User Centered Innovation is not going make us Sustainable
As Roberto points out, this is because people, are not sustainable in their DNA make up, especially when the harsh reality of the world (budgets, health, wellness etc.) gets in the way. This is also probably because it is human nature for people to look out for themselves first rather than their neighbor.
Therefore Roberto Verganti’s post User-Centered Innovation Is Not Sustainable really highlights two issues and is summed up in the quote below.
Only forward-looking executives, designers, and, of course, policy makers may introduce sustainable innovation into the economic picture. They need to step back from current dominant needs and behaviors and envision new scenarios. They need to propose new unsolicited products and services that are both attractive, sustainable, and profitable.
It is only within the framework of a vision-centered process that users can provide precious insights. There are indeed some people who are already adopting sustainable behaviors. However, they are rare exceptions. Only leaders and designers who are driven by a vision and who explicitly search a priori for those sustainable behaviors can tune out the unsustainable needs of 99% of users and focus on the few exceptions.
Roberto’s first point is very similar to my view on our environmental and sustainability problems. I really do believe sustainable behaviors will be Sustainability 2.0. Only when we change our consumption behaviors can we look towards a more sustainable future. Designers, who focus on the interface between man and machine, can play a big part in creating solutions to influence or foster sustainable behaviors. It is all about changing our current behaviors and the way we are used to doing thing. That is a difficult task indeed.
His other point goes back to our previous discussion that User Centered Innovation is Dead. As we pointed out in the beginning of this post people have a hard time projecting the future when they are caught up in their own personal priorities. However in my view, the real issue here is how can the world change when marketers and business people are motivated to continue to deliver what people want and do not have the courage and go against the grain (or market research statistics) and deliver solutions that people need?
Check out the rest of Roberto’s excellent post at HBR.