Human design vital to innovation, says Owen Rogers

Owen Rogers' keynote speech at ad:tech criticises businesses for not concentrating enough on customer experience and advocates design thinking

Owen Rogers speaking at today's ad:tech event at the Hilton, Sydney.
Owen Rogers speaking at today's ad:tech event at the Hilton, Sydney.

Focusing on the human element of design is crucial if organisations want to drive innovation and growth, the senior partner of one of the world’s leading design houses, claims.

Speaking at the ad:tech event in Sydney, Owen Rogers discussed the importance of factoring in the human element of design, which he feels is too often overlooked by businesses.

“C-level people and their senior vice-presidents don’t go out and look at their customers: They sit there and make huge business decisions without actually thinking about who it’s going to touch,” Rogers claimed. “That’s what differentiation in the marketplace truly is: If consumers actually give a shit about what it is you’re going to give them, and why it’s better than somebody else’s.”

Rogers emphasised the need of building to think, instead of thinking to build, and the creation and impact of “ideas with long tales”.

“There are three elements to any problem – technical, feasible [business] and the human piece. Everybody typically forgets the human piece, or they devalue it, thinking the technical or business piece has to be overcome first and foremost.”

Rogers cited a number of projects where IDEO has brought this human element into a number of projects that required significant change in experience. An example is its work with the Mayo Clinic in North America, when the consultancy helped improve patient experience in the ER. To do this, it sent a researcher into the field, acting out a typical patient's movements with a camera strapped to their head, showing what Rogers described as “a pretty grim experience.”

IDEO also worked with the Singaporean government and its Ministry of Manpower to improve processes for people becoming citizens, which Rogers claimed had been arduous previously. Key to improving experience was redesigning the department building to make the process more efficient and family friendly, as well as overhauling follow-up communication to be more direct and engaging.

“The only thing that Singapore has is people, they have no natural resources… so it was trying to figure out how they were going to leverage that so they were attractive to people,” said Rogers.

Each of these changes has a lasting impact, or what Rogers labelled “ideas with long tales”. He cited the work of Louis Pasteur, known for his work in pasteurisation, off the back of which he created the Pasteur Institute, through which many eminent scientists, medical breakthroughs and Nobel prizes have been won.

Rogers also told the story of Caine’s Arcade, in which a young underprivileged boy created his own game arcade out of discarded cardboard boxes at his father’s auto-shop. After a video about Caine went viral, created by his first customer, the play arcade received several thousand visitors, and a fundraiser was started to help his parents afford to send him to college.

This fuelled the creation of the Imagination Foundation to encourage kids to build and create in order to ensure the future. Today, the program has nearly 86,000 participants in 46 countries.

In order to come up with the best and most lasting ideas, Rogers advocated design thinking, which he described as an “incredibly intuitive” process that can drive innovation. Creative confidence is also important, and is something organisations need more of given so many adults have been conditioned to not think creatively, he claimed.

One key element of design thinking is brainstorming, where the rules should always be to defer judgement, build on the ideas of others, encourage wild ideas, and stay focused on the topic.

It’s also important to be visual. “It’s not good enough to just shout your ideas out,” Rogers said. When brainstorming ideas, Rogers recommended going for quantity, not quality.

“There is such reluctance to put ideas out there for fear of being judged, because we are told they’re not creative,” he added. “Go for quantity, and I promise you’ll get the good ideas in the end.”

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO Australia conversation on LinkedIn: CMO Australia, or join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia

Signup to CMO’s new email newsletter to receive your weekly dose of targeted content for the modern marketing chief.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Blog Posts

Cannes 2018: The Big Not Easy

This year’s Cannes Lions program is packed full of data, robots, algorithms, voice technology, blockchain, virtual reality, artificial intelligence and machine creativity. But I’m just as interested in more subtle trends and insights.

Richard Brett

CEO, opr

CMOs are talking the CX talk, but not yet walking the walk

Customer experience is eclipsing product as a competitive differentiator. CMOs are recognising this shift and talking the talk. But are they also walking the walk?

Will our manners go the same way as texting when robotic servants take over?

Much of the talk in the industry is focused on the limited amount of time that screens have left in our lives.

Katja Forbes

Founder and chief, sfyte

When you use the web daily you really need to think about the safety online. You post all kids of information in the net, your personal i...

Birdie Wyatt

ADMA launches education program to tackle viewability, ad fraud and brand safety

Read more

You're suggesting that Taylor Swift is a non-brand because we don't know who she votes for, and then you suggest developing brand stories...

Brian 't Hart

Why Gartner thinks brands are too uptight about strategy

Read more

Indeed this is the great article but i will love to recommend you to read the case study of Walamrt for get the more and more customers. ...

Eva Buttler

5 steps to customer intelligence success

Read more

here is the good news now you can find the all adobe products at walmart .. read this news here at https://creditcardsfair.com/

Yasir Abbas

Adobe: Tech architecture, talent stopping companies making the experience shift

Read more

Google is more like a utility. Does a road have a brand? No. Do we use it daily? Of course! And the idea of Taylor Swift as an unbrand be...

Davy Adams

Why Gartner thinks brands are too uptight about strategy

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in