Human aware, humanity awareness or as coined later human-centered has been part of my journey since mid 90s.
I’ve always had an interest in human existence, when young different cultures and languages, then philosophy, then sociology and ethnography. Some of those I studied and others have been part of my working life.
When in 1994 I started working on the digital mobile device platform as a product lead we sought input to the planning from market research. We did the big expensive research across select countries, even Nokia could not afford a global set. We did the focus groups. None of it was very helpful.
So, in 1995 I kicked off ‘SocialWare’, a small team whose remit it was to understand the human being, what is changing, how it changing, what impact technologies had on the human lives. With the help of the various fields of understanding the human being we started designing digital lives.
The approach we took involved external creative research teams as part of our foresight/insights efforts from France and Australia. With these people and our own in-house sociology and ethnography inputs we built programs to influence the Nokia product, marketing, design and strategy.
One of the approaches included a multidisciplinary team of four travelling to 30+ countries to observe, learn, draw insights and design concepts; our team included a design company, Seymour&Powell working on the design insights and concepts.
The team also visited various players from parallel industries to gain insights to where the mobile device market could go. Clothing (Benetton) and watch-making are two examples.
We worked on full scope scenarios around personalisation, mobile information society and other which also played into our understanding of the shifts occurring in the market. With other teams we analysed shifts in health care, transport, education and more.
These inputs we then worked visually and with a different style of narrative into the relevant processes within Nokia, which I believe at the time was a leader in taking the human into consideration in this way. And I am very proud of that work and the push I put into making it happen.
We were doing human-centered before the popularized term existed.
I have included the same principles all through my work whether as a consultant, author, lecturer, startup founder, corporate innovator and strategist and product/service lead. In 2002 I worked on the future of tourism. I’ve worked on field technician journeys and other similar scenarios and their improvement through mobility in the mid noughties… and plenty more since.
The growth of human aware thinking over time is great. Often it is still called consumer, customer, ‘experience’ ‘journey’ or other similar term to suggest already ‘within sphere’ human beings. However, what I am interested in is the human, society, systems, contexts, variations and how they matter, ways of living loving and more. 🙂
Now there is much more opportunity to work in the space that I love, which is making a difference to how products and services and whole of organisations keep the human centre-stage.
And the same space, but in a different way, is also what Hunome is all about…
(At times I might have a slip between English and American spelling)