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Live from FUSE 2013: Day one: Wake up to Design Thinking.

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Day one : For your reading enjoyment. 
We had a handful of speakers this morning. Here are some of the
interesting elements to take back to the office and summarize for your team '
so they know something of what you learned on this trip to Chicago. More to come.
8:30 // John Silva got it started with a discussion on empathy and the
balance of looking at the world through the empathetic lens. He made a point of
contrast between big data and big empathy. He also left us with a sad but
thoughtful comment on the use of technology leading to 'being alone, together.'
9:00 // Tina Zinter-Chahin from Fisher-Price was up next and she had some marvelous points. They hired six partners to help design a
future of opportunities for their brands. They did this through a process of
simplification and more insightful focus on mom and her children. The results
were interesting, the removal of a large bucket of sub-brands, the
simplification of packaging, the new focus on mom's friends and her social
circles, and the thoughtful focus on product design philosophies. But, the
process was likely the more valuable for this audience. The Bain group (one of
the six partners) actually engaged with the director level, Tina's subordinates, in order to get closer to the challenges, not typical but more fruitful.
9:45 // Sonia Whitely and Sarah Dear led us away from a 'Good Better
Best' way of thinking and in the direction of a more engaging design to relieve
audiences from their anxieties. While they really didn't fulfill on the implied
promise of the title, the stories had some nice visual candy.
The two most important points to me seemed to be Morrison's focus on the
craft of meats and their way of delivering a unique form of meat to their
store. Having a university isn't a new thing, but the way Morrison's does it
seemed to build the craft and encompass the entire shopping experience. The
second was the M Kitchen starting with a corporate office remodel to put the
kitchen at the center of the office. It would be obvious to aliens. How would a
grocer not have the kitchen central to their office? But it is how things
are sometimes. Offices might not be designed to match the most important thing
to the brand / business / organization. Impressively done.
11:00 // Scott Power, Senior Brand Strategist, Kaiser Permanente really
took the content up a notch. He spoke on how Kaiser implemented Sonic
Guidelines for their gargantuan organization. Scott told an extremely
fascinating story which had the limitation of time, but the depth of music to
aid the audience. We got to see a bit inside a conservative organization and an
innovation not common in many businesses, conservative or not. The focus was on
how music improves, impacts and influences a patient experience. The results were
amazing and the audience could tell Scott was a hero returning from the
frontier telling a tale with appropriate brevity. If you are using music, this
story should push you further to a better place. If you're not using music in
your experience, this story should get you off the sofa and into using
music to influence a consumer experience. Thank you Scott, great presentation.
11:45 // Panel discussion on interaction design replacing branding was
heavy with intellect in the white chairs. The group was led by Cliff of Fast
Company and included Jenny Ji from Path (my favorite alternative to Facebook)
Robert from Frog design and Suzanne from Power2Switch.
The group started by knocking on the door of 'advertising as branding'
which it is not, but often is confused as such. Brands are driven by
interactions, digital and physical. The group has a background in designing
interactions and it makes for some insightful comments on design in UX. The
intention was good and the idea got through to me, but sometimes we get hung up
on using old words to describe new things and vice versa. And, the group
certainly hit hard on the mass advertising mentality. In the end, the group
seemed to stop knocking and left a medieval axe. This was a thoughtful
discussion and marvelous facilitation by Cliff Kuang of Fast Company.
Thank you,
Aaron Keller
Managing Principal

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