future tools now – A look back at the first event in 2020
Restart: Post-COVID between Frankfurt, Singapore and Tokyo
How can we solve the problems of a still uncertain future? How do we prepare ourselves for the unforeseen and how do we deal with ambiguity and uncertainty? We already addressed the topic of “Future Tools” at World Usability Day 2019, and based on the ideas discussed there, we have now created a platform to develop the best tools for creating desirable futures. Under its umbrella, we will frequently promote various event formats in order to foster cross-industry networking and exchange on these issues. The COVID-19 pandemic is a good example of how relevant the handling of uncertainty is today, as it is forcing us all to change our behaviour in our everyday lives, thereby undermining long-established lifestyles and business strategies. The question of how things should continue during or after the crisis is not just of concern to the design industry, and accordingly the meeting was entitled “Restart: Post-Covid”. 90 participants from over 10 nations discussed together what role design can play in mastering the challenges.
Meta skills, design methods and the role of the design industry
Three important findings for the future
1. We need meta-skills that integrate learning into our everyday lives
Nav Qirti (Ideactio) and Tim Heiler (Iconstorm) emphasized in their talk that it will become increasingly important in the future to develop skills for dealing with the uncertain. Long rehearsed strategies and supposed best practices alone are often path dependent and not flexible enough to react to the unforeseen. These meta-skills include curiosity and the ability to look at things purposefully from new perspectives, to judge them critically and to be bold enough to act accordingly together with others based on this judgement. Since results are not always predictable, experimentation and failure must also be seen as part of normality. Designers can support others well here, because these skills are part of their daily work.
2. Design methods make the future perceptible and tangible
With the right tools, we make it possible for people to think outside their familiar boundaries and explore new possibilities. This allows us to communicate possible futures and to develop concrete ideas, artifacts and prototypes that not only illustrate the future, but make it literally tangible. Insights into the #NewNormals project by the Designit Tokyo team on life after the COVID-19 pandemic have shown in a very practical way how this can work. (You can see more about this in the video of the event below, among other things).
3. The design industry has a special role to play in dealing with uncertainty
The future role and responsibility of designers will be to enable others to deal with uncertainty. Our competences allow us to think and work with intangibles in a structured way, and thus to deal with complexity in a purposeful manner. With these skills we can manage dealing with ambiguous realities, imagine desirable futures, and work towards them. Therefore, we will need to translate this skill set into a toolkit that we can make available for others in order to help them develop the skills to deal with uncertainty, too.
Restart: Post-Covid, the video
This video shows the talks of our Restart: Post-Covid event. You can find the full program of the day at eventbrite for further information.
Conclusion and outlook
The first future tools now underlined once more that both the role and responsibility of design increases in importance. The current pandemic shows how from every crisis new behaviors, pain points and needs emerge. And, thus, there are also new possibilities for us to adress these. Our role in this is not only to accept this as a design challenge, but also to empower others to do the same. Ultimately, design is a tool that helps us engage differently with the future, whether as individuals or organizations. Therefore, our goal is to provide many people with the tools they need to become productive themselves in creating a better future.