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Designer As Catalyst

Yesterday, I had the great pleasure of speaking at the Internet Summit in the Raleigh Convention Center downtown. I participated in the session on Content, Design, and Usability, which brought out some very useful perspectives. Sherry Bastion of Lenovo set the stage with Digital Experiences that Build Brand, Loyalty and Sales, followed by Todd Moy of Viget Labs, who illuminatated The Secret World of Usability. I went next, discussing Web Design as a Strategic Tool, and Michael Gowan wrapped up with Maximizing the Impact of Content. Thanks to everyone for the feedback — tons of smart people there! 

I posted my presentation on SlideShare if you’re interested. I focused on shifting from designer as website maker to designer as catalyst, who can solve technical problems as well as act as facilitator through the adaptive challenges (or the messy problems) that organizations face these days. I illustrate four areas where catalysts can approach these challenges and 14 principles that will help:

  1. Clarify complicated things to create meaning.
  2. Align self interest with shared purpose to ensure motivation.
  3. Inspire action through openness to inspire contributions.
  4. Form with intent to find answers.

There’s also an opportunity to shift — building on the knowledge of user-centric design — towards a community-centric design model which focuses on designing conditions and opportunities for relationships.

My hope is that these thoughts highlight an evolving role the design-minded individual can play in building brands, solving tough problems, and finding opportunities in the coming years.

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