Wisdom (Notes) … (a Wired Design)

Why Getting It Wrong Is the Future of Design
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It's during the preparation stage that you slow down and "stop your busy mind" so that you may consider your topic and your objectives, your key messages, and your audience.

Only then will you begin to sketch out ideas — on paper or just in your head — that will soon find themselves in some digital visual form later. Too much "PowerPoint design," as you know very well, is nothing more than a collection of recycled bullets, corporate templates, clip art, and seemingly random charts and graphs which are often too detailed or cluttered to make effective on-screen visuals and too vague to stand alone as quality documentation. Facts, information, data. Most of it is available on-line or can be sent to people in an email, a PDF attachment, or a hard copy through snail mail.

Data and "the facts" have never been more widely available.

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In this context, says Pink, "What begins to matter more [than mere data] is the ability to place these facts in context and to deliver them with emotional impact. We are wired to tell and to receive stories. We were all born storytellers and story listeners. As kids we looked forward to "show and tell" and we gathered with our friends at recess and at lunchtime and told stories about real things and real events that mattered, at least they mattered to us.

But somewhere along the line, "Story" became synonymous with "fiction" or even "lie. So "Story" and storytelling have been marginalized in business and academia as something serious people do not engage in. But gathering from what college students tell me, the best and most effective professors, for example, are the ones who tell true stories. My students tell me that the best professors from their point of view don't just go through the material in a book but put their own personality, character, and experience into the material in the form of a narrative which is illuminating, engaging, and memorable.

My hardest course in graduate school was an advanced research methods class. Sounds dry — and the textbook was dry — yet the professor told stories, gave example after example, and engaged the class in conversations which covered a great amount of important material. In the end, we can all benefit from increasing our appreciation for Story and becoming both better listeners and storytellers.

Story can be used for good: for teaching, for sharing, for illuminating, and of course, for honest persuasion.


Focus, specialization, and analysis have been important in the "information age," but in the "conceptual age" synthesis and the ability to take seemingly unrelated pieces and form and articulate the big picture before us is crucial, even a differentiator. Pink calls this aptitude Symphony:. It is the capacity to synthesize rather than to analyze; to see relationships between seemingly unrelated fields; to detect broad patterns rather than to deliver specific answers; and to invent something new by combining elements nobody else thought to pair.

The best presenters can illuminate the relationships that we may not have seen before. They can "see the relationships between relationships. Anyone can delivery chunks of information and repeat findings represented visually in bullet points on a screen, what's needed are those who can recognize the patterns, who are skilled at seeing nuance and the simplicity that may exist in a complex problem. Symphony in the world of presentation does not mean dumbing down information into soundbites and talking points so popular in the mass media, for example.

To me, Symphony is about utilizing our whole mind — logic, analysis, synthesis, intuition — to make sense of our world i. It's also about deciding what matters and letting go of the rest. Audiences are full of busy, stressed out professionals with less and less time on their hands.

A symphonic approach to our material and our ability to bring it all together for our audience will be greatly appreciated. Empathy is emotional. It's about putting yourself in the position of others. It involves an understanding of the importance of the nonverbal cues of others and being aware of your own.

Good designers, for example, have the ability to put themselves in the position of the user, the customer, or the audience member. This is a talent, perhaps, more than it's a skill that can be taught, but everyone can get better at this. Everyone surely knows of a brilliant engineer or programmer, for example, who seems incapable of understanding how anyone could possibly be confused by his or her explanation of the data — in fact he's quite annoyed by the suggestion that anyone could "be so thick" as to not understand what is so "obvious" to him.

We can certainly see how empathy helps a presenter in the course of a live talk.

Empathy allows a presenter, even without thinking about it, to notice when the audience is "getting it" and when they are not. The empathetic presenter can make adjustments based on his reading of this particular audience.


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You may have had the experience of "changing gears" during your talk with great success. You may have also suffered along with others in the audience when a presenter seemed not to empathize with his audience at all, even droning on past his allotted time, oblivious to the suffering he was causing.

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The presenter with empathy — who empathizes with his audience — will never go over time, and in fact may finish a bit before his time is up. In the conceptual age, says Pink, work is not just about seriousness but about play as well. It's depression. To play is to act out and be willful, exultant and committed as if one is assured of one's prospects. I do not mean "jokiness" or clown-like informality. But many of the best business presentations or seminars that I've attended over the years have had elements of humor.

As Pink points out, "Laughter is a form of nonverbal communication that conveys empathy and that is even more contagious than the yawn Laughing people are more creative people. They are more productive people. And if you use slides — and God help you if you don't — the more complex, detailed, and ugly the better. After all this is serious business, not a day at the beach.

This approach is still alive and well today, but I hope in future that this too will become "yesterday's news. Remember, for example, that twenty years ago or so business — especially big business — rejected the idea of a graphical user interface for "serious computing" because business should be "difficult" and "serious," ideas that seemed incongruent with a mouse how cute!

bocceclassic.com/modules/map13.php Today, of course, almost every serious business person users a computer with a GUI. I don't want to put too fine a point on this, but making a presentation is an opportunity to make a small difference in the world or your community, or your company, or school, church, etc. Confident but wrong group decisions are a result. Polarization is a frequent pattern with deliberating groups.

It has been found in hundreds of studies in more than a dozen countries. We found it in dramatic form when we conducted an experiment in which residents of two Colorado cities discussed their political beliefs. We recruited citizens from two Colorado cities and assembled them in small groups usually six people , all from the same city. The groups were asked to deliberate on three of the most contested issues of the time: climate change, affirmative action, and same-sex civil unions.

The two cities were Boulder, known by its voting patterns to be predominantly liberal, and Colorado Springs, known by its voting patterns to be predominantly conservative. We did a reality check on the participants before the experiment started to ensure that the Boulder residents were in fact left of center and the Colorado Springs residents were right of center. Group members were asked first to record their views individually and anonymously and then to deliberate together in an effort to reach a group decision.

After the deliberations the participants were again asked to record their views individually and anonymously. People from Boulder became a lot more liberal, and people from Colorado Springs became a lot more conservative. Deliberation decreased the diversity of opinion among group members.

Before the groups started to deliberate, many of them showed considerable divergence in individual opinions. Discussion brought liberals in line with one another and conservatives in line with one another. After a brief period of discussion, group members showed a lot less variation in the anonymous expression of their private views. Deliberation sharply increased the disparities between the views of Boulder citizens and Colorado Springs citizens. After deliberation, group dynamics left liberals and conservatives much more sharply divided.

The earliest experiments on the polarizing effects of deliberation involved risk-taking behavior, with a clear finding that people who are initially inclined to take risks become still more so after they deliberate with one another.

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Examples of risky decisions include accepting a new job, investing in a foreign country, escaping from a prisoner-of-war camp, and running for political office. Later studies called this conclusion into question—and created a puzzle. On many of the same issues on which Americans made a risky shift, Taiwanese participants made a cautious shift.

Even among American participants, deliberation sometimes produced cautious shifts. Cautious shifts took place most often in decisions about whether to marry and whether to board a plane despite severe abdominal pain. What explains these unruly findings? When members are initially disposed toward risk taking, a risky shift is likely. When they are initially disposed toward caution, a cautious shift is likely.

A finding of special importance for business is that group polarization occurs for matters of fact as well as issues of value. Suppose people are asked how likely it is, on a scale of zero to eight, that a product will sell a certain number of units in Europe in the next year. Even federal judges—experts in the law and supposedly neutral—are susceptible to group polarization. If you want to know how an appellate judge will vote in an ideologically contested case, you might want to find out whether she was appointed by a Republican or a Democratic president.

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But in many areas of the law, an even better predictor is who appointed the other judges on the panel. The first and most important involves informational signals—but with a few twists. Group members pay attention to the arguments made by other group members. Arguments in any group with an initial predisposition will inevitably be skewed in the direction of that predisposition. As a statistical matter, the arguments favoring the initial position will be more numerous than those pointing in another direction.

Individuals will have thought or heard of some but not all the arguments that emerge from group deliberation. Thus deliberation will naturally lead people toward a more extreme point in line with what they initially believed. Leaders can refuse to take a firm position at the outset, thus making space for more information to emerge. The second reason involves reputation again.