Sideways Lens Part 1
In all we're going to do the sideways lens, we covered negative space in our course. Sideways is so big it comes in two parts. The sideways is about us and our preferences and biases and how that is filtering our thinking and it's about them. Everybody that's not us and their preferences and biases and then it's about once we understand that how can we manipulate it and how can we force ourselves into that bearable discomfort of thinking outside of where we're comfortable into an area of aah! Because it's good for us and it activates the creative side of our thinking that we don't usually do particularly in this first section. So this first section is about you, me, us. It's about yourself and it's about understanding what biases and what preferences you use to filter everything you put out. So that idea for instance if you're designing a product to sell or an environment, where as an architect I was constantly trying to do this in a way was design a beautiful environment, right. What ...
is beautiful, one person's open space house is another persons nightmare, it just depends on how many kids you have and how loud they are, right. So what I might think is beautiful and suited for me and let's face it, usually when we're thinking about new things, we're thinking about people like us. It's either we're thinking about ourselves or thinking about people just like us because we are of that Aristotlian type of thinking. Which is very centered on the individual and usually it's ourselves, so this is us and our perceptions and how that's gonna filter then what we're doing and how in particular we have coming up a particular tool that addresses what we don't do because we don't like it. So in our work and in our thinking how we avoid certain things because we're just not interested. And if we're not interested or if we actually vehemently dislike something we are never ever going to choose that as a solution, which means that we might be missing perfectly viable and possibly really interesting and creative answers to problems by avoiding what we don't like, that's coming. Meanwhile I want to talk about this concept that is similar in the first instance or the second instance with design thinking. So often I get asked about adventurous thinking and where it sits with design thinking and the simple answer is adventurous thinking is design thinking but if you think of design thinking as specifically about empathy and observing others, using things, you as the expert observing how other people are doing things. Then you need to understand through the sideways lens you as the expert are going to filter that information depending on your preferences and biases. And then also design thinking is not really focused on you as the interviewer or the observer or the deliverer, it's a purely customer focused or empathy based thing. So in dividing the sideways into two parts I'm going the second part is much more design thinking at looking at the people but the first part it all about you, it's all about you, it's very navel gazing. Because as soon as you understand what your preferences and biases are you can do work around. You can try to get in under the skin of yourself to try and find out what your missing, the wood for the trees, right. So it's exciting and interesting and frustrating all at once, do you really wanna know how you look at the world, kinda, but once you do know that. Then we can start to work around and that's what's key. So and to start with some basic outlines of sideways thinking, some of the things that we take for granted depending on our point of view. The first is cultural bias, this is a classic Aussie photo the entire beach in Australia is covered in people wearing Speedos and who knew until I moved to this country that wasn't the norm, I didn't know. In fact we went to a pool party early on and my hubby husband who's a big swimmer said to me, oh can you bring my Cozzies (trunks) so I said yeah no worries, I'll get the Cozzies I'll bring them to the party. I came to the party through him his Speedos and his host saw him catch this tiny bundle of material and went oh. I just gave him his Speedos, are we good. And she went oh my parents are here so he could wear trunks that would be good and we've actually got some that you should put on. I'm like I don't understand, it's swimmers, right. Lori you're from England, we wear Speedos there don't we?
Yeah more I'm half Australian, so I understand.
So you're with me on this.
So this was an entirely different cultural bias that I had no understanding of, so I had someone say to me grab a photo for this campaign of a guy in his Cozzies, I would probably default to Speedos because I would assume that is the norm. So what's interesting is understanding what we think is the norm and which is not the norm for other people. You know as soon as we try to really understand what our cultural expectations are then we can be open to what they're not, to what we're missing. We're expecting something to be beautiful in a certain way because we and people like us think it's beautiful. When in fact it's a big, wide, crazy world out there. And there was a really interesting experiment by a photo journalist who sent out a photo of herself across 40 different countries using photo shop enthusiasts. So she found people that photo shop in 40 different countries, she sent out her photo and she said make me beautiful as you think your country would want me to look, give me your ideal of beauty. And what came back were 40 such despair images it was amazing, some people had loaded on the makeup some people had stripped it completely off. Some people had given her flaming red hair, you know some people had completely veiled her. And so it was really interesting the only instructions was make me beautiful and in that you saw 40 really different facets of beauty. So when we think the fact that we're a global society and we're all trying to deal with people from different countries, these tiny little nuances can be incredibly meaningful. So it's really interesting to take a moment to think okay what am I cultural norms and then possibly what am I missing, what aren't my cultural norms and how interesting what are other people's norms that I wouldn't even think of. You know colors are are one thing some people say green is the color danger. Most people say red is the color of danger when I see an exit sign in green, I'm a little confused. I sort of think it means go not stop so cultural. Age bias one of my favorite examples of age bias is this for Third Age Suit, so age bias is best explained with this example the Ford engineers designing Ford's cars say five years ago maybe eighth years ago now were generally in their 20's. But they're designing for a generally graying population and so it tended to be that the interiors in particular that they designed were not working for older people. I mean as a shortish female I can already tell you 'cause I'm also a car judge that for years and years and years I haven't been able to get the leg reach to the peddle to match the arm reach to the wheel. Because all the ergonomics people were using for so long for cars were men, right, women just don't have that proportion and so you have to jack the seat up and move it forward and be right close to the airbag and that is a reality when people aren't designing for you. Well that's sort of changed now but what happened in Ford was how do you tell a 24 year old to design for a 70 year old, like you know is it in one ear and out the other or do you activate them, do you have them experience the difference. As Dan said in his segment do you watch the person and not the interior, what if you put them in a suit that simulated the movement restriction, glaucoma, stiffness of an older person and then had them get into their own interior and drive that car. That's what Ford did, an incredible way to sort of transcend because it's a bit like adventurous thinking. The mindset, the system, you know ideally my audience and you at home would all be cross pollinating, we'd all be actively back and forth discussing this stuff and feeling the mindset but the way we're teaching means we can't necessarily do that, I have to tell it to you and it's another step for you to actually activate. Similarly you could give these guys ergonomic box till the cows come home but that's not necessarily gonna make them think actively about that customer. Putting them in a suit that forces them to live that reality for a certain period of time, is incredibly effective. It's also used with those beer glasses where people go into schools and get kids to put on big glasses literally, not big goggles big glasses. To simulate how it feels when you're drunk, how it feels when you're stoned. And now can you walk let alone could you drive a car. It's a really interesting part of age bias and various consciousness biases, you can now simulate this stuff, you can use virtual reality or you can in fact build a suit that puts you literraly in the shoes of someone else, so that's understanding you know what am I like if I'm when I first started my classes at Stanford I said to them you know who am my audience be. And the guy who was booking me looked at me and said oh I think women age 40 to 50 who might work part time. I think he was looking at me, I feel like he just picked what he thinks I do which was really weird, the reality was in fact that it was half girls, half guys, young, old, students, unemployed, whatever we're coming to this thing but the assumption was people like me would want what people like me do. So we need to move outside that and think about who is not like us, so understand where we are physically, age wise, culturally and then push outside of that to see what we're missing, who we're not catering for 'cause we don't generally go the the people that we don't understand and the people we understand are people just like us. The third one I had to remove because it was an ad, we can't show ads here but visualize if you will it was an amazing anti gun campaign that said if they can find it they can play with it. And in this particular one on this screen there was a kid with a bunch of tampons on each finger and pads glued all over his face. It found mom's bathroom draw basically, it was such an epic ad because it took all those things that nobody talks about and pasted them all over this kid like it was a play thing and it was all about using a taboo topic to grab attention. So being aware of what's taboo to you personally and then what's taboo to your audience is a really key part of communicating. If you know what people are going to be shocked by it's interesting the MET gala this year used Catholic imagination as their theme and a ton of people were up in arms although I thought the costumes were great but it's a really interesting thing, people would choose taboo topics to grab a reactions or you can accidentally do it. So it's really important to be purposeful if you're going to hit that taboo button and it's important to think about oh that's interesting what are my limits, what is taboo, what wouldn't I show. How interesting why, so this sort of self understanding and of course it comes down to questioning, we have a whole separate lesson on questioning 'cause it's so important but it's again part of curiosity but it's pointed at you like we sort of accept what we are but in fact how important to know like what peaks your buttons and then what are you blind to. 'Cause you just don't wanna know about it that will be taboo, kind of interesting. So understanding you is the first important thing and one massive aspect of that is how you view life. Are you for instance an optimist like me? Crazy optimist, ridiculous quite irrational optimist. That's okay, optimism is catching, so being an optimist can be really good but what if you're not. What if you're naturally a little pessimistic what can you do? The first thing you can do is be aware of it and be aware of how that outlook is tainting as is optimism is tainting the way you do things, right? And if you're super, super reasonable which might be driving a ton of people crazy and you just don't know it how is that affecting the way you're thinking. There's no judgment in any of these but it's a greater understanding of yourself. To ask well how do I approach life, like what is my basic view point and maybe ask a couple other people what do you reckon. Like am I normally the devils advocate, am I normally the crazy oh yeah you should do that, woo? Or am I, I don't think it's a good idea? 'Cause once you understand how you're approaching stuff you can work on it but mainly you can look at work arounds to make sure that your default situation isn't your only option in thinking, that's the key. So sideways part one focusing on you is just about understanding what you are not really trying to change you but understanding what little blocks your preferences set up so you can duck and weave around them and give yourself other options. Again outside your area of expertise, another really key part of understanding yourself is understanding how you like your information. So most of us 60% of us plus are visual people, which is why info graphics is such an explosive industry we like to see our stuff looking good, sort of pretty, explaining pictures, ideally maybe moving pictures I think has become the new norm. But some of us like to hear, hoping the people in this class like to hear, talking a lot at you. But you know if you don't there are slides for visuals however how about kinesthetic, my personal preference is I have high visual but I have pretty high kinesthetic too, I like to move around a lot. And I think my theory is that actually more and more people are kinesthetic, we need to action. If we're talking about action, we're talking about mind set, we're talking about doing something, the best way to learn is to do it. Not to listen to it, but either way try and work out which of these you prefer as your information source. And then think about the other ones, think about the ones you don't prefer. What might you be missing, 'cause you don't really like listening, what might you be missing 'cause you actually don't get up and try things immediately and then you can actually push yourself into physical bearable discomfort by doing that stuff, by taking your information in a different way just to see 'cause you're curious. Just to see how that might change the game for you 'cause everything is about popping you out of what you know and into what you don't know and so this is a key part.