I’ve decided to take a 3+ month sabbatical from frog to kick-back, launch a few projects including a couple of books, take in some interesting travel and generally slow things down enough to broaden the mind and warm the soul. It will include distant lands and high mountains, including more remote parts of Asia.
I’ve written this before but it’s worth repeating: that the gutter between consultant-as-change-agent and corporate whore is littered with fat bonuses and broken dreams. Making money is easy. What you turn down, the money that you leave on the table defines you more than what you take. This is a timely moment to reflect on priorities.
Working for a commercial consultancy naturally raises numerous (often daily) moral and ethical issues about the kinds of clients and projects that are taken on and within projects, the kinds of (design) decisions that are taken. Within a consultancy the research/insights practice is (or should be) at the forefront of facing these issues ahead of the rest of the org, understanding how they can play out worldwide, and in exploring the consequences. I’d go so far as to say that if your research is not raising moral and ethical dilemmas you’re probably not doing it right.
How does this play out for product design in 2014? The line between socially acceptable and not is constantly shifting and it takes a nuanced understanding of behaviour to understand where norms will settle and what it will take to shift them. For those skilled in the arts of good and/or behaviourally manipulative design the question is whether you want to shift them and why. If you want to understand how these issues could play out read Reflections on Google Glass. In a world of connected things it’s not enough to eat your own dog-food, the people you love need to eat it as well and you have to be willing to watch them choke.
I’ll be sharing out a few things in the new year that should interest Future Perfect regulars and further down the line writing about consultancy life.
Enjoy your winter break.
See you on the other side.
Photo: last month somewhere on the edge of the Tibetan plateau on one of those days when lungs were filled, muscles were stretched and lips were scorched.