8 November 2017

From human-centered design to humanity-centered design

Be the first to share

The design industry’s reigning paradigm is in crisis. It’s time to evolve from human-centered design to humanity-centered design, write Artefact’s Rob Girling and Emilia Palaveeva.

If followed blindly and left unchecked, this cult of designing for the individual can have disastrous long-term consequences. A platform designed to connect becomes an addictive echo chamber with historic consequences (Facebook); an automation system designed to improve safety undermines our ability to seek information and make decisions (the plane autopilot); a way to experience a new destination like a local squeezes lower income residents out of affordable housing (Airbnb). Each of these examples is recognized as a real product or service design feat. Yet by focusing on the individual user alone, we often fail to take into account broader cognitive and social biases. By zeroing in on the short-term impact and benefits of our designs, we spare ourselves asking the really hard question: Are we designing a world we all want to live in today and tomorrow?

To be agents of positive change, we as designers need to think more broadly about the direct and secondary consequences of our work. We need to be clear-eyed about what we are striving to do and minimize the chances of creating more problems than we are trying to solve. To do that, we need to integrate our discipline with systems thinking, which entails understanding how systems work and evolve over time. This will allow us to anticipate and mitigate the negative longer-term consequences of well-intentioned solutions. As a result, we will be poised to design systems that have minimum negative impact, create and sustain equity, and build on technological advances without disrupting the foundations of society. We have the responsibility to evolve from human-centered design thinkers to humanity-centered designers.

Interesting too is their take on how “short-termism” (the cult of agile development, Silicon Valley’s “run fast and break things” ethos, even design thinking as a process with its emphasis on rapid prototyping, testing, iterating) prevents us “from solving the dizzying array of long-term problems we face: climate change, growing political instability and polarization, economic inequality, unsustainable social systems like social security and healthcare, digital systems compromising our privacy and security, and the specter of joblessness resulting from AI and automation.”

Be the first to share
20 November 2018
Journal of Business Anthropology devoted to design anthropology
The Journal of Business Anthropology is an Open Access journal which publishes the results of anthropological research in business organizations and business situations of all kinds. The theme of the latest issue - Vol 7, …
20 November 2018
[Book] Who can you trust?
Who can you trust? How Technology Brought Us Together and Why It Might Drive Us Apart by Rachel Botsman Public Affairs November 2017, 336 pages If you can’t trust those in charge, who can you trust? From government to business, …
19 November 2018
What are Europe’s rules for democratic artificial intelligence?
Vincenzo Tiani has written an excellent summary in Wired Italia of the recently published "Ethical Framework for a Good AI Society: Opportunities, Risks, Principles, and Recommendations", by AI4People, a task force of European experts. With the …
18 November 2018
Consumer behaviour and the circular economy
Report: Behavioural Study on Consumers’ Engagement in the Circular Economy London Economics for the European Commission – Consumers Health and Food Executive Agency (CHAFEA) 23 October 2018, 202 pages The objective of this study was to provide policy-relevant …
17 November 2018
[Book] Uberland: How Algorithms Are Rewriting The Rules Of Work
Uberland: How Algorithms Are Rewriting The Rules Of Work by Alex Rosenblat University of California Press October 2018, 296 pages Silicon Valley technology is transforming the way we work, and Uber is leading the charge. An American startup that …
10 November 2018
Experiential Futures: A brief outline
Stuart Candy (@futuryst), an award-winning foresight practitioner, Director of CMU Situation Lab and Associate Professor at Carnegie Mellon School of Design, recently wrote a short intro to Experiential Futures (XF) for designers interested in transition-oriented …
8 October 2018
Designing for positive impact and human flourishing
A few days ago Experientia attended the Service Design Days in Barcelona. One of the surprise presentations was by Anna Pohlmeyer, who co-directs the Delft Institute for Positive Design. Although the title seemed a bit airy …
1 October 2018
[Book] Left to Our Own Devices
Left to Our Own Devices: Outsmarting Smart Technology to Reclaim Our Relationships, Health, and Focus By Margaret E. Morris MIT Press, November 2018, 192 pages Unexpected ways that individuals adapt technology to reclaim what matters to them, from …

We are an international experience design consultancy helping companies and organisations to innovate their products, services and processes by putting people and their experiences first.

4 October 2018
Bringing​ ​patients into focus at the Roche Innovation Summit

Experientia is proud to have been a key participant at the Roche Innovation Summit, held at Roche headquarters in Basel Switzerland on 19 June 2018. Themed “​Transforming the Healthcare Experience Together​”, the summit aimed to galvanize the Roche community around the future transformation of healthcare and diagnostics. With 800 attendees from Roche and Genentech global […]

13 June 2018
Invito: DesAlps design thinking workshop per la tua startup

Hai una startup? Hai mai pensato ai benefici che potrebbe trarre dal Design Thinking? Questa è l’opportunità per scoprirlo! DesAlps Workshop #2: Il Design Thinking per la tua startup! Giovedì 28 giugno 2018 – dalle 9:30 alle 17:00 @ I3P | Corso Castelfidardo 30/a, Torino —– Nell’ambito del progetto europeo DesAlps, un team di esperti […]

3 May 2018
Invito: DesAlps innovation workshop per le PMI del territorio piemontese

Experientia è lieta di invitare le piccole e medie imprese del territorio piemontese al: DesAlps Workshop #1: Il Design Thinking per le PMI Venerdì 18 maggio 2018 – dalle 9.00 alle 17.30 @ Rinascimenti Sociali | via Maria Vittoria 38, Torino Scopri i vantaggi che il Design Thinking può portare al tuo business per prepararvi […]

27 April 2018
Impact through Design – Event in Turin, Italy

(Scroll down for English) Come può il design generare impatto? In continuità con il summit International Days of Deans and Experts: Impact Through Design (Barcellona, aprile 2018) Torino ospita il primo evento dedicato alla prospettiva italiana sull’impatto generato attraverso il design in riferimento ai Sustainable Development Goals definiti dalle Nazioni Unite. Attori dell’ecosistema territoriale ed […]

26 February 2018
Designing Patient Solutions with Meaning: Review of technology and health apps for a better patient experience

Technology is radically changing the world of healthcare and acts at different levels in support of different stakeholders. There are several digital tools on the market (e.g. wearables, virtual reality, robotics, etc.), many of which work in integration with each other, for example, wearables connected to IOT applications. Experientia’s report provide an overview of some […]

22 December 2017
Happy new year 2018!
See all articles