all that glass with touchscreen interaction, would lead to needing to clean up a lot of fingerprints.

I think it’s a great speculative piece how a set of technologies could look with the right integration and design.

I was a little worried when the kiosk in the clothing store recognized Jennifer and brought up items that would fit her shopping habits.  I’m not sure I want that level of convenience at the expense of the privacy you’d give up to get it.

Pittsburgh Design : Ladies Meet-Up

Pittsburgh’s beloved design blogger and creator of Steeltown Anthem, Dane Horvath,  is hosting a ‘Ladies Design Meet-Up‘ on Thursday January 27th.  Chat with other like minded designing ladies and share different perspectives on design.

Brillobox . 4104 Penn Ave
January 27th, 6:00pm – 7:30pm
Graphic . Web . Industrial . Interior designers