The Lofty Aspirations of Human-Centred Design

JOURNAL || NOVEMBER 2015 The Lofty Aspirations of Human-Centred Design Ayush Chauhan Keywords: Human-Centred Design, HCD, Strategy Conference Tour, Change, Challenges of Our Time Application for IIT Institute of Design’s Strategy Conference Tour posed three questions ostensibly around the most pressing challenges of our times and how innovators, strategists, designers, and entrepreneurs could deal with those (another matter that practitioners looking for these answers probably span a much wider spectrum of disciplines). It is a Design Strategy Tour hosted by a School of Design and so perhaps my answers would read like I played to the gallery – but hand on heart, I believe that there needs to be a way for people to connect with the realities of the world they are trying to change. Far too often, our decisions are based on assumptions of how our actions will play out in the real world and that in part comes from the comfort of distancing ourselves from what is otherwise inherently complex and messy. I speak here of human relationships and emotions especially of the large mass of faceless and nameless “users”, “beneficiaries” or “stakeholders”. It is indeed too lofty to pitch human centred design as a panacea for this – but what can’t be faulted is that once embraced as a way of thinking and working, it becomes the voice that eggs you on to engage with these complexities. And perhaps in that light, the answers below hold their ground: Q. What are the most imminent challenges of our time? A: The gap that exists between intent and action – whether it concerns human development goals through...

Mapping the Magic

JOURNAL || AUGUST 2015 Mapping the Magic Kevin Shane Keywords: Design Thinking, reimagining, career, values, sustainable counterpoints, Quicksand’s process Living overseas and working for a “foreign” firm brings with it a slew of pretty universally heard questions. “How is it over there?” “Why do you do it?” “What do you do?”, are all bandied about in some manner. People’s curiosities seemingly boil over when trying to understand why someone is doing something that is different, or even contrary, to what is normal, acceptable, and standard. For someone who grew up in a very small town in rural America, living and working in India is akin to going to the moon. Illustration image sources: Az-Osztrák-Magyar Monarchia (retrieved from the flickr commons on 27 Aug 2015) and two NASA photographs (retrieved from NASA’s free image archives on 27 Aug 2015). Shiraz Iqbal. The how and the why are pretty personal, and completely subjective; one’s own individual perception of reality governs what is “good”, “bad”, “ugly”, and otherwise; one person’s normal is another’s absurd, and vice versa. Any time I am asked for advice on what to do, see, eat, etc. in any country I’ve visited, particularly India, I try to include the disclaimer that these are things I enjoy, or not, and to temper expectations accordingly. It is in the what, though, that there is a fairly concrete truth. It is in its explanation where issues tend to abound. I came to Quicksand specifically to work on the sanitation initiative Project Sammaan. The project is a design-led, holistic reimagining of community sanitation facilities for India’s urban slums, attempting to infuse new,...

Reading Traffic

Journal || July 2015 Reading Traffic: Transitioning Jobs, Lives, and Mindsets Rishabh Sachdeva Keywords: Quicksand, great organizations, future, innovation, transition It’s been just over seven weeks since I joined Quicksand. A rather brief moment in the larger scheme of things perhaps, but for me an important import of change that I should make a note of for some distant future. Used to ‘Big’ ‘Corporate’ organizations, Quicksand is a totally different world for me in terms of the sheer scale of things. Maybe trying to understand Quicksand as ‘Small’ is not the wisest thing to do either. It is a lot more than that, even in these early days. I could ramble on but there are some thoughts I’d like to ramble in specific about. Here goes… Photographs courtesy Rishabh Sachdeva Taking a Vocation One of the first things I realized after I joined was that this was not going to be a story about goal sheets, strategic plans and compensations. It’s something I had to live, day in and day out. If you can’t bring your true unadulterated self into the studio and onto the field, you are not going to be able to contribute beyond a point. Unlike larger, more corporate set ups, where there can be a number of firewalls between you and the world around you, here it is all about being tuned in. As design thinkers, entrepreneurs, disruptors and artists; the value you add is by being first true to your point of view and then throwing it in a mix which can then grow. What makes for a good design thinker? My early answer...

Learning Through Being on a Jury

Journal || May 2015 Learning Through Being on a Jury Babitha George Keywords: Jury, Learning, Team Building, Core77, Design I was recently invited to be a part of John Thackara’s jury team in the Design for Social Impact category at the Core77 Design Awards 2015. While I can’t reveal anything at all about the winners (results will be released on June 3rd), I wanted to share some reflections on being part of the jury team. I usually approach juries and judging with much trepidation, since I really disliked them during my time as a student. However, this one forced me to rethink what going through an experience, with respect, preparedness, and openness can teach you – even when you are on a jury! My team members were the always-awesome John Thackara, along with Gill Wildman and Mathilda Tham, both of whom I did not know before we met via Skype. John had given us clear and concise instructions on what we needed to do prior to our jury ‘session’ and it really helped that we all came prepared. Much ado is made of creative chaos, but experiences and hard knocks have taught me the immense value of coming to a team session well-prepared. Much ado is made of creative chaos, but experiences and hard knocks have taught me the immense value of coming to a team session well-prepared. The value that can be derived is just immensely worth more than the alternative. What we had at the end of it all was an extremely productive session that we finished before time (despite Skype issues and the four of us...

The Hygienic Arrangements of a Bird’s Nest

FIELD NOTES || APRIL 2015 The Hygienic Arrangements of a Bird’s Nest Akhil Oswal & Shiraz Iqbal For a different point of view on sanitation, we thought we’d share what Gerald Durrell has to say about the sanitation habits of swallows! Please bear with the static version of this page while we work on getting the interactivity smoothened out....