People First
People First avatar

I am a designer, and as you might guess, a forum that includes thought leaders on policy and economics is intimidating to me, so I’ve had to brush up on my reading. During the past week I’ve been learning about our host country, Argentina. Several items have piqued my interest, especially given the sustained growth of public disappointment with governments around the globe a la Occupy (Your Name Here). Argentina’s economy has improved dramatically over the last decade after a horrendous collapse. People are happy about this according to researchers. I want to see it for myself and I’m glad I can!

If you listen to politicians and their arguments for solving our biggest crises, they are being boiled down to state vs. market. Which one should have the most freedom or control? Let’s be honest, both have failed us so it’s safe to say the answer is not any more black and white than the problem. Continuing the debate at a high altitude is not going to lead to actionable change. It’s going to be much more complicated because we – humanity – are complicated.

During the forum I’ll be wearing my citizen hat at a lower altitude— the ground. When challenges are brought forth I’ll be trying to understand from an individual’s point of view. By starting here I’ll be able to ask questions that might help define opportunities for design, opportunities that may lead to the social cohesion we desire. For example, how do people work around the system? What are their circumstances that have created this? What does that teach us about their values or latent needs?

This is the beginning of design: starting with the experiences of people. We identify the behaviors needed to create an ideal experience, then figure out what must be made, sold or written into law. It’s not an easy task— many times we (the people) don’t know what we need, so asking us doesn’t help. We are motivated more by our experiences than our beliefs, but we often speak from our beliefs rather than from our experiences. Learning how to observe is a key to overcoming this paradox so that you can design (or innovate) a solution. That said, I’ll be out and about this afternoon observing, and look forward to sharing more tomorrow when we kick off.

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