Surya is an educator, speaker, and founder with over 25 years of experience as a transdisciplinary design practitioner working at the leading edge of physical and digital design.
In 2014, he started Authentic Design with the mission to help unlock creative potential through the power of the design process. He is also the creator of Design Swarms, an agile design approach that has been used to tackle challenges worldwide. Surya has also served as President of Design in Public & the Seattle Design Festival, Chair of Interaction Week 2019, and Chair of the Industrial Design Conference in 2015. Previously, he was Director of User Experience at Microsoft, a tenured professor of design, and an award-winning industrial designer. His work has appeared in numerous publications and news programs, including TEDx, Form, I.D., Design Council, WIRED, the BBC and National Public Radio.
“It's a deeply political act when you make something, it is a political act of providing empowerment and helping drive justice.Surya Vanka : Founder + Creator / Authentic Design + Design Swarms
Resources & Social
Surya discussing Design Swarms
Victor Papanek Wiki
- National Institute of Design in India, founded by Charles Eames
- Richard Buchanan's Wicked Problems in Design Thinking
- Richard Buchanan Wiki
- Surya's TEDxHongKong talk "Extraordinary Experiences"
Surya on the cover of DesignIndia
Surya on Instagram
Surya on Twitter
Surya on Linkedin
Wilma: Hi, everyone and welcome back to Optimistic Design, a speaker series where we take a practical positive look at the future of design, ethical innovation, and technology.
I’m your host Wilma Lam, Associate Director of Strategy, here at Substantial and today I’m excited to be talking with Surya Vanka.
Wilma: Surya is a design leader, with over 25 years of experience working at the leading edge of physical and digital design. In 2014 He founded authentic design with the mission to help unlock creative potential through the power of the design process. He's also the creator of design swarms, an agile design approach used to tackle complex global challenges.
Previously, Surya was also director of user experience at Microsoft, a tenured Professor of design and an award-winning industrial designer. Surya also served as President of Design in Public and chaired multiple design conferences. Hi Surya, welcome, and thank you for joining me today!
Surya: So great to be here, thank you for having me.
Wilma: We're very excited to have you.
So just to kick things off I’d love to hear from you, you know, how did you get into the world of design?
Surya: Yeah so that was a while ago. The way I got into -- ever since I was young. I was a tinkerer. I was drawing stuff tinkering.
And I was growing up in India, where I was early in the time of design maturity of India and there was one design school and that one design school across all of India took 25 students. I didn't even know about it, I didn't know, there was something called design the school was awesome. It was started by Charles Eames.
Surya: In India, but it's kind of tucked away in a completely different part of India than I was in, and so I knew there was this thing I wanted to do. I didn't know it had a name.
This thing called design, and so I went into the closest other profession that I could think of which was engineering and I happened to do that in the city called Chandigarh studying engineering and my engineering school --
Surya: The classroom that I’ve seen had a window and through that window when I looked out there was a building and I could see so every time I was in…Engineering school I’d look at this beautiful building that looked very different from everything else that got me really curious. And I went and investigated that building was built by a beautiful lake called Lake Curiosa. And then I investigated that. What is this building that's colorful and looks different and is different shape and all that and I learned, there was a discipline called architecture and then there's another discipline, similar to that called design and that took me down the rabbit hole.
And as it turned out, I applied to this one design school in India – I was lucky to be one of those 25 people that one year to be admitted and that began my story of getting into design and it was just an amazing eye-opening experience, a life changing experience for me to begin this adventure in design.
Wilma: So, from that early experience of getting into design school, I mean all the way to today, are there any you know mentors or experiences that really shaped and inspired how you work now?
Surya: yeah, I think some of those seeds were really planted in my first few weeks and months in. When I started in the National Institute of Design within a city called Ahmedabad when I first joined the design school.
Like any 18-year-old I was thinking about wanting to go and design really cool stuff. I want to design fast cars, I want to design fashion. I want to design these amazing things and all these visual things that I’ve seen from superstars and in magazines and so on.
In the first few months as we started studying the works of folks like Victor Papanek I realized this thing called design there's two aspects to it. One is it's a deeply political act when you make something, it is a political act of providing, empowerment helping drive justice so that is really interesting and so that really shaped my thinking, the other part, was this astonishing discovery that design is not magic. It doesn't just come out of nowhere.
Surya: So, there is this thing called the design process and boy isn't this so exciting that each time we did a different project will get a different project and we kept using the same process, and then the results were really amazing.
And so, I got really hooked on these two things to design with purpose and design and the design process and those you know, later on, I went to graduate school at the Ohio State University and there after I --you know, add got a superb design education, so I dive deeper into other fields like cognitive science and anthropology and computation methods, but the design process and the notion of the purposeful design stuck through all of that. So for me, those are really foundational learnings very early in my design career.
Wilma: Yeah and I mentioned at the start of our conversation a little bit about Authentic Design. And it seems like that's really related to this perspective, you have about design's relationship to justice and the need for purpose, can you talk a little bit about what authentic design is and what you're working on now?
Surya: Sure absolutely. So Authentic Design is you know, it's a consulting practice that I’ve been running for about five plus years but before that I had spent a long time in the corporate world 16 years at Microsoft and spend time in the world of research and academia at the University of Illinois. So I come to this world of having this consulting practice after all of the experiences and, for me, what has really emerged was really the word that pops to the surface, for me, is really authenticity. Authenticity is that very, very, very important word in design.
Surya: As a designer you know my quest always to find the simplest enduring essential solutions. And those that are truly authentic to the problem to the situation to the user to the customer and so that was the also the inspiration behind the name and behind the work. You know, and I think this notion of authenticity, for me, runs really deep, because it is at the craft layer…I’m an industrial designer by training and interaction designer, also by training. And by practice and in both cases the craft layer… authenticity is about you know, finding those native forms that truly respond to the problem and take the form as solutions.
That was the sametime when I was working at plastic can stainless steel and injection molding again forming of physical materials to find that perfect form. And it's the same looking at pixels and algorithms and data, so this notion of really discovery of an uncovering form, you know, be it at the level of the final artifact that will creates or even the situation.
What is the problem we're trying to solve? How we trying to empower people, what is the authentic way to empower community, what is the authentic way to empower somebody have a particular user group me, maybe they, growing older maybe they've got some ability or disability, maybe they've got a part of a certain age group, or so on, right, what is the authentic way to do that? And so that that was really the quest when I started authentic design.
The really hard problems in the world today and what are the authentic solutions we can find for these problems.
And that's what got me on the journey.
Wilma: Yeah that makes a lot of sense and as you've talked about Authentic Design, I mean you also talked about how important it is to you. As far as the design process, you really empower people, and I think this is really related to why you created a design swarms. So could you talk a little bit about you know what is “swarm behavior”?'' and how did that lead you to creating the design swarm concept?
Surya: Absolutely, yes, so. I don't think design it's been a process of running learning and running a whole bunch of experiments and through that learning and running experiments.
One of the --so, there was an observation that I’ve had after running many corporate design teams as many teams as a consultant many various teams and just reflecting on which teams tended to have the most impactful results. And I noticed a pattern. And for me the teams that were able to solve things quickly and elegantly didn't function like top down command and control systems.
Rather, they were nimble and agile, they were cooperative, they worked together and raised each other, they were more like nimble ant farms. Like fish. That was very adaptive and responsive as particularly in difficult problems that they will quickly adapt and learn and gracefully find their way around obstacles and work together to solve solutions now.
True, you know I had the opportunity, been really fortunate to talk design thinking, one way or the other by 25,000 people you know. In all the various organizations that I’ve been part of and sometimes and that's a very, very powerful frame.
I found that when one can take design thinking and create swarms together these two come together to form this really very, very powerful framework. Where we've got a scaffold for unleashing creativity, the design thinking process and the swarm behaviors a way that we can have collective animation.
And those two came together to become designs forms designs forms, you know, the core of it, there are few ideas right the one idea of course is.
Surya: A clear, simple well-orchestrated visible process that everybody is aligned with, so that people can amplify each other's superpowers, rather than cancel each other out.
So that's one corner stone. The other notion is the notion of concurrency when different folks are working in teams. On a challenge and working concurrently and the processes setup so they can be cooperative, then we can increase velocity dramatically, and then become really, really important and hands, because.
If you think about it, what has changed on time. Problems have become far more complex and because problems have become far more complicated because most problems we deal with now our ecosystem problems so they're very complicated, they are a lot of connected pieces and because of that we have to go much deeper.
Surya: To solve any problems so that's one aspect of the problems would be solved in a beat in business being social impact beat startups be an education, healthcare, whatever right problems, a much deeper there's another need that has appeared, which is in need to go faster and faster and faster.
Which pulls in the opposite direction, which is how you go faster and faster and faster, and we have to go faster because of market forces that need to move faster, but also because the world is changing fast, and we have to respond to it faster, so these two things, the need to go deeper and the need to go faster pull in different directions.
The power of design swarms is that one gives us a way to address those by bringing collective design. When multiple people are working on a problem you can gain understanding of the problem far more quickly if you have a well-orchestrated process that can cause confusion, otherwise, and when you have a well-orchestrated clear process it also helps you solve faster.
Surya: So that’s the cornerstone of the process, you know where it came from was actually the need to serve those problems and those communities which had extremely low design resources. Right, and so there was an those constraints led to this notion of let's find a way to do this, where there's very few design thinkers but they're very hard problems of collective design and using designs swarms but it's been very handy that is now matured enough that is used, also in design rich places like enterprise design.
Wilma: Yeah, so for any of our listeners or watchers out there that are interested in design swarms could you explain what it's like to take part in one?
Surya: Absolutely so design swarms and you know from the sort of more abstract notion that describes. They’re instrumented with process maps, so there are, there's a Lego kit of process maps which come together to create what I think of as Problem Solving surfaces, depending on the problem.
So, if one can profile what kind of a problem, a problem is, is it a fuzzy front end problem is a problem that requires a lot of iteration at the end is a just a wicked problem that, as you know, it's got all kinds of moving parts and you need to understand a lot of different you can profile problems, right?
Based on profiling problems, one can put together a Problem Solving surface. Now the problem-solving surface is the process, the power of process maps is that humans can work together on a visible representation of the design process and work their way through that right. It used to have done a lot of these. On paper right there's me in situations where that's the only way it works, you know work with refugee communities and like folks after an earthquake we just go there with this process math either you know, maybe I got.
Three feet high and two feet wide and see the series of it and you put them up on a wall and then people look through it and they can now the same process maps are things that are done on digital whiteboards right.
So at the core of our process, then there are sets of resources that you know you can't just have a process map and say go do stuff and a process map, because people don't have the training. So there are learning resources that go along with it and facilitate leading people through that entire process, right there the call notion again is there's not one team going to one process map that multiple teams that parallel using the same process maps solving the same problem, but using these tools off the representation of the process of the process, as well as learning resources to be able to march through each step of the problem-solving process the design thinking process really.
Wilma: yeah, no that's really helpful just to understand what a design swarm typically is. But now I imagine there's been changes to how you work with teams and how you work in and design swarm given the pandemic, the last year and a half. Could you speak to you know what's changed with digital collaboration and how do you think this is going to impact the future designs forms?
Surya: Yeah, that's an excellent question because when we could no longer travel and then we could no longer spend time beginning the same room thinking. You know the way I run this process for hundreds of times was dependent on really as a facilitator to really move and shape the energies in the room to inspire the boy to lead people and do all the kind of social dynamics that a creative space needs right and really in a sense of recreate the design to you right and which required, you know people coming together in groups, gazing at what the work they've done negotiating that having conversations having good conflict and all of that, I think how.
Now, if people are going to be separate and looking at their own screens, yes we've got digital whiteboards this is going to be like a poor second cousin of the process. Right, so I was a little bit I was worried how's it going to scale instead of people do it for a bit, and then we go back to doing it where we set up rooms in casually but the right sightlines and you know the organization of the room, we set up the supplies and we set up the inspirational space empathy was all those kind of things that.
I have been pleasantly surprised.I have been really pleasantly surprised because. Moving designs forms to a digital. Online swarm space has really transformed the process in many ways, so here are a few things.
So when we think we're designed to do, we think about a workshop, and so on, and you think of facilitated. I can typically scan next just to one person or two people or a few people.
And I can make eye contact, I can see how they are actually responding to what's happening and do what is needed as a facilitator to move things forward, I can see, look into the eyes of the person who is 30 feet away at the end of the corner of the room now, when we have. Digital whiteboards and conferencing systems, get a chance to be as close to anyone in the room, this Lee this little thing is a game changer because now it creates equal voice.
Right, the other thing that happens that I find is really fascinating is you know these processes of design very much lean upon you know these boards, because what we're doing is designers holistic and therefore we never want to lose sight of the whole.
Surya: And the way we do that is by using walls and on walls, we put sticky notes and diagrams and pictures and notes and all of that, and so we never lose the whole view of the problem that's fundamental to the design right.
And, but when we work together, it could be that the large man standing in front of the board hides that visibility from maybe the smaller woman standing behind him. The nice thing about digital whiteboards is our bodies are invisible so we all continuously see what each other does.
Surya: And because we see what each other does we get a very dynamic view of what's happening in not only what's happening on these boards, but what's happening in people's minds.Or is it is evolved. We have other kinds of opportunities which are really, really interesting.
I kind of bring customers into workshops, sometimes in co creation, with the customers themselves with users themselves, but if it is not add bring customers in. They come in for a little bit during some part of the process, and then they step out and we go back to saying it's always a bit of a challenge, but now customer droppings become very easy, so if you get stuck at some point you just own the customer into your meeting, so this for me is non trivial because How did we do, how do we do this, typically we go go and do research to understand people who are not us.
Then we create abstractions of them called personas or other kinds of evidence mechanisms, and then we design against those and then we move along our process, and then we go back into the real humans who we use data from to create those abstractions. When we can have the real humans themselves come in and be part of the process, you know and in creative ways it's more powerful than challenges as a lot of logistics. logistics and that has its own weight, but with these kinds of processes and the way that interconnects digital. Infrastructure lets us have these droppings it makes it really interesting the other aspect is from being a purely synchronous process now we have the opportunity of being asynchronous about opens up all kinds of opportunities right because people think at different speeds.Some people think faster some people are more deliberate and slower, it allows everyone to now participate in their own pace and maybe the you know from just create and running these sessions as a facilitator designer and workshop designer. The nice thing is till five minutes before you start something you can respond to new information coming right. Usually you had to wrap that up a couple of days before because you're a production to take care of.
So you can go really late in the cycle and not only to start, but you can adapt the tool and the infrastructure and the problem solving surface continuously. You know me if you know and the final thing I think, which is really the biggest piece of this. Now that we are here, I’m doing these forums online. We have a new actor that comes in and that's data. Everything that people do is data now, you can bring in the virtuous loop of data to start informing the process.
And beauty is not just the process you're in right now, you can use that data to inform the process of all future designs forms as well, so that's very, very powerful. You know, into summer, you know there's a lot to say. To summarize, I think the power that I have discovered is really now that this gives me the ability to bring even more people who are not part of the innovation process now into the innovation process so I’m really excited next week I'll be running swarm in Sierra Leone with the young folks on on gender violence, and some of them won't use computers, they run do it from their phones maybe.
Right and, But now we have the means to be able to reach folks on the left, rather than design down for others, let everybody's creative potential help shape the solutions for themselves and even for others, so that gets super powerful.
Wilma: Now that's really helpful, just articulate you know how it's changed over the last 18 months and sounds like it's changed a lot.
Surya: It's going to love it, you're going to change a lot.
Wilma: yeah no it's definitely been an interesting year to be in design and be working in this field, the other thing I want to make sure that we touch upon. That they use spoken about four is the kinds of evolution of design industry and also design maturity within organizations. You've talked about this idea of design 1.0 to design for point now can you talk more about that framework, and how you understand design maturity.
Surya: yeah so this framing which is really a framing of the four scales of design, this is not my original framing this goes back to thinking. Maybe, even as long ago as 1972 Richard Buchanan who wrote about the Fourth Order of Design, and I am stealing from that and also the work of folks are built on Buchanan's were collect Gary van Patten, who actually is the one who introduced the notion of using the numbers.
And I’m building on top of that, so just you know, giving credit where credit is due, but the important piece over here is. So if we think about these four orders of design of the four scales of design that design functions that you can think of, one point O is a designer products and communications. You read this thing that we all learn in design school: how do you design this great well designed product and the perfect message well design, you know the right colors, the font and all that we all deeply loved the next level or a designer next step. designed to point O is designed for experiences and services.
Now, when we're taking the narrative frame and we're looking at how things unfold over time right and multi touch experiences on the channel all of those things redness and you know this is really. Where we think about if you want to take field service design right, so we can think about that as the evolution of designed to design 2.0 and design 3.0 which is really where we are right now is designed for organizational transformation.
Right and more of the business success stories we've seen in the last 20 years had been designed 3.0 success stories, when the apple right airbnb Microsoft is the Australian tech system raining all of these success stories that have happened around the world on design it's about multiple people teams using design thinking and driving organizational transformation and badly designed for point Oh, is designed at social and planetary scale right and I, that is the part of the evolution, that is taking place right now.
And we're moving towards that we haven't had too much for either vocabulary or a commitment or focus to attack, but that's the movie and you know the pandemic has been an accelerant which these kind of intentions needs that becoming clearer right, we see it, the rise of inclusive design right, the fact that we're all talking about inclusion.
The fact that we're starting to build these inclusive design frameworks, you know bulk of authentic work now is really in helping organizations to operationalize inclusive design. Because organizations are recognizing the need to do that, that.
You know, for me, this goes, all the way back to the beginning of our conversation, all the way back to my first few weeks in design school picking up design for the real world and the notion of design is a political act know and that's what design for point of a scale designing for scale and designing for this particular moment when.
Our own planet is in trouble right now and we've got a bunch of different things happening at the same time, a bunch of challenges that need to be taken care of saying that we can't pretend that the most important thing to do in design Is make better icons or create better shopping experiences. And limit us, those are very important, but we can't limit ourselves to those or build more profitable companies, we have women, while we do all of those were recognized as an opportunity for design to have.
A much larger impact and then design has something unique that it brings that can contribute to that that you know that there's a way of thinking that other fields don't have, and that by adding to the mix. Design has an opportunity in a responsibility to contribute at this moment and that's designed for point oh.
Wilma: yeah I really want to dig into you know the all the concepts that you just mentioned around design for pie, now we talked a little bit earlier about you know, making it inclusive of more people also democratizing the design process and, as you just mentioned, there are a lot of organizations, you know right now that they know how to do design 1.0 and 2.0 and quite a few that have moved into three point O space. But as a designer or if you're part of a design and design and strategy team, what does that actually mean to set up, you know for success moving into design 4.0.
Surya: yeah so for the first Business designed 4.0 doesn't replace one point or 2.0 3.0 you can do the work that we need doing it is simply but expanding the work that we do. This is so that we are able to take care of the entire stack right they don't limit yourself just to be able to doing one point of work or two point of work that we find one that you have the ability of being a full stack organization a full stack designer that is able to be a function at all of those and even if you're doing a four point or work.
You know and take your big problem they're part of it, you can have to create products and communications and you want those very well designed. And you're going to have to create journeys and experiences and services, those need to be well designed.
And you need to be able to transform organizations and bring this line to the Center of your organization that still exists, so it doesn't replace that it is just expanding the scope and the leadership right and the important. And why it becomes important, though, for the organizations that are going to be successful in the 21st century is because the nature of the kinds of problems we solve are interconnected problems.
Right, so it is the organizations that are able to bring multiple disciplines are able to have the ability to have the right kind of research to be able to bring the thinking that. Has sophistication and the modeling to be able to look at all of that will be able to take on this next level of capability, this next level of scale designed for point or work right, and you know if I look at the work that the authentic engagement, you know.
Monday we're doing at very much 1.0 work which someone posts so it's about visual design of digital dashboards for something the right way. It's really about making some choices to make some information architecture better and just visualization better. But it is hooked into something that is larger that is helping move the needle somewhere else right and so so so that's so you can almost think these are next right.
Where there's forming don't doesn't replace, and so the question really is ``So how do you grow?” How do you grow it to their, you know as an individual as an organization well The good news is at this particular moment in time. The level of conversation that is taking place in designed communities is growing in sophistication.
More and more, you know again I'll come back to inclusive design, you know that some of the richest conversation or inclusion is happening in the world of design right now. Right, some of the richest conversations about data and the ethics around data are happening in the design discipline right now right so there's a lot of these conversations that are happening, so the way to grow, is to get engaged into these conversations and also to truly truly take on a learning mindset, I am learning more these days about design than I was learning when I was a student.
I know that the need to really up my own learning my own game right there's so much that you know I’m right now deep into, You know, working and learning and creating frameworks and partnering folks on conversation design. Right and why, because I think, as we move into a world that. You know that becomes more and more about and being the computing that's going to be important, but now, when we what becomes important for me as somebody who plays a leadership role and.
Some of these disciplines, is where is that intersection now between conversation design and inclusive design I don't know and I’m not gonna be able to figure it out, myself and the only way I can do it is by leaning into Community. And all the smart minds so at this moment, you know we all, you know growth mindsets are kind of a hard word, you know a lot of people talk about but truly in design, if you really want to grow it you have to have a growth mindset this stuff is changing so quickly yeah.
Wilma: So, speaking of Community and growth, one of the things I think is incredibly interesting about you and your work as it's truly a global practice and you get this kind of insight and ability to see into design communities around the globe so I’d love to hear from you, are there any key learnings that you've gained from the kind of breadth of the global design three me.
Surya: yeah you know, one of the learnings for me, has been the so there was when I just I’m loving our conversation to come get to reflect on this time from when I design student and you know it, thank you for starting a conversation that because it's such an important framing so remember when I was a young designer in India learning about this amazing field.I was this fan of German design a fan of Italian design and a fan of Japanese design and, for me, there was a sense that there was there is so much which European design in these in these communities it felt very, very far away from my own experience when I was you know know working environment, but then did not have much design mature. Right, it was just learning the early steps what and so that has been part of how are designed communities have been structured there's some places that are more advanced and some places, though lesson bands and then we kind of know here this Japanese design German design, this is interesting time in the 80s as American designer for certain time and so the world is structured a little bit different as seed now, when I was when I connect with communities across the world, I think, are designed tribes, and no longer defined regionally geographically or by nation.
Because what's happened. All using the same tools they're all using the adobe set of tools and they're all using the Sigma set to do, then they envisioned that. We will seem to be using the same platform to share our work we're using the same processes, and we are all looking at the same sources of inspiration across the whole world wherever I go, we have you know those that group set the platform, the same So what is emerging, that is really interesting is the new design trends, the design prime of industrial designers design tribe of interaction designers the tribe of service designers. The tribe newly formed credit transition designers the conversation designers right and that. We have these different communities of design practice and that's what you know, and for me it's been really interesting because I’m so interested in the design process that I, for one reason or another. Because my career has been trance disciplinary and also within design kind of connected all of these different tribes, many of the tribes, and so what's really interesting is to see the insights emerging in each of these different areas, in a different way, so if in some way we've gone from vertical to horizontal or something like that right and that's been that's been super super interesting to see see that change, you know and having said that another thing that's really emerging is some.
Now that I’ve said that they described there also some very, very interesting pockets of where folks on mining into local needs and inspirations to create new ways to approach, as I, you know I see I see some I see a lot of that happening right now there's a lot of energy of that happening in India, which I’m very familiar with amazing design community forming that.
I see that happening somewhere with the hardware hacking community in southern China or on Shen Jen and so on. Right and there's different communities that are forming so the way I like to think about what's happening in the world of business, we have got these tribes and we've got these new liberties with a new is being created.
Wilma: Now this is really interesting and and I love this idea that you brought up of moving from kind of vertical to horizontal. Free sign a couple things I want to ask so. So one is you know you've worked with the intersection of kind of design, technology and innovation for the last 25 years even seen a lot of this evolve.
And the other thing I’m just reflecting back on your earlier answer about design education is you know when they I want to ask you, as you reflect on how the industry's changed it's become more globalized there's more of these pockets were increasingly horizontal.
Do you think that design education itself needs to change, or do you think it has been changing, along with the industry?
Surya: But I think design education is changing is changing fast enough that's Another question is changing us in the right direction, so obviously design a receipt all over this there is.
You know design is hot nobody is going to deny that right design is just really hot all over the planet, right now, and so we have one phenomenon that we see happening design education is just a lot more places offering that are just going back to India and the fact that those one school that had 25 students now, I think the number is 5000 industrial designers being graduated a year.
Right, and you know in some of these China's got a bigger number than that so there's a lot of different schools right, so there is that level of sort of a base level of design basic level of design education being provided there are some places that are starting to take. Design education and really move it in areas that are sort of preparing those four point design 4.0 designers. Where there are efforts to really tie social impact right back into the design programs, the other programs that have become very deep in terms of technology. Right, so what we also seeing in design education that different kinds of emphasis the place that I’m not sure, and I haven't seen enough of yet Is design education truly training folks for what is right now, a key skill for designers so what happened in design right we spent 20 years fighting for a seat at the table. And then we got it and we got a seat at the table, but then we found many times, not only did we have a seat at the table, we have the head of the table. Right, and they said oops what do I do with this now because now it is not just being.
Another voice and the room is often taking on a leadership role lead, this is an experience economy and if designers understand how to do experience innovation if you think about it, sort of the three phases how of how innovation may evolve in many organizations typically start with product innovation, technology innovation, technology innovation. Then move into product innovation and then into experience innovation almost everybody's engaged in the experience innovation phase right which builds on the technology innovation and the business innovation it's that last bit and who's got the experiences in that area it folks have studied how to do that and understand how it is to innovate and experience the stage that Stage Three innovation and so designers often being asked.
All right, here's a seat at the table, lead and that's where. The skills of leadership which are now not just how do you do lead within your silo of design, but how do you lead multi disciplinary teams, how do you understand business right, how do you do all those things and good leaders have to do right.
That is what people are trying to learn on the fly and so that's a place that design education is got our role as an opportunity and a role to play, is recognizing that design has shifted the role of design in the world has shifted right. And sometimes design schools may very often design schools are preparing designers to work in the old model where you were sort of this brilliant talented person who sat on the edge and made incredibly clever beautiful.Things and propose them to somebody else who made the hard decisions on whether these would actually be the things that your organization or investing to put into the market, and so on, that has shifted.
Now too much more different kinds of partnerships oftentimes with the leading was and so that's the opportunity for design education to really up its game. You know, and there are a couple of places that are have been talking about that for a little while were you know looking design in business, but I think that's an opportunity yeah.
Wilma: So reflecting on kind of the you know we've covered a lot of topics today I’d love to hear from you what is top of mind today, as you think about the future of design and technology, like what are you optimistic about the future?
Surya: So I think you know clearly this also design and technology and design between digital technology, when we talk about right when we say tech, we mean digital tech, most of the time.So you know we've gone through.
John Mater has been a proponent proponent of this in his design and tech report of how we've gone to the age of design the age of design superstars right and design as this cool thing black box designers just create this magic and we went to to the age of design thinking where we designed it down into your aesthetic and it was done by teams and it was tied to this sort of large organizational change and we moved into this age of computation design right where now and digital technologies are very much baked into the process, whether it is working with thing working with things that are digital using digital platforms to create them. Working with like your Ai body to create design right and you know fundamentally also, and perhaps most importantly, that now the conversation between designer and the beneficiary of design the user, the customer bridging that because of the way that communication now has become.
A part of the design process so they're all of those right and all of those and you know those are very powerful ways that designers change that we don't get we don't get to go back to any that is fun, that is the way that design is stuff so, but when I think about design and technology, there are a couple of things that really are top of mind for me right.
One is this notion that none of this big when we talk about the scale of design that we do today, the enormous scale that we do it at given then digital design 10 square very large scale, the first product and designed with us by maybe at the most 200,000 people.
Right and since then the kind of products more recently I’ve been more used by two or 3 billion people. Right, so that scale and, of course, with that scale just because I scale the diversity of people that I know and I impact either positively or negatively also tends to increase, and so our choices have stopped being neutral.
Wilma: You know.
Surya: Any small choice can have magnified impacts right and so now, how do we make sure that whole working in the area that we put extraordinary emphasis on making sure of the impact of that so that's one level the other part, is when we've got these when we got these technologies. You know this is, we are living sort of in this renaissance of this technology right there's a new technology, every week or every two weeks for me take, for example blockchain. Right, I'm quite excited by the potential of blockchain and design at the moment when we think of blockchain and primarily think of crypto. Right, we think of cryptocurrencies without thinking about nfp and we are thinking about nfc fees and art and so on, and sometimes that conversation gets mixed up about.
That about design, so I think as a designer I think of the incredible opportunities that NFTs has to be able to give design creative ownership back to the leaf node of people who create designs. So let me explain that, because we've got technology now that we can use to democratize the process of design, so going back to design swarms, you have a whole bunch of people are creating designs there's creating IP.
And now we've got technology like block chain that lets us be very thoughtful about design and then swarm.
Right about who are creators, how is everybody getting rewarded for their creativity?. So I think when I think about technology it's like trying to stay on top of these emerging technologies that are very powerful so that the end up serving users ends up serving humans and they don't become runaway trains. That we are deploying without being careful about what those downstream implications are and cause.
You know, cause chaos, because of that, so I think that's the frame that I think about these technologies about, we need to So what does that mean as a designer I need to get reasonably expert in my understanding of what technologies are and then think about come back to design and see what is the impact that technology can have, so we can do better design design that's just design that adds value design that makes life better for everybody, you know and so that's kind of how I think about design and I kind of went all over the place, with that answer but yeah you know, in a nutshell that's how I think about it.
Wilma: Yeah now well Thank you so much for joining me today is wonderful having you on.
Surya: Oh, what a pleasure, thank you for your love this conversation.
Wilma: I did as well.
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