The Shift to Human-Centered Design & Technology
Sometimes a company’s senior executives discover a technology solution they think will save them time and money, so they force it on their employees. They think of themselves and how the technology’s promise of greater workplace productivity will save them a few bucks. What they should be thinking of, though, is their employees.
You can’t expect your employees to embrace new technology because you told them to. It may seem easy enough to you, but what you’ll end up with is employee frustration and resistance—which will lead to a drop in productivity and profit.
For technology solutions to work in your office, you can’t solely focus on the technology; your focus has to be on your employees, their behaviors and the office environment. This is where having a human-centered design mindset comes into play.
What is human-centered design?
Human-centered design is a creative approach to solving design and management problems by involving those you’re designing for throughout the process to help develop solutions specific to them and their needs.
According to Design Kit, an IDEO.org human-centered design learning platform, human-centered design involves 3 phases:
- Inspiration Phase: You work directly with the people you’re designing for and put yourself in their shoes so to speak to better understand their wants and needs.
- Ideation Phase: This is where your brain wheels start turning, as you try to make sense of what you’ve learned during the first phase and then come up with possible design opportunities and prototype solutions. You work on refining the good, bad and crazy ideas you come up with, and then you build tangible solutions you can give to those you’re creating them for. Without their testing and input, you won’t know if your design ideas are on track to meet their needs.
- Implementation Phase: The last phase is where your hard work and solution dreams become a successful reality.
How do I make the shift to human-centered design?
Besides implementing the 3 phrases mentioned above, here are 3 other ways you can start taking a human-centered design approach with your business.
Focus on people for better business success. Without people, you’d have no business. It’s not advanced technology that makes you truly successful; the center of any good business is the people using that technology making a day-to-day impact. What’s good for the people is good for your business, so with design thinking, first think about the people you’re designing for, and then consider the business and technical aspects. By focusing on your people first, you’re focusing on and making possible the success of your business.
Have an employee mentality. Your employees are the users of the technology and office design you create. This means every design decision must be made by asking, “From a user’s perspective, does this idea make sense?” When you’re in this mindset, you’re more able to figure out people’s latent needs, meaning you’ll be solving problems and identifying ones that have yet to be uncovered. That’s what global design and technology consultant company Nurun has done, and it’s brought them and their clients lots of success.
Use bodystorming. The Institute of Design at Stanford defines bodystorming as “a unique method that spans empathy work, ideation, and prototyping. Bodystorming is technique of physically experiencing a situation to derive new ideas. It requires setting up an experience - complete with necessary artifacts and people - and physically ‘testing’ it.” It’s a necessary step to take whenever you’re developing or changing any type of physical environment. If you’re ever stuck in the ideation phase, bodystorming with a small group of people will help you collect new ideas.
Where does human-centered technology come into play?
Like human-centered design, human-centered technology focuses on the needs and abilities of human users. Its goals are to make technology more efficient, safer and enjoyable for people to use.
Poorly designed technology isn’t sustainable and won’t be adopted by your employees. People have high expectations for technology and how it can fulfill their needs, and while most are good at adapting technology to fit their needs, when choosing new technology systems you want to choose human-centered ones. And you do that by knowing your users and their needs and getting their input and feedback on technology you think would be valuable for your company.
Everyone benefits from human-centered design. It provides the solutions that people want and need, while creating a company culture that embraces and promotes empathy and understanding. Human-centered design also helps with recruiting and retaining employees, and it will give you the improved productivity you want.