DEI for Innovation 2: Creating innovative products, with Erin Peace

A diverse team makes companies stronger and more productive. In this series, Kurt Merriweather, The Diversity Movement’s VP of Products and Innovation, talks with DEI leaders about how diversity, equity and inclusion can lead to incredible developments in your organization and beyond. In this episode, Kurt talks with Erin Peace, associate director at Experience Design from Method, about how DEI leads to innovation in product development.

Transcript

Kurt Merriweather: Welcome to Winning with Diversity, a podcast to help you learn the strategies to transform your business through Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Our series on DEI, presents different techniques and approaches to build high-performing teams that operate more effectively and unlock new opportunities for business growth. We’ll also talk about technology and different techniques to build great products as well. 

I’m your host, Kurt Merriweather, VP of product and innovation at the Diversity Movement, and today we’ll be exploring how we help companies transform themselves through technology, data-driven insight, and new approaches to DEI. 

I’m excited to be joined by our guests, Erin Peace, Associate Director of Design from Method. Erin works in experience, design and strategy at Method, and Erin has a background in journalism, graphic design, and service design. Outside of work, Erin loves to read, run, and travel. Welcome to the show Erin. 

Erin Peace: Thanks so much Kurt. Happy to be here. 

Kurt Merriweather: Excellent. I’m going to, I’m going to change things up a little bit and ask you a question about, something somebody wouldn’t know about you from Googling you? 

Erin Peace: All right. Yeah. So, I have a, well, you probably don’t wouldn’t know this from Googling me either. I have a sister, half-sister who lived in Hawaii for much of her life. And so, I used to go and visit her and was out in the water, swimming, snorkeling, one time visiting her and was suddenly attacked by a large man o’ war.

Thought I was going to die. It had like six feet long tentacles that were invisible and wrapped themselves all over my body. And I had to swim back to shore with those all over me. And my niece was on the shore at the time. And she took, she was about three years old, she took one look at me and she just burst out crying because I look so scary.

 So, it was one of the worst, what do you call it? Injuries I’ve ever had, but it was also really funny and a great sort of community experience because literally everyone on the beach came over to me and gave me different tips on whether I should put vinegar on it, whether need to go to the hospital, it was intense. So, I don’t know if that’s going to make it in the podcast, but that’s definitely something you wouldn’t know about me Googling me. 

Kurt Merriweather:  Being attacked by a man o’ war in Hawaii. We would not know that about you Googling you, so that is a really good story. I wasn’t expecting that one. 

So, you obviously you’ve, you’ve had a pretty varied set of things that you’ve done in your background, and so wanted to talk to you a little bit about, you know, how you got to be where you are based on your journey and what led you to, navigating the things that you navigated to get to the point where you’re doing design work now.

Erin Peace: Sure, yeah.  I started out actually studying journalism in undergrad. I remember I was trying to decide what to major in, got the packet and circled everything.

Like pretty much half of the majors I circled. And I was like, well, this isn’t going to work. You can’t study everything. But so, I decided on journalism because it felt like the way that I could sort of learn about every topic and really be a generalist, immerse myself in lots of things through a medium, which I really liked, which was writing. 

So, I did that and I freelanced as a, a writer for a couple years during and after college, but I always felt like there was sort of a stopping point with journalism. You’re doing a lot of good research, uncovering a lot of people’s stories and things that are happening in the world, but I felt that I wanted to do more than understand and amplify problems, right. I wanted to actually be part of solutions or addressing those issues in a way. 

And so, I had always really enjoyed art as well, and I felt that there was some path forward for me in terms of design. So actually, taking what you learn through investigative research and interviews and things like that. And, you know, being allowed to have an opinion and move forward with a solution to actually attack those things.

So, I decided to go back to college and I went to a graphic communication design program, at Central Saint Martins, which was very broad. So, we learned everything from, you know, typical graphic design to design research and physical computing. And it was really more about how can we use design to investigate problems and then also communicate stories or you know, share different ways of addressing them.

And so, from there, my design career, I guess, started after that, which was in service design. So, I was working as sort of a digital designer within a service design company, but I was able through that, it was really able to learn the principles of service design and UX design, and sort of that typical process of research and iteration and problem solving to get to it, to get to a solution.

So, from there I felt like I wanted to do a little bit more focus on craft as much. As I love service design it, a lot of it ended up in decks and maps and there wasn’t too much tangible output. So, I focused a little bit more on product design for the next couple of years, and then here I am sort of in the middle of those two, where I do a lot of decks and strategy and storytelling, but it’s always. In service of a final designed output as well. 

Kurt Merriweather: Got it. So, you mentioned service design, which is interesting and wanted to have you kind of drill into that a little bit more. And so, if you were going to contrast service design and product design, how would you, how would you do that? How would you explain that?

Erin Peace: Sure. Yeah, I mean, I think of product design as, one, as a part of service design, then some people might hate me for saying that, but service design, in my opinion, involves both physical and digital touchpoints. So, imagine someone going to Disney world, the experience of going to Disney world is much more than just maybe the Disney world app.

So, the Disney world app might help guide you through that experience, but the actual design of the other humans in that space, the physical surroundings that are guiding you, things like that are all involved in service design. So, it can get really unwieldy, but at the same time it’s exciting because you can think about the context that a person is in when they’re actually moving through experience with or without their phone.

Kurt Merriweather: That’s a really good way to think about products. I also think about products the same way. A lot of times people will say it’s about the device you have in your hand, but it really is about the experience, the environment, the other elements of, what it’s like, what you’re doing when you’re using your phone, for example.  

And trying to meet the needs of a variety of different kinds of users in their environments and understanding what those look like, and so it strikes me that that seems like an area where you can take your journalistic investigation approach in and kind of marry those two things.

And so, is that one of the things that you think about when you’re trying to evaluate somebody’s environment in their background is how do those things come together in terms of your journalistic background and your design background? 

Erin Peace: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I think both writing journalism, design, it’s all about observation, right? So, it’s all about understanding how people are actually moving through an experience or a space it’s more of what they do than what they say. So, so yes, I would say that observing when people do not just what they say and just understanding context, like you were saying, so really getting at, you know, where is this person going to be when they’re using this app?

Do they even have access to a computer versus do they only have their mobile device, things like that? So, I definitely think context is everything and having sort of a journalistic background in terms of being able to get at someone’s context and lifestyle through qualitative interviews and things like that informs everything I do.

Kurt Merriweather: Got it. In one of the quotes I remember, I think Steve jobs said this is that don’t listen to people to tell you what to build, build something better. And so how do you distinguish between what people say they want versus what they actually want, and your process of testing, and really digging into that part of the design process?

Erin Peace:  I mean, it’s not always at odds, but I think there are things that people don’t tell you. So, I would say, like I was saying just observation, like I’m working with a retailer right now, a pet retailer, and some of our work is simply to go into these stores and watch, like at what moment does the employee come up to the customer?

How long do they converse? Does the customer look like they’re annoyed by that person, or do they look like they’re really engaged in that kind of conversation? You could ask someone later, you know, do you enjoy it when someone greets you at a store and they tell you something, but it might not necessarily be representative of how they are at that moment because they might’ve had a different kind of day or their pet might be anxious for some reason.

So just observing people in that environment. And that’s one of the hard things about COVID frankly, is that we don’t get to do as much of that as possible. So, I do think research can be a little bit stifled because of that. 

Kurt Merriweather: Right. That’s something that, you know, hopefully we’re getting to the point where we can start having some of those observations and to be in different spaces, to think about design and being inspired by the different places that we visit.

And so, when you’re, you know, pre COVID, you know, how would you gather inspiration for different things in terms of your observation? How do you know what to observe? 

Erin Peace: Yeah. I mean, I think that observing the people throughout their day, right. As much as possible, of course, you don’t always have the time and resources to do that.

But, for example, I did a project where I was working on redesigning a parking experience. So, but rather than just, you know, sitting in a parking lot, watching people as they came in and out, we got in people’s cars, told them before, paid them all that. But we actually got in people’s cars and we started with them far away from the parking lot. 

And then we just chatted with them about their day, blah, blah, blah. Went into the parking lot, kept chatting with them about their day, right, not really asking them to comment too much on the parking, but similarly watching how they’re interacting with the different wayfinding and things like that, while getting an understanding of sort of who they are as a person, what motivates them, how easily frustrated they are and things like that. 

So just as much time as you can spend with a person, obviously, but of course that’s all filtered through me, right, me as a biased human. So, I definitely think it’s important to have, and I’m sure we’ll talk about this at some point, but you know, a number of different teammates and a number of different perspectives and a number of different interviews.

So, you don’t just take this one sort of experience and say, oh, I know all about people who are women in their thirties and how they park because I did this one interview, right? 

Kurt Merriweather: Yes. That’s a really important part of building products, creating new business opportunities is to make sure that the filter that we use is as bias, free as possible. And so, when that comes through one individual, and then you speak on behalf of a group of people who are diverse that’s tough to do.  And so, I definitely want to come back and talk about that in a lot of detail. Cause that’s, I think the essence of how we can do a better job of creating growth opportunities for companies and organizations is to think about that filtering process, cause that is so critical in terms of taking those observations and making sure that we’re making the right decisions based on the input that we’re getting. 

 I had an opportunity to read some of the work that you’ve written. Digging into your writing background there for a minute, and there’s this concept of speculative design that you wrote about. And so, can you describe what that is? Never heard of that until I saw that, so, 

Erin Peace: It’s sort of in academia, I think at the moment. So, it’s unfortunate that not many people have heard of it, but it is essentially a method for exploring preferable futures. So, there’s this, graphic that I’ll try to describe that the originators of it, Fiona and Anthony, Fiona Raby and Anthony Dunne created, which is essentially, if you can imagine a cone, like going out from me and widening as it gets further into space. And you have these cones of possibility, so you have, what is it possible, probable, plausible, sort of narrowing in.

And then somewhere in there between probable and plausible is preferable. And so, what speculative design tries to do is create probes that allow us humans to have conversations and introspect on what we want the future to be like. So, there’s examples of this in popular culture, like black mirror, if anyone’s ever seen that show or, you know, classic 1984, kind of dystopian design fiction, novel, things like that. So, there’s ways that those are more like accessible mediums, but then there’s also sort of object based speculative design, which is a lot of what is created today in the design world. And it’s just really supposed to start that conversation around.

Can you imagine what it would be like if? And then if, do we want this future? So, it’s really interesting, and I, I think there are ways that it could be made more accessible, but at the moment a lot of it lives in museums, but it’s great sort of conversation pieces around how we could design better futures.

Kurt Merriweather: And do you use that way of thinking in your own design approach when you’re thinking about what’s possible?

Erin Peace:  I would say it helps me push the limits, but at the moment it’s not very, it’s, there’s a tension, frankly, between speculative design and capitalism or, you know, the idea of needing to have really tangible- tangible, measurable outcomes. Like the purpose of speculative design is not to solve a problem, it’s to explore a possibility.

 And so, I think there is space for it in a very, very white space area of design., but a lot of times what I do is past that to the point where I do have a brief. And so, there is, you know, there is supposed to be an outcome beyond a design probe. 

Kurt Merriweather: Right. And so being able to imagine the future so that you can say here’s, what’s possible. I remember watching a documentary where Nikola Tesla was on a beach somewhere thinking about waves, and then that was the inspiration for thinking about alternating current., and so there are a few examples where people go through literally kind of mental imaging of what’s possible and then can see this future and then they are able to create it.

I’m not one of those people, but there are people who do that well. And so, I think it’s part of the beginning of the design process using that as a way to kind of expand thinking, but then saying to your point, how does this turn into a tangible, measurable outcome? And then how do you combine that with something that’s more user centered?

So, there was one of the things I remember reading in your piece was the tension between user centered design and why their challenges with user centered design, and so I want to talk about the user centered piece, because that is also an area where I think there’s an opportunity for folks to think about diversity, equity and inclusion in terms of the user centered design approach. So, could you talk about that and if there’s controversy with user centered design, what some of the controversy is there? 

Erin Peace: Sure. I mean, yeah, there’s so many different terms that right. It’s user centered design, there’s customer centered design, people, planet centered, human.

So, people, lots of different ways to talk about it. And I’m definitely not an expert, but I would say one thing that comes to mind when you think about user centered design, is that there’s essentially this assumption that anything that is smoother or easier is better, right? So, this is idea of reducing friction, frictionless experiences, seamless experiences.

But I think what happens there is that we easily confuse business goals with human goals or user goals, right? So, the one click checkout, like no one wants that. It’s easier, but it’s, it’s there because it makes the company more money, right. So, there’s this kind of tension, I think, between like convenience and then some trade-offs of convenience, whether that’s privacy, whether that’s like spending more money than you intended to things like that.

So that’s, I think the tension, where something might be if you’re just really focused on this particular product, yes, it might be better for the user. It’s a little less frustrating. It’s a little bit easier, but if you zoom out and think about that user’s life, are you helping them achieve their goals? It’s not always that black and white. 

Kurt Merriweather: I think that’s well said, especially as we think about building teams, for example. So, because friction is thought of as being negative, then there’s a tendency to work with people who share the same ideas, same backgrounds, because quite frankly, it is easier to talk to somebody who shares lots of characteristics.

And so, that’s where I think from a team building point of view, there’s an opportunity to shift the narrative, so it’s not just about the ease of communication or the frictionless discussion, but are we pushing on one another’s ideas to a point where the friction becomes positive and the outcome becomes better because you’ve, you are kind of pushing on ideas.

And so just curious about your experiences in having debates with different members of teams that you’ve worked in where there’s friction and then kind of seeking the friction as opposed to backing away. 

Erin Peace: Totally. yeah, I think it can apply to both designing products and working in teams, like you’re saying. There’s this concept of good burdens, which I just love, and it’s just the idea essentially effortful yet rewarding work, right? Whether that’s doing the dishes or going for a run or something that causes stress in one sense, but not in a bad way, it’s actually helping you grow.  And I think when it comes to, when it comes to team building, yeah. I mean, at the beginning of any projects I do, you know, we set.

We have a way of working. We set some principles, assuming good intent, you know, being willing to challenge ideas, things like that. But then when it comes to the actual project, obviously actions speak louder than words. So, I think it’s really about building in the time to have those conversations because they take time and I have been on some projects where that frustration, I really didn’t want to be there in the moment.

Right, the friction felt difficult. It felt inefficient. It felt like we weren’t getting anywhere. But I realized that that pressure was there because of the time constraint. If I had had a little bit more time, I would have felt more comfortable diving into those discussions, which were a little bit more philosophical.

 The one I’m referring to is actually a project when I was working on with a gaming company, and so we were discussing a lot about sort of what it means to fail in gaming. Whether or not that, how it’s sort of a positive experience even though it’s a negative experience. We all have different ideas on this topic and it, and it will, would inform our eventual strategy in this design, but it felt like these discussions around this topic were kind of heated.

So yeah, so building in time for that, and then I would say the other thing is just being curious is something that I’m trying to be to be better at, especially as we grow more global, both just in general, but also at my company, working with lots of teams all over the world. So, trying to understand beyond just, you know, what is, someone’s maybe critical point of view on this project, but also just like.

What are they interested in, in their day-to-day life? What holidays do they celebrate? What other languages do they speak? Questions like that, that facilitate belonging so that when it comes time to have conversations about the work, people feel comfortable offering critical feedback. So, it’s definitely a work in progress and it feels like, you know, something that we’re just going to, I’m just going to have to continue to work on forever. But having that as a goal of like facilitating belonging, I think allows people to, to feel like they can speak up. 

Kurt Merriweather: Right. And so that goes back to some research that Google has done on high-performing teams, where psychological safety as a piece of being able to participate in a team like that, and empathy is an important piece of that.

So, when creating inclusive practices, being able to create a sense of belonging, so that you understand someone else’s perspective, and you’ve taken the time to get to know them. One of the, partners that we have, John Samuel, who leads abler or which is a joint venture between walk west and LCI.

One of the things he talks about quite a bit is proximity builds, breeds empathy. And so being able to be close and spend time with someone before you enter into a project is important because then, while the friction probably will still feel uncomfortable, it’s not that I’m attacking you as a person, I’m challenging your ideas.

And so, there’s, it’s takes a while in terms of team building to create that kind of rapport, where you’re able to challenge someone’s ideas without them feeling like you’re attacking them as a person. And I I’ve worked with lots of creatives over the years and sometimes being able to do that is a challenge, both on the part of the person giving the feedback, the creative who puts all their heart and soul into something.

And then you say something about, oh, I don’t think that’s quite right, or it’s off the mark, or why did you do it like this? Those kinds of pieces of feedback kind of strike at the heart of the creative. Not just the design that they’re creating. So that’s, that’s an important part of building high performing teams in particular.

And so, I love the example that you gave around working with a global team and being able to understand what holidays do you celebrate? Tell me, teach me how to say something in your language. And those principles apply to all kinds of difference, so whether it’s based on race or sexual identity, sexual orientation, or gender identity, being able to spend some time to understand where someone’s coming from is so important in building a stronger workplace. So, excited that you’re starting that journey, and, it’s definitely, you know, effortful work. As you said before, 

Erin Peace: Totally. I think it can be a tricky balance, right, of trying to be curious about others without feeling like you’re tokenizing, or you’re, you know, making someone feel like they’re different or anything like that.

So, it’s definitely a balance, but I think there’s some things you can just be explicit about. Like, like you were saying about not being precious about your ideas, we’re here to attack the work, not you, et cetera.  And calling it out as sort of like a company-wide initiative.

Like what, one thing that we’re, we’re thinking about starting is to what I was saying earlier, actually using some of our professional development credits for language learning for the places that we have offices, right? So that it’s a very clear sort of politically correct way to connect with others across continental divides, without feeling like you necessarily have to tiptoe into those waters worrying if you’re sort of ostracizing someone by being curious about their particular identity. 

Kurt Merriweather: And that it does take a level of, you know, what we would call cultural competence to be able to do that well. And so that takes practicing, making mistakes, and being okay with that, and going back to what you were saying at the very beginning around assuming positive intent. And so, as long as you know, we’re assuming positive intent, then hopefully the other party will forgive our misstep and will, wouldn’t see that as a way to appreciate the fact that you’re trying to make an effort to get to know who they are.

Erin Peace: Totally. But also acknowledging that positive intent doesn’t absolve you, right. Just because you were just mean that well, I mean, it landed well. 

Kurt Merriweather: That is exactly right. So, there’s, while not malicious, you still want to be competent, and so that takes practice and saying, you know, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to say that, sorry, that that went that way. Here’s what I was trying to say, or how should I say this differently, and using that as a teaching opportunity, as you’re trying to get to know someone you’re working with in your team. So, this is something that I’m passionate about in terms of helping organizations create the right kinds of working methods so that they can be better and ultimately deliver better outcomes as a result of that.

So, I wanted to tackle this last topic around a term that gets thrown around quite a bit, but I’m sure you’ve heard this, is design thinking. And design thinking, a lot of times, you know, I envisioned someone, in a workshop with a bunch of pieces of paper and they’re just iterating, iterating, iterating, and they come up with an idea and they execute it. But I’m sure there’s much more to it than that. 

And so wanted to get your perspective on design thinking, why you think it’s, kind of, it’s become such a buzzword and, the right ways to think about it from your perspective. And then how, how can we can extend that concept beyond product design?

Erin Peace: Yeah, it’s a very loaded term. I don’t typically use it even though a lot of people would say what I do is design thinking work.  First of all, it’s redundant. Design involves thinking, design is thinking, but it’s basically a way to package and sell a process, right. And the people who have done it have been very successful at that, and it is the process that designers have used for a long time. 

And so, there’s kind of two main critiques of it. The first is that, well, it’s sort of threatening to typical graphic designers or people who’ve been schooled in design because they’re saying, you know, there’s no one size fits all. This is not just easy. You make it look easier than it is. So that’s sort of one, one critique is that it takes, you know, a lot of experience and time to get to really understand and develop the process. And then the second critique is that it can protect white supremacy. I mean, it is protecting the status quo a lot of times, because it is often done by white people or people who have benefited from a system that is designed for white people.

And so, it’s a way of designing for, rather than designing with, even though there are these principles of empathy and research, it’s so quick and it’s so contained that it is never really enough that someone could truly understand what the problems are and how complex they are. And then also the fact that they could think that they could solve them in a workshop with sticky notes versus through, you know, a combination of advocacy, government action, tax dollars, things like that.

So that’s sort of the multiple critiques of it. But the actual design process, as no matter how you want to define it, but the idea of, you know, expanding and contracting observing a lot, taking a lot of inputs in trying to synthesize coming back open again, to kind of come up with tons of different ways to address it with the people who are going to use the solution or the product or whatever it is and then continually iterating. That’s useful. That will always be useful, and I think it applies to so many different disciplines and industries and things like that. So, I understand why design thinking has become such a popular workshop, buzzword approach, because it is a good approach to continually, you know, to pretend like you’re completely ignorant, start wide, and then keep zooming in and out until you reach some sort of conclusion that feels, that feels thorough.  

Kurt Merriweather: Okay. I’m glad you, 

Erin Peace: I don’t know, what you, what do you think? What have you heard about design thinking? 

Kurt Merriweather: It is, it is similar. I think understanding your customer, understanding their environment, and then being able to rapidly iterate using techniques that are cheap at first, because a lot of times when you’re building a product, the expense comes in when you decided now I’m going to develop something, and you don’t understand fully what the problem is and how people were going to interact with the solution.

So being able to iterate, it’s something that represents what the end product would be. So, you get used that as a way to get customer feedback so that you can then say, well, what about this? What about this? What about this? And so, by the time you get to a point where you’re ready to start development, now you’ve got built in customer feedback, hopefully.

That’s it’s going to help you create the right solution. So, the point you were making. About, design thinking in who’s executing design thinking, being predominantly white, I think is part of the challenge or has a narrow set of experiences even, sometimes because of whose schooled in how to do that work. And so, the challenge that I think we have is how do you invite more different kinds of people into that process? So, then your output is going to be better. 

So, I was talking to somebody about a situation that was similar to this. There was a business that had built a technology platform for dance studios. But their research was based on their family, which was very homogeneous. There was a whole, so there were other people who wanted to use the dance platform for dance studios, but they were from a different ethnic group. And the way they socialized in that ethnic group was very different than what the product was tested on. So then when other people tried to use it, they were like, yeah, we’re not using it because it doesn’t work for me, and that company missed out on an opportunity to expand their marketplace because of the narrow way that they did the initial research. 

And so how can teams guard against those blind spots thinking that they’ve covered the universe of problems when they really haven’t? So, what would you, if you had a magic wand to wave around that process, how should teams think about that differently? 

Erin Peace: That is the question. I think there’s, the first step would be relinquishing some control. I think a lot of designers have, an inclination to be perfectionist in some sense, myself included, and part of what drew them to design is the aesthetics or, you know, the ability to have that control over an experience or a product. So, I think there has to be some acceptance that something that is better for a certain group of people or for a larger group of people might not be appealing to them or to you, or it might not be, you know, typically what we see as good Eurocentric graphic design and something like that.

So, and then also understanding that maybe, maybe it’s more about focusing on the process, like defining success of the design project as the number of people in the community who were involved versus, you know, how polished the final output was. So, I just, I definitely think there’s a tension there’s, you know, with participatory design, good participatory design, it’s a bit messier than most designers would like it to be, and they don’t necessarily get to put their stamp on it. So, I’d say, yeah, relinquishing a little bit of control and a little bit of ego and allowing the process to be the product. 

Kurt Merriweather:  Allowing the process to be the product. That’s a good way to state that cause ultimately, how do you iterate, make that process better and better? And thinking about not just the outcome, but the process, and making sure that that’s inclusive and, and hopefully if it is, then the product also will mirror the process, and so I think that’s a good way to say that, 

Erin Peace: And again, back to time, right? I think one of the main reasons that design thinking has become so negatively considered is because it, it tries to contract a really deep process and perhaps long process into a couple, couple short weeks in a boardroom. So yeah, allowing the time for things to go wrong 

Kurt Merriweather: Things never go wrong. Nothing unforeseen ever happened. And then that’s part of the challenge is timeboxing is part of the process, which is helpful cause then the extraneous thoughts hopefully go away and you’re focusing on those things that are really important by timeboxing them. It does truncate the process, which is a problem.

And so, trying to create the right balance between those things or outcomes is the challenge. So hopefully there’s continuity among the group.  So that you’ve got the same group of people working together. Hopefully, you know, they work together better. But there is a definitely, there is nothing that’s not without trade-offs. So, that is the world that we live in, unfortunately, is there tradeoffs around time versus output. And, it’s one of those challenges I’m always thinking of ways to solve. But I haven’t figured it out. Maybe you have? 

So, one last question for you. Thinking about the field of design specifically, and some of the challenges that we’re facing, societally.  What do you see as the future of design being more integrated into other aspects of problem solving, beyond what we typically think of as a product to service design?

Erin Peace: I think that, and I think I’ve mentioned this on our, the panel that I did with you a couple of months ago, but I see design is a really powerful tool for storytelling. So, the way to bring attention to an idea, similar to, you know, what originally attracted me to journalism in terms of like learning lots of different things and bringing awareness to different things, design and is a way of communicating what’s important, and including speculative design. So, if you think about, Black mirror is a good example of showing us the extremes of what today’s technology could be if we continued on that path. I think whether it’s film or, you know, writing or a designed object, or even, you know, motion graphics, any form of design can help us tell stories about possible futures so that we can sort of reflect more sanely on our present.

 I don’t think that that’s the way that design is necessarily going. I think it’s going more toward that sort of, how can we make consumer experiences more frictionless, more seamless things like that, like we were talking about earlier, but I do think that designers are going to quickly get fed up with that because that’s not very creative. You know, and you’re executing on someone else’s ideas for what is a good idea. 

So, there’s definitely a movement of people focus more on critical design and what the future could be. so, I’m hoping to be more in that camp to kind of expose the trade-offs of, of where we’re like, what we’re currently doing and where that could lead us.

Kurt Merriweather: All right. Well with that, I’ll leave it there. So, you know, that’ll be something that we grapple with is, friction versus effortful positive experiences. 

Erin Peace: So yeah, not a very happy note to end on, sorry Kurt. We got a lot of work to do. 

Kurt Merriweather: We’ve got a lot of work to do, but I’m hopeful, and hopefully you are too, in terms of the things that we’re seeing, that there are some that want to take on these challenges, and to make sure that we’re, we’re all made better as a result of it. So, Erin, thank you so much for spending some time with me today on the podcast. 

Erin Peace:  Thank you so much. It was lovely.

Full Episode Transcript

Winning with Diversity is brought to you by The Diversity Movement, hosted by VP of Products and Innovation Kurt Merriweather, and is a production of Earfluence.

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