Harnessing the Creative Potential of Social Design

design

The Importance of Social Design

I read widely to challenge and expand my thinking. In The Intergalactic Design Guide: Harnessing the Creative Potential of Social Design, Cheryl Heller presents a system for putting social design into action. This takes creative abilities and puts them into practice. It’s different.

Cheryl Heller is the founding chair of the first MFA program in Design for Social Innovation at the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan.

 

What is social design?

Social Design is the design of the invisible dynamics and relationships that affect society and the future. It’s the creation of new social conditions intended to increase human agency, creativity, equity, resilience, and our connection to nature.

It is essentially the same process used to develop innovative products and services, but applied at a larger scale. Instead of a small team of expert designers being responsible for the creative output or product, however, social design is done by cross-disciplinary teams, including both people inside the company and in external stakeholder communities. The goal, in addition to breakthrough products and services, is breakthrough interactions between people that lead to ongoing innovation. Because the process is participatory, everyone learns to do it. Because learning to do it instills a greater sense of agency and possibilities, everyone who participates is transformed.

 

“Social designers are resourceful, observant, open minded and able to live and work with ambiguity.” -Cheryl Heller

 

Social Design versus Traditional Design

How is it different from traditional design?

Social Design differs from traditional approaches in several important ways:

‣ It looks far beyond design thinking, which has made significant inroads in business, education and social organizations in recent years. It is an iterative process for developing alternative ideas and strategies based on understanding a “user” and a specific problem. Social design’s purview is whole communities or societies.

‣ The design process isn’t relegated to a team of designers, or isolated in a specific phase of the research and development process. Cross-departmental teams, some of whom are designers, are formed around a particular goal or outcome, and everyone participates in the entire process. What are typically sequential activities, performed by a series of experts, like research, problem framing, synthesis, ideation, testing and the like, are collapsed into a series of fluid stages in which everyone’s perspectives are integrated. This not only surfaces opportunities and challenges early, but also gives everyone access to insights that make them smarter, regardless of which stage they are accountable for.

‣ Social design relies on observation and inquiry rather than formal strategies and fixed plans. Preconceived ideas, however brilliant they sound, are to be avoided. Research is undertaken not to prove a theory, but to understand context and reframe questions. Answers are not determined in advance. The ultimate outcome may be fixed and inviolate, but not the step-by-step path to getting there. Observation of patterns, of unexpected reactions, whether in team members or customers, become the source of inspiration and invention—the real-time feedback that makes the idea, when it is developed, far more likely to work and succeed.

‣ Social design employs “making to learn.” That means giving ideas form to which others can react and help refine in collaborative fashion. Instead of waiting to get an idea “perfect” before showing it to its intended audience, users respond to versions in unfinished stages, and that input is incorporated into the design. Making-to-learn relies on iteration, and requires the freedom to pivot along the way, sometimes abandoning an idea, but always long before a big investment has been made. Giving form to ideas makes those ideas more appropriate to the people for whom they’re intended and makes them accessible to more people, and more diverse perspectives, as they’re developed.

‣ The outputs aren’t PowerPoint slides and Excel spreadsheets. Instead, they are maps and sketches and images and pictures underpinned with data that bring to life the entire ecosystem of stakeholders and forces in play. These visual outputs help make sure diverse people are seeing the same thing and can uncover otherwise hidden dynamics.

 

“Social design relies on observation and inquiry rather than formal strategies and fixed plans.” -Cheryl Heller

 

How is the role of the designer changing today?

The Future of Humans in an Increasingly Robotic World

Humanity Works

The professional landscape is transforming, and the only way to maintain competitive advantage is to maximize the unique skills of your workforce. In Humanity Works: Merging Technologies and People for the Workforce of the Future, consultant and futurist Alexandra Levit provides a guide to making the most of the human traits of creativity, judgment, problem solving and interpersonal sensitivity.

If you’ve ever wondered what the ‘robot takeover’ will look like, how talent and machines can work side by side and how you can make organizational structures more agile and innovation focused, you will be interested in Alexandra’s work. I recently spoke with her about her research and observations.

 

“Enlightened 21st-century leaders will abandon command-and-control to diplomatically govern their organizations.” -Alexandra Levit

 

When Robots Do More

You cover some sweeping trends. Would you share a few of the macro themes that are the backdrop of your work?

The book addresses a few essential questions: In a world where robots can do more and more, where does that leave us as humans? How will leaders build integrated human teams that can compete in a business world with constant evolutions and disruptions while remaining productive, marketable and sane? We explore the demographics, technological advances, work structures, organizational priorities, leadership models, individual career paths and human roles coming to fruition in the immediate years to come.

 

“The speed with which information populates the online world means with one wrong move, your organization’s reputation could be in jeopardy.” -Alexandra Levit

 

As you look at the workplace of the future, what are a few of the major changes we will see?

Thank You for Your Support, Kind Words, and Impact

The Book of Mistakes

An Amazing Launch

Three months ago, I released my first book: The Book of Mistakes: 9 Secrets to Creating a Successful Future. Before its publication, I described the experience as a rollercoaster ride with the same mix of emotions ranging from fear to excitement.

 

Would the book be well-received?

Would you be inspired like I hoped?

 

I’m pleased to say that the book took off right away, soaring in its first week to the top 25 list of all nonfiction in the United States. Week three saw it hit the Wall Street Journal bestseller list. Over 100 five-star reviews hit Amazon in week one and many others on Goodreads. It has also hit local lists across the country.

Foreign rights requests started immediately with deals reached quickly in languages ranging from Korean to Spanish and even Ukrainian.

Near to my heart is libraries, and the book is in over 200 libraries across the country.

Thank you for your support of the book and its positive message. Only you have the power to determine if your future mimics your past.

 

“Only you have the power to determine if your future mimics your past.” -Skip Prichard #TheBookofMistakes

 

Humbling Endorsements & Support

It was gratifying to have so many early endorsements from amazingly talented authors, friends, and personal heroes. They are on the cover of the book and on the book’s website. But it is even more gratifying to receive notes from individuals around the world sharing the book’s impact. That’s why I wrote the book. For you!

Here are just a few comments to show you why I’m so encouraged (from people I had not met previously):

  • “Your Book of Mistakes was absolutely the most interesting and thought-provoking book I have ever read.”
  • I have asked my assistant to order 100 copies of the book for my team and expect great conversation on the subject once they enjoy your book. Thanks again for writing a book that will appeal to everyone in every walk of life with lessons of a lifetime!”
  • “I could not put your book down. My whole life is now going to change!” 
  • “One of the best motivational books I have come across.”

These notes are completely unexpected and just amaze me. They are humbling to say the least.

I also want to thank my amazing Book Launch team. They took the book’s message to places I never dreamed of.

 

“Readiness is when your desire is stronger than your distraction.” -Skip Prichard #TheBookofMistakes

 

Media Support

And I want to thank the many publications, radio stations, podcasts, blogs, and websites that have featured the book.

Here are a just a few of them that you may enjoy visiting:

 

Book of Mistakes by Skip Prichard

Get The Book of Mistakes: 9 Secrets to Creating A Successful Future

 

Podcasts:

Create Your Successful Future by Avoiding these Mistakes. Podcast.

The One Mistake We All Make that Hinders Success. Lead X.

Zig Ziglar Podcast. Make Your Future Successful.

Bob Burg’s The Go-Giver Podcast.

Jeff Brown’s Read to Lead Podcast. 9 Secrets to Creating a Successful Future.

Rory Vaden’s Action Catalyst Podcast. Mistakes Leaders Make.

Kevin Eikenberry’s Remarkable Leadership Podcast. Nine Mistakes People Make. 

 

YouTube:

Youtuber Evan Carmichael interviews Skip Prichard on the 9 Mistakes.

 

Selected Articles:

The Power You Didn’t Know Fiction Can Have On Your Business. Entrepreneur Magazine. May 2018.

Build a Powerful Culture of Freedom and Responsibility

powerful

Powerful

Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook called the Netflix “freedom and responsibility” deck “the most important document ever to come out of the Valley.”

The document is 124 pages and it outlines the principles behind the unique corporate culture at Netflix. It has had reverberations far outside of Silicon Valley and way beyond Netflix itself. The principles have been debated and adopted by organizations throughout the world. It has been viewed over fifteen million times.

Patty McCord helped write the document. She worked at Netflix for 14 years as the company’s Chief Talent Officer. In her book, POWERFUL: Building a Culture of Freedom and Responsibility, Patty shares what she has learned about building a high-performance culture. I recently asked her to share more about her experience.

 

Challenge the Rules

You challenge many of the existing HR rules with new ways of thinking. What advice do you have for leaders that will help them embrace these changes?

It begins with questioning, literally, everything we do in HR: policies, procedures, guidelines, practices, permissions. What is the purpose of each of these activities? Do they achieve the desired result? If you started from scratch, would you embrace these methods?

 

“People can handle being told the truth, about both the business and their performance. The truth is not only what they need but also what they intensely want.” -Patty McCord

 

Many people think that compensation rules the day, but you have a different philosophy. What’s the “greatest motivation”?

I truly believe the greatest motivation is to be part of an amazingly talented team that gets real work done that matters to our companies and our customers.

 

“Be selfless in debating. That means being genuinely prepared to lose your case and openly admitting when you have.” -Patty McCord

 

Hold Rigorous Debates

5 Steps to Your Best Year Ever

Michael Hyatt Best Year Ever

Your Best Year Ever

Michael Hyatt’s new book, Your Best Year Ever: A 5-Step Plan for Achieving Your Most Important Goals, arrived at just the right time for me. I’m in the middle of my contemplative period, the time at the end of the year when I review how things went and look forward into the next.

What do I want to continue? To stop? To start?

Where am I frustrated and stuck? Where am I effective and seemingly unstoppable?

It’s a process I’ve gone through most of my life.

This year it seemed I need a boost, a grounding, something to spur on my thinking.

That’s when the delivery arrived. I knew immediately what it was from the packaging. Michael is a close friend, and he sent the book ahead of its release as an early gift. Of course, I already pre-ordered the book, so now I will have two copies, which is perfect. It’s a book I will be buying for others to spread its message.

It’s hard to describe the book. Knowing Michael, I expected a goal-setting system, but it’s far more than that. It is filled with research and stories that I found extraordinarily motivational.

The five steps are deceptively simple:

  1. Believe the possibility.
  2. Complete the past.
  3. Design your future.
  4. Find your why.
  5. Make it happen.

 

Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book:

 

“Goals poorly formulated are goals easily forgotten.” -@MichaelHyatt

“When we focus on belief improvement, often our circumstances follow suit.” -@MichaelHyatt

“The first key difference between an unmet goal and personal success is the belief that it can be achieved.” -@MichaelHyatt

“The best way to overcome limiting beliefs is to replace them with liberating truths.” -@MichaelHyatt

“Upgrading your beliefs is the first step toward experiencing your best year ever.” -@MichaelHyatt

“The only people with no hope are those with no regrets.” -@MichaelHyatt

“Gratitude has the potential to amplify everything good in our lives.” -@MichaelHyatt