(the discussion in this group will be part of my upcoming book, website and (hopefully) a positive contribution to our ever changing world)
People have two basic needs: Being happy as often as possible and staying healthy as long as possible.
Reaching and finding a balance between these needs is what constantly drives us.
And it is not an easy task. Specially since many of our organisations, the systems we created, seem incapable to care about us being happy and healthy. Mostly they are driven by the pursuit of profit and power. There are far too many examples of this happening. And often we feel too small and powerless to change anything as individuals.
Can we design systems that care? Can organisations, companies and governments, really care about people, life, nature, our planet?
And protect the things that are the most valuable to us?
Tell me whatever comes to mind!
What does a system that cares look like? Do you have examples? If not, what should or could it look like?
My research into Human Motivation and its relationship with design has seen me exploring a lot of organismic theories of human behaviour, those are the theories that suggest we are naturally predisposed or energised to grow or seek new challenges, affiliation or environments in order to remain healthy, happy and fulfilled.
Obviously not everyone is in agreement on the underlying mechanisms of human motivation and behaviour, there are many models, but these are issues that we as designers revisit often in the form of the well intentioned but hideously over-cited and rarely understood Maslow's Hierarchy is based on such a humanist/organismic perspective.
My own research is exploring a newer an more updated model of which I attach an early draft below, one that also represents the iterative and dynamic nature of human behaviour - something that is overlooked in Maslow's version.
My model and the research that underpins it (predominantly Deci and Ryan's Self Determination Theory) indicates that in order to remain psychologically fulfilled we need to balance three psychological needs for AUTONOMY (Self Reflection, Independence, Empowerment), RELATEDNESS (Socialisation, Care and Concern for and from others), COMPETENCE (Feelings of efficacy, self control and accomplishment).
Deci and Ryan's premise (and mine) is that only by balancing and fulfilling these core psychological needs will be truely HAPPY and HEALTHY. My model attempts to illustrate how these INTRINSIC (some might say INNATE) psychological needs are often balanced against EXTRINSIC design factors and criteria and just as with Maslow's Hierarchy if we want as designers to design systems and services that leave us feeling fulfilled they will need to address all of these INNATE HUMAN with EXPLICIT DESIGN capabilities and specifications.
If an intentionally or accidentally designed system cannot SELF REGULATE, or as you say Arne, "balance" EXTRINSIC and INTRINSIC demands it ultimately will become unsustainable.
To help make this idea more explicit I will elaborate - much of industrial design is focussed on the SENSORY features of products, services and systems, whilst interaction design and 'soft design disciplines' are interested in COGNITIVE levels of interaction. Recently of course, as most of us here will be aware Design has begun to shift towards more ORGANISATIONAL or 'Service' perspectives in an attempt to satisfy the 'NEEDS' of its users and customers. Or perhaps if I put it more cynically - in an attempt to continue to generate value for stakeholders in the design process. This shift in the focus of design, as is well documented, has occurred as a result of technology that initially enable 'interfaces' and more recently high levels of social connectivity and networking.
With my model, I hope to help move design one step closer to exactly the call you've made here Arne, by helping designers to understand how their expertise in manipulation of SENSORY, COGNITIVE and ORGANISATIONAL affordances and data can be better focussed on meeting users genuine SOCIAL, COMPETENCE and AUTONOMY needs and in turn designing systems that are by consequence self motivating, sustaining and perhaps as you allude here 'caring'.
Just realised I can probably use Marc's above example to help elaborate my model yet further.
The lovely Jay Parkinson's HelloHealth platform, allows users who become incapable of self-regulating their own PHYSIOLOGICAL or psychological systems (get ill) but who don't have private health insurance, get access to a doctor on a pay as you go basis.
This platform provides a ORGANISED structure that allows them COMPETENTLY increase their understanding (COGNITION) of their health issue as a result of RELATING to medical professionals through a Facebook type interface from the SENSORY comfort of their own homes. The fact that the service utilises an existing platform of the user's computer and a clear easily navigable interface helps users AUTONOMOUSLY navigate it and gain a clearer insight into the cause of their discomfort and hopefully remedy it successfully.
Seems pretty self evident doesn't it, that said I'm sure we can think of plenty of other systems and services that didn't enable this seamless an interaction perhaps because we weren't able to PHYSICALLY or COGNITIVELY interact with it or because the ORGANISATIONAL structure wasn't clear and thus we felt like we lacked sufficient COMPETENCE or psychological security to interact with the system.
Such breakdowns in the interaction may have been caused by one particular interaction or a combination but either way caused a breakdown in our motivation towards use of the product, system or service. The higher level the breakdown the more long term the damage, i.e. a loss in MOTIVATION as a result of SENSORY breakdown is not as damaging to user perceptions of the product or service as an ORGANISATIONAL one. What I hope to present with this model is a predictive structure, where designers can attempt to test and remedy these such breakdowns by for example compensating for complexity in their products and services by providing more opportunities for SOCIAL INTERACTION or insight into the underlying ORGANISATIONAL STRUCTURE, to give but one example...
To further make my point, and only half in jest, you could also say that in attempt to better ORGANISE my thinking on this topic and my feelings of COMPETENCE related to it, I am putting it out into SOCIETY to assess who easy it if for you to RELATE to it - let me know what you think!! :-)
You did tell us to tell you whatever comes to mind :-)
I would like to go back in time and look at the old family doctor. He was there for us in sickness and in health. He would admonish me if I got sick due to personal excesses. He applauded me on my achievements. He was willing to wait for his fees if I was a little tight. He gave me advice on nutrition, alternative medicine and never over medicated me
With us it was a partnership in health. He was happy and made us happy.
He had a good practice and did well financially
Happiness is a state of mind. My wife is happy whether I make a dollar or a thousand per month
She is unhappy if I do not smile when I get home
We have to build businesses with a heart. It is not about ROI all the time
And as employees we have to enjoy ever day at work
It is in our hands what we make of the day
I believe the key is education
Educating ourselves and educating others
We also have to learn to adopt best practices
We should avoid cult thinking
It is not about charts, processes, strategies, seminars
It is about following your heart
It is to love thy neighbor
It is about respecting ourselves
It is about setting examples
It is about learning to live simple lives
It is not about glory
It is about hope
It is for being a citizen of the world
In the Ayurvedic system the principle was to strengthen the inner self
It was not about antibiotics
If we have all this happiness and good health will automatically follow
Thank you very much for this response! And I agree with you completely.
Why does it keep happening that when we organize ourselves group-thinking takes over. I believe this is the heart of the problem. Things become too complex, too big, so we stop thinking about the system we are part of and only focus on that whats in front of us. Could keeping things smaller, simpler be a solution? Is that possible? What do you think?
'Keeping' is an interesting term here Arne, it implies a controlling influence, perhaps the stemming of natural energisation and growth, which ultimately as a form of repression is potentially going to create an imbalance within the system?
As many others have said and perhaps Don Norman most prominently, services like much of nature are recursive entities, that is what starts as a small individual initiative grows and multiplies exponentially upon, from and within itself. Perhaps like Wenovski the network, itself having mutiplied rapidly in recent months, the key is not to 'keep' organisations anything. Rather as designers it is perhaps creating small tools or harnessing the similarly insatiable growth of technology to better enable people to navigate and locate the small chunks and sections of these big networks that they wish to interact with at any one time and to better understand their own relationship within that environment...?
We're tripping back into the territory of memes again, :-) but my own view is much as Daniel has said, providing tools to better understand one's inner self and relationship with the environment that the key, so that no matter how complex or big things become we still know how to regulate ourselves?
What a fantastic way of re-framing the situation, allowing employees to demonstrate the 'value' the organisation they work for by being appointed carers of it. Of course enabling this would require the powers that be to stop 'controlling' the corporation. This is (as Simon Clatworthy helpfully pointed out last week at #nordicsdc) an awful lot like the Zappos 'culture' http://bokardo.com/archives/zappos-culture-evident-in-their-design/ This sort of 'shoe wearing' strategy is a practical example of the 'internalized extrinsic motivational' strategy mentioned in the above article.
It is an enriching experience to read, write and be part of a community which really cares about making a difference. Arne had a laudable goal and interesting challenges. All of us came out with very well researched and informed responses based on our education & experience. There were also some very informative and interesting articles on the subject. I can see the project taking off in a very positive note
I have been fortunate in my career to work for or be associated companies ranging from 50 to 1000 people in one functional site. Some of the larger companies have been touted as some of the best employers to work for in the US.
Personally the most enriching experience for me has been with companies which were run by the entrepreneurs.
Most of them did not have to answer to share holders and as such had a level of independence. These were companies which cared about their clients, community and employees.They were companies where we could empower ourselves. They listened to our suggestions and used them whenever possible. So to a certain extent we were part of the companies growth. I do agree that it helped to be small and flexible.
Some of these companies were at some time bought out by bigger corporations. In one of these companies the parent corporation brought in their own people. There was a cultural difference and it was more of ROI than a company with a heart. Sad to this this unit is not even in existence now.
But one of the larger corporations was ready to experiment. They did not make any changes but empowered the management saying they would allow organic growth as long as they did not lose money. This unit has prospered beyond expectations.
Last but not least I want to talk about my friend Julio. Julio is a simple dedicated operator in the company I work for.
We took him recently to be part of a new equipment acceptance. One of the modules of this piece of equipment was malfunctioning. We were all brain storming for solutions. Julio came out with a very simple and low cost workable solution. It was implemented successfully. Now, Julio does not know anything about Design Thinking or Six Sigma.
He is of course extremely computer literate, has a high school diploma and is a model employee. But he was encouraged to be in a meeting which he would normally not have been invited to and contributed beyond expectations. He is always there with a smile, willing to help his team mates and extremely positive about life.
I have been thinking of the basic frame work for a corporation that cares.
Of course the corporation has to be able to sustain itself as a minimum requirement.
The corporation has to set itself some minimum standards for emissions.
The corporation has to set itself some minimum standards for team member sustenance.
The team members have to set up for themselves standards for human behavior.
Of course a lot of this is relative and has to be decided by the entities or individuals themselves
As an exercise I am assuming this can even be a virtual corporation whose first product is a pemmPOD
The corporation has to care for its customers (Internal & External), team members, business partners and its immediate community and the world in large.
Now using the best technology tools the world can have has business advantages.
I believe using renewable material will have a high order of priority.
The usual area of concern for a mobile user is in the reliability of the product.
I believe that reliability would also have a high order of priority.
I believe ergonomic working practices would have a high order of priority.
How about psychic income?
How about child care?
How about housing? I know companies in India which provide free housing.
As far as education goes in today's world there is so much available free on line and I believe the team member owes it to themselves to self educate.
How about a beautiful online buying experience?
Hoping I can stoke some fires today :-)
This is a topic that cannot be subjected to charts, graphs or diagrams. Perhaps they can be used in planning an outcome, but to take into account everything related to happiness and health within the topic of design thinking an organizational systems would be near impossible. Well, okay, maybe not near impossible, but you would need a lot of paper.
Personally I think Maslow’s hierarchy is gibberish. It is indeed a complex model, but it takes into account the wrong things. I agree with Fergus on this. Maslow’s hierarchy is indeed humanist, impractical and lacks dynamism. The reason why it doesn’t work is simple—not all humans are culturally or genetically the same. Sure, if you take into account Christian fundamentalism and humanity as a massive conglomeration of similarly designed people, then we are the same. We are not the same in mentality; therefore these models do not work.
Take into account McGregor’s Theory X and Theory Y now. Fergus also mentioned this. He believes that humanity is indeed self-motivated, predisposed to the need for new challenges, new affiliations and new environments. This is a great point. It also sounds very similar to McClelland’s Theory of Needs. Perhaps humanity needs to be constantly prodded to remain happy—we must, in theory, keep people from doing the same jobs over and over, or spice things up a bit by constantly introducing new technologies or best-practices.
Again, the theories that McGregor divulged are incredibly naïve. I believe that there is no black or white in terms of motivation. Humans, again, are only similar as a conglomeration, not in mentality.
I do believe, though, in McLelland’s theory of needs more than anything… for the most part. People strive for power, achievement and affiliation. What would the point of living be other than the desire for these three things? We must have power over our own lives, and not have a corporation delegating to us how to live. Arne and Daniel, you both make a great point about this by saying that larger organizations are chiefly focused on ROI instead of focusing on and sating their customers and employees as people. Think about Capitalism, personal pursuits over the prosperity of society and the near-collapse of the stock market. Perhaps that should be touched on?
Perhaps people, now diminishing the need of theories, work because it’s the societal “right thing to do.” They feel tied to society with no way to escape. They work because they want to live, not because they want to work. Does this make any sense? I think it does, regardless of whether people actually enjoy their job or not. Excuse me for being a little straightforward here, but the following is what I’m talking about. People work to earn a living to support their pursuits outside of the workplace. Otherwise they wouldn’t work at all. There are many kinds of pursuits outside of the workplace, namely watching television, drinking beer, complaining about everything conceivable, skiing, creating art or whatever you choose to do. Who is to say that one thing falls under my previous statement, or not? It’s people’s choice what they do outside of the organization or not, whether it is subconscious or conscious. People are either “living,” or in my opinion “not living,” sitting at home, watching television and complaining about things they can’t fix because they’re not motivated to do anything other than perform menial and mindless tasks at work, eat, and watch television at home. Sometimes we have to be realistic. Some people are capable of reasoning, some are not. Thus, people are different through mentality; betterment of society and attainment of intellectual status versus being afraid of change and being selfish.
What I do think are some interesting topics that could be considered, Arne, are as follows:
-Politics intervening in the happiness of society; capitalism, socialism, democracy, communism, bureaucracy, etc…
-Poverty (which may be an elaboration on the political system), people understanding society as a big picture instead of a naïve (depends on your concept of the term) hyperlocal, physiologically unaware and selfish system.
-Religion influencing society. Capitalism, conservatives, contradictions, etc… perhaps you all may want to avoid this though.
-Organizational systems adopting OB, culture and best-practices that Daniel mentioned.
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