innovation needs Humanology
May 16, 2020

Why innovation needs Humanology: 3 more design principles to guide you

By Paul Laughlin

This is part two of a two-part series from guest blogger, Ty Francis, on why innovation needs Humanology.

In part one, Ty defined his use of the term Humanology (check that out here). He also began to share the first two of five principles that enable innovation work (either online or offline).

Since publishing Ty’s first post, I have noticed so many people mention the need to humanise our work. The need for marketing & proposition design to still be customer insight-led. The need for team collaboration & leadership to focus on humanising communications.

It appears that Ty has tapped into the current zeitgeist and a real need for us all to get better at working this way. So, back to Ty to continue to guide us through those his remaining three principles that bring to life Humanology over Technology…

Innovation needs Humanology – 3 more design principles

Let’s continue to look at the design principles we work with at meus, in enabling innovation both online and in physical environments. In part one I shared: (1) don’t create – co-create; (2) don’t come up with good ideas. Here are three more, which are all dos not don’ts:

(3) File

It’s not sexy, but one of the main findings of a Forbes Technology Council review in 2018 of why 70% of Digital Transformation initiatives fail, is the time wasted in unnecessary online administrative work. This distracts people from the time that could be better spent being creative, strategic and collaborative. That review notes:

“We spend a quarter of our time looking for information. To add insult to injury, we typically search for files we created, archived in some data silo under a folder name we have forgotten. It is time to start consolidating (or at least pointing) these data sources into a single place where teams can access the data they need to do their jobs, in a self-service, real-time fashion.” 

Steven Zobell, 2018, Why Digital Transformations Fail – Closing the $900 Billion Hole in Enterprise Strategy. Forbes Technology Council. March 13th 2018

When teams across the global corporations we facilitate, collaborate on innovation and transformation projects, we take time during project set-up to establish clear filing protocols. We use shared DropBoxes and intranets – and we police these protocols religiously. This not only saves our clients money and time – it really does free people up to perform vital knowledge-work.

(4) Be here and now

Many of our clients waste years trying to understand what technologies will drive business transformation five years from now. In the process, they miss out on the innovation and transformation potential of tech that is applicable and accessible right now

An obvious example is a boom in the use of MS Teams, Zoom, Miro, Slack, Basecamp, Flock and more, for online collaboration (as a direct consequence of the Coronavirus crisis). Yet none of these applications is new or technologically radical!

Stay current – use what you already have more fully and imaginatively. At meus, we have massively improved our clients’ experience of us online, simply by using good quality external microphones and cameras. A big improvement on relying on the cams and mics built into Zoom and MS Teams. The quantifiable difference in image and sound quality is appreciated by clients who have to spend more time online than usual…

(5) Mindset trumps tech-set

However sophisticated your technology set-up is, if people do not have the right mindset and current organisational practices are flawed, any technology advantages will be neutralised.

We spend time on our innovation and transformation projects, talking about the purpose, meaning and underpinning philosophy of what we are engaging people on.

We also emphasise micro-practices like personal check-ins and group onboarding sessions for clients, to develop a sense of intimacy and camaraderie. This seems even more important and beneficial online than in person. Companies can be so tech-obsessed, that they miss the opportunity to develop cultures of innovation – a deciding-factor in establishing a competitive advantage.

Do you agree that innovation needs Humanology?

If so, how are you putting this into practice? Thanks for Ty Francis for those practical & relevant design principles. I’d also be delighted to hear from others on how they are humanising the work they do online.

Innovation & leadership during the crisis. Let’s keep sharing how we can improve both in a very human & collaborative way.