Photo by Iwona Castiello d’Antonio on Unsplash

Is human-centred design thinking still relevant?

I ,so badly, want to say yes.

I do, and “yes” is partly the correct answer but it isn’t the answer.

Human-centred design is a creative approach to problem-solving that starts with the people you’re designing for and ends with new solutions that are tailor-made to suit your audience’s needs. (IDEO.org, 2021)

This creative approach is all about building a deep empathy with the people you’re designing for to make life better for them. This approach has been one of the most adopted strategies by marketing gurus, team leaders and motivational speakers — all with hopes and aims to create fulfilling environments that bring the most out of people — consumers and their teams.

Human-centred design thinking encourages brands and businesses to create offerings that put the consumer first, and until recently has encouraged businesses to take care of their people and teams before external focuses.

But, this approach is slowly becoming redundant and irrelevant.

From a profit-driven world to a people-driven world — we have missed a planet-driven world, and quite frankly by the time we put our focus on that, it will be too late.

BBC Future reported that when the focus turned to people at the beginning of Lockdown 2020, “The amount of CO2 in the atmosphere reached record levels in 2020, hitting 417 parts per million in May. The last time CO2 levels exceeded 400 parts per million was around four million years ago.” (Bbc.com 2021). When brands and businesses turned to look at how can we prohibit the spread of the virus every few brands turned to look at re-introducing a world and society that is planet-centred.

By 2050, 68% of the world population will be in urban areas. This is urbanisation. No businesses and brands are addressing the issues of there being too many people in urban areas. Yet, in less than 30 years our biggest issues will be water quality, waste-disposal problems and high energy consumption — and these won’t be issues faced by consumers — but issues have had to be addressed by businesses and brands to cater to consumers and teams.

So why not start now?

I am not saying for businesses and brands to go vegan or go on endless enviro-protest. I am advising businesses and brands to start integrating the planet into their teams. (This is the long-run will reward you more — both in profit and your team). Integrating the planet into your team means being intentional about making space for green initiatives in your workspace. It isn’t conveniently filling decor with pot plants to look green, it is designing your office space to allow green growth — whether it’s installing full range LED light for optimum indoor plant growth or designing office spaces with entire floors or “departments” dedicated to growing vegetables/ fruits.

You have to be intentional about your team.

You need to be intentional about where your people are going to be in the next 30 years.

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