Today I had a chat with a friend over his startup. He mentioned that a few investors were not buying the fact that adding *digital efficiency* would really make a difference to their bottom line. And I though, boy, that’s a giant red flag because:
this is exactly the place where design matters most.
A lot of leaders today are out of touch with the needs of people and the empathy they’re asking and BEGGING for. And it’s our role as creators to bridge that gap on educating leaders on why making things as simple/easy as possible is the single most important thing they need to be focusing on. Why? Because simplicity is empathy. Adding beauty is empathy. Making things pleasant to experience is empathy. Listening to people's problems and solving them from a design perspective is empathetic action. It’s our role as creators to explain that while previous methods that are working are cool and all, if it can be done better people will notice and it’ll help raise their bottom line, time and time again. It's our role to empathize with people and demand leaders to take notice.
To do this well, creators need to have solid strategy to back 'dat up. A great example of this is a person you may not first think of when talking through strategy. The guy I'm talking about is founder Adam Braun, formerly a finance and strategy pro at Bain & Company, who via an insane life experience decided to create a non-profit that would produce water pumps in communities that had a really tough time getting it, known as Pencils of Promise. Adam too had an issue selling his ideas to investors. They pushed him aside, saying yeah that's nice and all. Thinking on his toes, he came up with a solution. Rather than it being non-profit, he called it FOR PURPOSE and put together an entire strategy and financial explanation behind that. He used his experience in strategy to sell through the idea, and in turn helped people all over the world. There are a ton of videos about him and his story, but here's a quick article on it.
This is also key to many millennial consumers, which may not be everyone’s target audience, but most people in that demographic actually care more about mission guided work than anything and asking, DEMANDING, that it be more efficient and thus overturning segments of markets that are inefficient. That's why a lot of these large companies are going down and smaller firms, startups and entrepreneurship goes up — maybe they can’t always stay up but at least it's their mission to try — because they're trying to bridge that gap. UX tries to bridge that gap. Strategy tries to bridge that gap. Design bridges that gap. Anyone who truly thinks empathetically bridges that gap. Thinking through serious problems and providing solutions people actually want is bridging that gap.
For me, I believe mission guided work is important, and also it needs substantial strategy behind it. I find that when people combine missions statements with efficiency it's the best of both worlds because you're preventing people from getting bored after their first thought of "hey this is cool!" and will down the line make them repeat customers. Take Pencils of Promise: without a mission and a solid strategy behind the sell, the end goal of helping people would have been futile. The entire reason people put their money down in the first place is because of a mission, and ALSO with the hope that a mission stays consistent and efficient. AKA love + action.
Here’s to smarter solutions and doing our best to educating the public about empathy. It’s our job to sell that with smart strategy to support our efforts in making this world not only more beautiful, but more efficient and amazing to live in as well.
What are your thoughts on adding a smudge (or handful) of empathy? Please comment below and let me know.