Toys, tools and serious people

One question

How do we create change through innovative design when the tools that are used look like toys to the people who control budgets and final decisions?

Why ask?

I was asked this question earlier this week.

Playful tools that explore and validate new product and service ideas still have the look and form of toys to many people who control companies and organisations.

Brought up with management tools that look serious, like computers, spreadsheets, typed reports; these people are not entirely convinced that Lego, Post It Notes and storytelling about personas on journeys are more than children’s toys dumped into the boardroom.

It’s quite easy for people to see this things and use them but only as a form of play. Thus Innovation Labs are run, Agile projects iterate prototypes but nothing is funded or deployed.

The innovation process becomes a Play.

Management can be very good at taking in new methods, novel ideas and innovation in order to stifle it. This situation is probably exacerbated when they are told that play and toys are literally the solutions they need.

No answer (yet)

I have no idea what to do about this. The problem is people who are, quite reasonably, suspicious of playful tools and techniques but, unreasonably, unwilling to change when those tools and techniques are validated.

I suspect that Liminal Thinking may be one approach.

This is also about Behavioural Design. Unusually, it’s about Nudge applied to people with privilege, confidence and power (rather than on citizens with none of those things).

I’d be happy to hear of any approaches to change in this area.

How are you changing senior managers who trust only established business ratios and proven techniques like cost reduction?




Sensory Design Consultant, usability researcher and workshop facilitator. Twitter @acuity_design & @visceralUX

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Alastair Somerville

Alastair Somerville

Sensory Design Consultant, usability researcher and workshop facilitator. Twitter @acuity_design & @visceralUX

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