Musings on designing experiences & (re)engineering complexity

Feb 2018

Reflections Forward

Pausing from developing a prototype to think and ruminate a bit about the point of the actions we do forward. Not so much there’s a change happening with Avanceé - only that it makes sense to continue to look at goals and actions and then refine or reset where necessary.

Some years ago, we were present for a smart cities conference in The Hague (Netherlands). There, Avanceé’s founder gave a keynote titled “Respond.Shift.Present.Invoke.” In a short summary, the perspective was to make sure that we aren’t forgetting that people are and will always be the drivers of what makes smart cities worth the investment and curation. A slingshot back into this from an article at The Atlantic (Stop Saying Smart Cities) causes us to gather alongside this purpose to “go outside of the box” and mine what actually happens and for whom does it happen.

As that article so wisely details, you cannot have a smart city without also having its consequences. And such is the case with anything deemed innovation in behavior, practice, or product. Because these are driven by organisms, there’s always going to be change. Some of that change might very well come at the behest of a well-funded or well-noted stakeholder. However, the depth of that change, the depth of the transformations, come when the character of those impacted begin to take on that change. There is a saying which goes something like, “its not the first person to do something who is the leader, but its the one who follows that person. That’s the one who is regarded as leading and pioneering the effort.”

Such is the case here. We aren’t sure what the outputs or intentions of all of the work that Avanceé will put itself towards. What is clear though is that the leading and prodding foraward by us will cause others to see and take up the baton and run the race towards the character of their contexts. Avanceé will have products, will instigate new behaviors, etc., but the meat of its impact may very well happen well outside of the purview of our reach. It will be others which drive the change… we have to be ok with being vital for the spark, but maybe nameless on the medal.

That’s a hard place for any company to realize. Harder still to continue to communicate what the value is, when we are saying as much here - the value of Avanceé’s approach is not what we bring, but how you are carrying it forward when we have completed our engagement. While that challenge for us means making every effort to communicate effectively, for you that might mean changing your perspective from “us” being the smarter party, to “you” being the actual agent of change.