Season 3 Episode 5 with Sinem Erdemli and Callum Goodwilliam is now available. Listen now.
Oct. 13, 2022

From Human-Centred Design to Life-Centred Design with Dr. Martin Tomitsch

Professor of Interaction Design at the University of Sydney and author of “Design Think Make Break Repeat”, Dr. Martin Tomitsch, talks about the perils of human-centricity and makes a case for more sustainable way of building products and services through life-centred design.

#021 - Too much human-centricity is killing the planet and we’re part of the problem. In this episode, I chat with Dr. Martin Tomitsch on life-centred design, a new way of building products and services that considers the needs of non-human stakeholders and the planet.

Martin is a Professor in Interaction Design at the University of Sydney’s School of Architecture, Design and Planning. He teaches interface design, design thinking, creativity and innovation and leads the Urban Interfaces research group. He also is the lead author of “Design Think Make Break Repeat”, a handbook of design methods. In this episode, we shift the focus away from human-centred design and into life-centred design. Martin shares real life examples of how human-centricity is not always good for humans or for the planet and how designers can give start to make their work more life-centric. Martin will also be giving away 2 copies of his popular book “Design Think Make Break Repeat”.

In this episode:

  • What is life-centred design and how it is different to human-centred design
  • Negative impact of human-centred design
  • How to be aware of the unintended consequences of your designs
  • Adding Responsibility to Desirability, Feasibility and Viability
  • Giving non-human stakeholders a voice in the design process
  • What are non-human personas and how you create them
  • and much more!


“Design, Think, Make, Break, Repeat” Book

Ripple Impact canvas

Systems mapping

Middle Out Design Framework (Free open access paper)

Template for non-human personas

Life-centred design

Center for Humane Technology

“Ruined By Design” book

Cathedral thinking

“The Good Ancestor” book by Roman Krznaric

Design Feeling Episode 17 with Ben Pecotich

The Design Squiggle

Ep 2 Kate Pincott

“Design Your Life” book and course

“The Contemporary Practice of Design” by Steve Baty at UX Australia

Show credits

Illustrations by Kim Habib

Music by Brad Porter

Episode edited by Niall Mackay


[00:00:00] Martin Tomitsch: We as designers are really responsible for the wellbeing of future generations. And the reason we are suggesting this is that it encourages long term thinking. So rather than just thinking about the next quarter, or how can I quickly make, a lot of money with this quick idea or app or product, thinking about, okay, what does this mean for future generations?

[00:00:23] Nirish Shakya: That's Dr. Martin Tomitsch. Martin is a professor in interaction Design at the University of Sydney's School of Architecture Design and Planning, where he teaches design, creativity and innovation and also leads Urban Interfaces research group. He's also the lead author of Design, Think, Make, Break, Repeat, A Popular Handbook of Design Methods. In this episode, we shift the focus away from human center design into life center design. Martin shares real life examples of how human centricity is not always good for humans and for the planet, and how designers can start to make their work more life centric, including how to create non-human personas. Martin will also be giving away two copies of his book Design, think, make, break, repeat. Let's jump.

[00:01:18] Shivaun: This is the Design Feeling Podcast with your host Nirish Shakya. 

[00:01:32] Nirish Shakya: Hi, I'm Nirish Shakya, and I'm a designer, educator, and the host of my new podcast Design Feeling. Most of the time, you'll probably find me helping organisations put their customers first, or you might find me teaching design thinking and creative innovation, but I'm on a slightly different quest here - to explore the human behind the designer - who you are, what drives you, what frustrates you and why, and ultimately how you can bring more impact and meaning into your work.

[00:02:06] On this podcast, my expert guests, and I will be uncovering ways to increase your self-awareness, creative confidence and meaning.

[00:02:17] Martin Tom, welcome to Design. Feeling

[00:02:20] Martin Tomitsch: Thanks for having me. It's great to be here and I will look forward to our chat. 

[00:02:25] Nirish Shakya: Awesome. so Martin, 

Martin's favourite childhood moment 

[00:02:27] Nirish Shakya: what is your most favorite childhood memory that comes to mind when I ask that question?

[00:02:36] Uh, it's probably, uh, the arrival of spring, I have to say. uh, so I grew up on a farm in Austria, in the Austrian pre-ops. my parents had a dairy farm, and I remember the moment when, cause we had quite a lot of snow back in the day. I think it's different now, but had long winters, long cold winters and lot snow.

[00:02:58] Martin Tomitsch: And I remember at a moment when you realize it's like that first spring day and you go out and I guess when you're young, you have more time to, to spend, to spend time in, in nature and sit down and grass and like connect with nature. And I remember that moment when all the snow melted and the started to bloom and you.

[00:03:30] I can definitely, in my mind I'm visualizing, rolling hills, melting snow, greenery, flowers. that's a beautiful memory actually. does that have anything to do with what you do now? Is there any link?

[00:03:45] maybe very in a very indirect way. Like I wouldn't, consciously be able to point out that link, but maybe because I grew up on a farm and I should say my parents bought that farm. they were entrepreneurial farmers in a way, rather than coming out of a generation of farmers.

[00:04:00] Martin Tomitsch: And, because I grew up on a farm, so it really shaped, my early years and in my life maybe, I had a, I feel like I had a very strong connection to nature and animals at, because we had a lot of animals and you you always have to look after animals. you, I remember rescuing animals, like we had a little chicken that fell into a bucket of water and would've tred if it wouldn't have found it.

[00:04:22] And it took it inside. and so you you build a very strong connection in a way to nature that, That you wouldn't have if you grew up in a city. And so I think, like I was always, I was always very conscious about the environment and

[00:04:37] Id,

[00:04:41] And one of the most important topics that you are currently working on now is life center design, And I would love to know more about, well, first of all, how did you even get into design?

How Martin got into design

[00:04:57] Martin Tomitsch: so I always was, I was also interested in design, I guess when I was young. I don't know, it might have been when I was, 13, 14, I started designing the labels of the yogurt that have be produced and sold, or, and of labels for example, I remember during some of those, I somehow then, Ended up going more into a technical direction.

[00:05:20] I went to a, secondary school, that focus on it information technology. And so I, I learned how to program and how to, like basics about electronics. And at the same time, so I guess innovated enabled me to then build software and design software. So I got into that relatively early and I was developing the software to be then used to manage our farm and the product, the products that we sold, to shops.

[00:05:47] Martin Tomitsch: I was an organic farm, so we had our own sort of distribution network. and so in a way that was, it's interesting now looking back, because at the time there was no human centered design or user experience design. but that's what I was doing, right? And so when it was time for me to go to university, I was, I was still really interested in graphic design, so I looked at.

[00:06:08] I went to open the open days of three different universities. So I started in Vienna, and all in Vienna, the open day of the universities is all on the same day. And so I went to three different universities to look at three different programs, and that was, graphic design at the University of Applied Arts.

[00:06:26] I looked at studying business at the, the event business school, and I looked at studying informatics, at the University of Technology, which is what I chose in the end because it seemed like the provost degree in a way with giving me many options. Like I was a five year degree at the time.

[00:06:42] Martin Tomitsch: And I, I learned that I could specialize on the societal impact of technology in the later, in, the later part of the degree. And I was also able to still take electives from graphic design, from architecture, from business, which is what it did. And so it was a really, good foundation.

[00:06:57] that's how I ended up in design. I guess, yeah.

[00:06:59] Nirish Shakya: well, First of all, what is life center design and how is it different to what we normally do, which is human center design?

What is life-centred design and how it is different to human centred design

[00:07:10] Martin Tomitsch: Yeah, I mean there's a lot that happened for me, I guess between going to university and starting to work on life center design. so I, I also completed a PhD. I was very much focused on designing, understanding how is design the interactions between people and technologies. and I guess as I was, as a while I was a student, I got attracted to this field of, at the time we called it interface design and usability engineering.

[00:07:34] I got attracted to that because I was really, interested in. Helping improve the lives of people and doing that by designing better technologies, better software products, designing better ways for people to make use of those products. and I guess, I think a lot of us that are not doing humans at design or UX design ended up in, in, in this field, because of similar motivations.

[00:08:00] we wanted to help people. I, but what I realized over the last few years, is that, so we look at the business and the business environment and industry that human-centered, yes, human-centered design has been very successful, which is great. It's great for our field, it's great for my students. there are a lot of jobs out there now.

[00:08:20] a lot of businesses investing in human center design, but there are more and more examples. Where human-centered design has been used,in a way that has led to negative outcomes for, for people, for societies, for communities, and for the planet in some ways. And so that's when I, that's the reason why I started, looking at, alternative methodologies and studying what, looking at what other methodologies are there and studying, how in.

[00:08:59] Nirish Shakya: So Martin, you mentioned, there something around, how human centered design has had negative impact. could you. Give us, an example of that.

Negative impact of human-centred design

[00:09:10] Martin Tomitsch: Yeah. So I think, a great example is the, in the, idea of infinite scroll. So actually the founder, the inventor of, infinite scroll, Aza Raskin, actually, later regretted that he came up with this idea, , realizing how, detrimental it was for the users, of, digital applications.

[00:09:33] so of course, the problem with internet scroll is that you you keep serving, the user more and more information, and in the. You, you draw them in, which is great for business. it's great for social media platforms. You keep your users for longer. you can design your algorithms so you understand what they like, what they look at, so that you con continuously change the feed in mi and it keeps crawling and scrolling and get more and more information served.

[00:09:55] Martin Tomitsch: But of course, that also encourages unfortunately, addictive behavior. And so that's not very, Now we know that's not very good for the mental health of, for people's mental health. and so actually Aza, realizing that then later found that the Center for Humane Technology, I think it's called,and common detection, the effect that he realized that the things that are, that I intended to be good for the user actually ended up maybe being detrimental for them.

[00:10:22] and so that's one of the examples. Another example is a startup. Called you. it's a, there's a great, article, on a great article online published by a fast company magazine, documenting the startup. so apparently the story goes that the two founders started human center design at Stanford University.

[00:10:41] and in the final project they were looking at, the stigma of smoking or stigmas around smoking, and that they were using human centered design or design thinking. To find ways to, eliminate that stigma and to make smoking cool again. . And they created a business around that called hu and very successful, got investors.

[00:11:00] Martin Tomitsch: And, unfortunately though the way they targeted it, and I guess they deliberately used, advertising materials that made smoking very attractive to young people and actually, increased smoking in young people. So they developed this like products. So those are examples. Very Starks of course, I example of how humans design can lead to negative outcomes.

[00:11:24] something that, that I find interesting in those examples is the first example you gave around infinite scrolling. So it seems like the original intention of that was to increase ease of use, which is, the user would not have to wait for content to load or have to click a button or a link to go to the next page.

[00:11:46] Nirish Shakya: You just, you can just. Easily just keeps scrolling and the content just keeps on loading. so the original intention seems to be positive in a way that we are trying to make lives and easier for the user. whereas in the second example, it starts off with a, not so good intention in terms of you, that you probably don't wanna get people addicted to smoking, whether it's vape or whatever.

[00:12:08] But even then you start off with that,the bad intention, of getting people using these products. So where does, um, intentionality fit in here? The original intention and then. How do we even, for example, like I'm sure a lot of designers start off with the, a good intention of building products that they think are good for humans and then subsequently to the world, and it was on.

[00:12:36] It's only when later that all these unintended consequences start to pop up in the future. So where, where does our, responsibility lie in the present moment when we're designing something that we.

Where designer responsibility lies in the present moment

[00:12:54] Martin Tomitsch: Yeah. I think you're right in that those are two interesting examples because in the first example, there were, it was well intended. And often that's what we do as designers. We have well intended ideas and we do well in and made things and it. It was the unintended consequence that the designers hadn't foresee.

[00:13:12] and so I think for us as designers, we have a responsibility to think harder about what those unintended consequences might be. And there, in that case with infinite scroll, it only unfortunately became apparent when it was almost too late in a way because it's not everywhere. again, it's an extreme example, but unintended consequences almost in everything we do.

[00:13:34] Martin Tomitsch: So we signed decision, we make, encourages certain behavior or actions, and that might, those might have unintended consequences. In the second example, I guess you could argue that wasn't an unintended consequence. there, there's an unintended consequence in that, more, young people get addicted to smoking and that causes health issues down the track.

[00:13:54] But you could argue that founders knew that they were aware of that sort of went business. But the problem there was rather, a lack of diverse view points or diverse perspectives. So if they would've maybe brought other people along,as part of the team,and maybe looked at all the different perspectives and the different potential issues around their product and the campaign, the way the campaign, the products there might have realized that there were potential negative consequences that, that there would actually become detrimental to the company.

[00:14:29] So the company actually case

[00:14:36] way they

Tools for mapping out the unintended consequences of your designs 

[00:14:39] Nirish Shakya: so Martin, let's, take our mind back to when Azi Ruskin invented, the infinite scroll. and in hindsight, what could they have done at that moment in time to be more aware of some of the unintended consequences that particular, invention or product might be bring in, in, in the future.

[00:15:02] Martin Tomitsch: Yeah, so we, we have a, there are a number of tools and methods available that we can use to map out the unintended consequences. that of course to take time. So I think that's one of the challenges that, we make decisions very quickly and we have to work towards deadlines, and timelines and budgets, et cetera.

[00:15:19] But for example, one of the methods that, we also included in our book, which is called Design think, make, break, Repeat. It's a collection of 80 methods and in its second edition has a strong focus on life center design.

[00:15:33] Yeah. So one of the methods I con contributed actually by colleague from Queensland University of Technology here Australia, is called the Ripple Impact Cameras. It's a very simple cameras, that comes along with the. Still exercise, and some steps around how to, how do we identify and map out, what they call,the direct and interact,impacts, potential impacts that a design invention might have.

[00:15:59] And so you start with the design intervention center, and then you work yourself, your way outwards, to think about the potential ripples and the impacts. it's, it can be difficult if you have blank canvas, but it can be, for example, it can be combined with another method. It's also in a book, called systems mapping.

[00:16:17] And I think systems mapping is actually really important method when we talk about life center design because life center design part of that, the underlying, idea behind life or motivation behind life center design is that. we, the world is operating, in a, as a very complex system. Like it's a network.

[00:16:35] It's a very complex network. and so systems mapping, we can use to understand what that network looks like, in particular in relation to a design object or product or artifact application that we're working on. And so in, the infinite scroll example, that might have involved, for example, mapping out the different, the different, Applications that might be using infinite scroll, and how it might be used in the different applications.

[00:17:01] What, who different stakeholders are behind applications, what the motivations are, et cetera. So I'm not saying it could have been predicted that it would be misused in a way or used by social media platforms, because that's not necessarily how it was invented right at the beginning. just as I say, was trying to make it easier for users.

[00:17:18] So don't have to buttons, just keep, If we are engaging in these kinds of method designers, we develop more of a sensibility to what potential issues might be and an awareness about those issues. We can raise those potentially earlier.

[00:17:35] Yeah. And I guess not just the psychological issues in terms of things like addiction and so on, but also environmental issues. a lot of that, which, you've raised, in a lot of your writing as well. I just,read somewhere that, every Google search, costs the same amount of energy that it takes to light an l e d bulb for three minutes. as you can imagine, all the scrolls, every image, every video that is, loaded every time scroll must cost like a similar amount of.

[00:18:03] Martin Tomitsch: Yeah, and it's, it's a big problem in terms of digital consumption more widely. apparently there's some studies that suggested that the, carbon missions, from associated with digital consumption are actually higher than those associated with aviation. So all of air travel combined, and that's, that was done before the pandemic, those studies.

[00:18:24] so compared to the building industry for example, is still relatively small. I think it's around the 3.6% of all of the carbon missions, but it's growing really rapidly. That's the problem that we see this massive grace in, in the internet usage and also the usage of digital applications. In countries around the world.

[00:18:42] and so there's a whole movement around that area as well referred to a sustainable back design. so the call for considering using, smaller images,if possible using sustainable server farms, for example. and also doing things like, not having, an autoplay feature for video, for example.

[00:19:00] Martin Tomitsch: It's because video consumption, of course, is one of the bigger contributors when it comes to carbon emissions. Cause it's quite energy intensive and data intensive. And often you're on websites where you can see video commercials on a site that's just starting to play, for example, Or even the auto play feature on YouTube. Or a lot of people listening to music on YouTube, they're not actually watching the video, they're just listening to music. But, not realizing how much energy that's consuming and carbon emissions associated with.

[00:19:29] Nirish Shakya: It's funny you mentioned that, that cuz even us recording this podcast is causing energy. and even, the people listening to the podcast is also, causing an impact.

[00:19:39] Martin Tomitsch: podcast is better than watching TV or YouTube, I guess I should say. So actually we should encourage your listeners to, to listen more to your podcasts. But it's interesting they say that, for example, what did they say when on Zoom? Because of course there was all the pandemic very, more and more people started using Zoom.

[00:19:55] So we run flying, which was great, but in Zoom is using also a lot of energy. and I think there was a study that found that turning off your video on Zoom, saves, I think it was around 98% of carbon emissions. Compared to just having audio. which I think when, so when we te taught, taught our students during the pandemic years, a lot of students just turned off the video and it was a big, it was always a big, discussion amongst the educators.

[00:20:21] I know, do we force our students to turn on the video? But some of them might not have, like I know it might not have good enough internet connection, or there might be in a space where they'd wanna share a shared background, or they might have in my whole family maybe doing things behind them in the background as well, or their flatmates c and I was like using the excuse or telling my students, at least you're saving the environment by turning off your video.

[00:20:43] Nirish Shakya: That makes

[00:20:43] Martin Tomitsch: Sure. It's the reason why do it.

[00:20:46] when I teach, in a ux, online, one of the, I have a slide, for house rules is like, yeah, if you comfortable, please turn on your videos. I do encourage my students to turn the videos to get that more of an interactive field, but maybe I should start encouraging them to keep the videos off.

[00:21:00] Martin Tomitsch: See the, we do it is not realizing necessarily about the impact. And it's, it, we do that because it's not visible. we don't see what the impact is. as a user, we don't see that. And again, I think that's a responsibility for us as designer now can shifting the conversation from the user to designer to be more mindful about A, how these technologies are designed in the first place.

[00:21:21] And B, how we can also communicate some of that information to the user potentially. I wrote an article and on an article, A few months ago, we argued for, having a, a, planetary, health star rating for apps . So here in Australia we have a Health star rating for, I think it's an Australian, New Zealand, system.

[00:21:43] And so it's a, it's an opt-in system,manufacturers of produce don't have to use it, but, consumers like it, right? So when you buy your serial package, for example, it might say in a four outta five stars Health star rating or,so it's all, you can look at your chocolate bar, so like whatever you buy, and you can make a decision based on the star rating.

[00:22:02] And the argument I made was that maybe we need something similar for apps so that as it download an app from the app store, it actually tells me what the health star rating, the planetary health star rating is. And that star rating might be calculated based on the server farms they're using, based on how much energy that the operation is using.

[00:22:20] So things like auto play would be really bad for the writing, right? So it would encourage the developers of those apps not to have those, include those features. But it could also even include things like, ethical, considerations like whether, there was a user, whether there's use of modern slavery, for example,in the, involved in way in the making of the product.

[00:22:40] Nirish Shakya: Yeah, absolutely. I think that the first step, is awareness, right? Helping raise awareness of, what you are using and what impact it has. And then the choice is there for the consumer to either whether the consumers use it or stop using it. but I think awareness seems to be one of the key challenges, for us at the moment as an industry.

[00:23:02] so one of the things that I find fascinating by, we know is a lot of the work you're current doing is around, reframing the way we see our design decisions in terms of, for example, like I said, maybe discouraged people from turning on the videos. and that's something that, that's relevant to me because I used to work for a streaming TV company here in the uk and our goal as designers was.

[00:23:26] Nirish Shakya: Always make sure that people are watching TV

[00:23:28] Martin Tomitsch: Yeah.

[00:23:30] Nirish Shakya: right? And, we were basically pushing really hard to, get h full HD content on the platform. but now what you're saying is maybe I should have gone the other way in terms of encouraging users to scale down the, their resolution. Now, if I had, as a designer, if I had proposed that idea to my business stakeholders, they probably would've laughed at me.

[00:23:54] Martin Tomitsch: Probably, but the, I, I hope I, two things. I think there are ways of proposing these kinds of ideas so that don't become like maybe a, A feature that you could almost, the business could almost sell. the other, my other response would be that I feel that, so I don't know how many years ago it was, but I feel that things are also shifting and it been now real, that businesses are now realizing that consumers are becoming more aware of, of the impact,on the environment and about sustainable practices and that they're actually turning towards, businesses that have a, that are more sustainable and more transparent about their sustainable impact.

[00:24:30] And so I'm hoping that we will see an increasing shift over the next few years where more of a business will turn towards implementing these kinds of solutions. I really. maybe I'll give you two examples. So to the example of the HD where it's SD streaming, you could give that choice to the user, right?

[00:24:46] So the user might be able choose to watch SD carbon emission. So giving the user that choice rather than making the, a decision on behalf the user. Of course, a lot of people might still wanna have the HD experience and that's fine. the other, the other example, which is a really nice example, is actually Amazon's, in Amazon's shipping process.

[00:25:08] When you check out your products, they actually give you a choice whether you want to have each, if you're ordering multiple, items that you want to have all of the items. But if you wanna have each of the items delivered as soon as possible, or whether you're happy to wait for a few days and have them com arrive combined in the package.

[00:25:26] That is a design decision, right? that is something that designers have designed and, created as an interface to give the customer the choice, but it has a direct impact on the environment. In that case, of course, emissions associated with delivering the, the package, but also the packaging material itself, et cetera.

[00:25:44] Nirish Shakya: Yeah. And I guess it's also, you. Costs saving for the business as well to have to do less deliveries, as well. So maybe, it's not just a, something that's good for the environment but also maybe, helps business as well. Reduce costs.

[00:25:58] Martin Tomitsch: Yeah. and that's how I think how the designers could, make a difference if we are able to connect those, decisions and ideas about driving positive change with potential benefits for our business. I guess in a way, if you stream an SD that's also cost benefit, right? You're making better use of your existing server infrastructure and you can serve more users, on the same infrastructure.

[00:26:21] Nirish Shakya: Yeah.

[00:26:22] Martin Tomitsch: You could almost incentivize it. for a while. I don't know if that's still the case. For a while on iTunes, you paid less for SD shows, so you could download a show, you could buy a show, and you could decide to pay less and get in their quality, which I guess takes up less of their resources as well.

[00:26:37] So that's what it's selling it, that they're less lower cost.

[00:26:40] Nirish Shakya: Yeah. And that, that probably makes more sense, from a user's perspective. Cuz for example, if I'm paying, let's say, I dunno, 10 pounds months for my Netflix, I'll probably want to get the best out of it, in terms of squeeze every value out of it and wash everything in Ultra HD or 4k.

[00:26:57] whereas if I can get something in return for watching something in a, a standard definition or lower resolution, there's more incentive for me as user to use that.

[00:27:09] Martin Tomitsch: Absolutely. And I, I always say when I talk about these topics that you can never blame the user, right? Because the, as the customer, because they either are not aware of it, like the example with turning on your Zoom video or they don't have a choice, like the example with streaming in HD on Netflix.

[00:27:26] and so it is really the responsibility of the designers to make those decisions and to advocate for those decisions within the business or the organizations they're working for. and it's actually interesting, the idea of,the idea of sustainability. Being a responsibility of the customer is actually something that was fabricated by big corporations.

[00:27:47] so bp, actually, British Petroleum, popularized this idea of the carbon footprint. order to distract from their own dirty business and their own impact on environment. So they were saying they actually were running, advertising campaigns, saying, suggesting to customers to, to do their thing in order to reduce the carbon footprint.

[00:28:07] Martin Tomitsch: And they've actually the first ones to, even develop and publish a carbon footprint calculator. And it's a really clever marketing, strategy because they're distracting from their own wrongdoing and bad practices and putting, they're shifting their responsibility to the user and the customer and the pointing at us and going you are doing the wrong things.

[00:28:29] It's not our problem that you using all this

[00:28:31] petrol. Yeah, exactly. You buying all these things. So it's really, therefore, yes, we can do our share and our share of designers. We have much more power to.

[00:28:46] things we design and the integr interactions or products, amplified by the thousands because of the many people that end up using those products or interacting our applications.

Adding Responsbility to Desirability, Feasibility and Viability 

[00:28:58] Nirish Shakya: One thing that I saw in one of your recent articles you wrote was,the famous, Venn diagram that was, I think it was done by ieo, I

[00:29:05] Martin Tomitsch: It was popularized by idea. I don't know if they actually came up with it, but it's popular popularized, but I'm, yeah.

[00:29:10] Nirish Shakya: Where you have three circles, circle of desirability, the circle of feasibility and the circle of viability coming together.

[00:29:17] and you. We've always used these, those three circles to, design our products. and I've always to start with desirability first, like human dir and then now you have added circle, the of respons and sustainability. Could you tell about that?

[00:29:36] Martin Tomitsch: Yeah, it's, I mean it's, the original diagram is a date. It is a great diagram, right? It makes so much sense. And so that's, I think why it, became so and used, both in education, I think, and also in practice. it makes sense that. In order to come up with an innovation that is successful, you have to address all those three perspectives.

[00:29:57] so the new diagram, we are, the new model, that we suggesting is based on our research, on life center design, where we see, life center design as an approach to responsible innovation, what we call responsible innovation. And so we are suggesting that we add this fourth perspective around environmental and ethical values in order to capture the responsibility perspective.

[00:30:20] that means we have to, the human values, the disability, the technology perspective, the visibility and the business perspective in terms of liability complimented by. What is our responsibility or what is responsible to do in an environmental and ethical sense? Some people that have suggested, isn't it all about, responsibility?

[00:30:42] I know shouldn't that be part of technology and part of human values, But we feel it's really important to bring it out as a separate perspective in order to draw attention to it and to really emphasize that we have to start considering this perspective. And yes, you can have an innovation without it, but it's not gonna be in responsible innovation.

[00:31:00] Martin Tomitsch: And I would also argue that in the very near future, it won't be a successful innovation because customers will be looking for this responsibility perspective. And we are also are, we are also suggesting that designers actually are ideally positioned to be the custodians of this new perspective. So in a similar way, how we are arguing for the user or speaking up on behalf of the user in the design process, we can use the same tools and methods and also our skills in terms of bringing people together, synthesizing data, we can use those skills and abilities to also, represent the environmental and ethical perspectives.

Giving non-human stakeholders a voice in the design process

[00:31:42] Nirish Shakya: That's super fascinating. Cause

[00:31:45] I guess before, human centered design became a, a mainstream practice. technology was not really about humans, right? Computers were just there to, I do calculations or, whatever. But I guess designers back then didn't really think about, okay, how do we make this usable or user friendly to the general populace?

[00:32:06] and now what you're saying is that, we need to go beyond that in terms of how do we bring in these, uh, nonhuman stakeholders into the picture and give them a voice as well. Just like we gave all humans a voice back, in the seventies and eighties. Now, how do we start giving non-human stakeholders a voice in the design process?

[00:32:28] Nirish Shakya: Is that what you.

[00:32:29] Martin Tomitsch: Yeah, exactly. And I think, a lot of, a lot of us will probably remember the days before humans center design and before we had considered the human values and how, how badly designed in particular products, but many products were at the time. and maybe at the time it was just enough to have technology and the business perspective.

[00:32:46] And you can develop something and market it and people buy it. But then people started demanding for better usability and better experiences in a way that drove, the success of human center to design. Because comp companies realized it and started to turn to design in order to help them to design better experiences and deliver better experiences.

[00:33:06] And maybe it,it would be interesting to go back in time and,and be part of those initial conversations like the conversation we have here today. Now, , back then, I guess we didn't have podcasts, so it's not recorded. But, and listening to some of those conversations will be the first, designer started to suggest, Oh, how about we talk to the user?

[00:33:22] And we could capture the perspectives of the users and bring them into the design process. And it, it might have, it probably sounded crazy at the time, and it probably had a lot of pushback for a long time. I remember at a time when there were still struggles and,to actually advocate for it, this idea of,of human centeredness and experience design.

[00:33:41] and I do believe that we at a point where we are seeing the same thing happening within environmental and ethical values. and so that's really the planet as a bigger system, as a ecosystem. and that includes

[00:33:56] Martin Tomitsch: natures.

[00:34:08] Nirish Shakya: And I think that's a great segue into the next thing I wanted to, ask you about, which is non-human personas. Now, this is not something that I've come across very often in my career as a designer or even as a design educator. What are non-human personas and how do you.

What are non-human personas and how you create them

[00:34:28] Martin Tomitsch: Yeah, so it's when we started thinking about life center design, we,and working on that second edition of our book design, Think, make, break, Repeat, we, we were looking for methods we could include in that second edition that would support life center design. And so one of our core authors on that book, that's 11 of us on the second edition, had, one of our core authors had done.

[00:34:50] Some work on animal personas as part of her PhD research. so she was doing some research on urban farming, like having, for example, urine, like backyard chickens. And so she was doing some research on how,how people were, engaging these kinds of urban farming practices. And as part of the process created animal personas for the chickens.

[00:35:11] And so partly based on that, we, started developing this idea of non-human personas. And, we then ran a small, design research project with one of my colleagues, troll Freds and. One of our research students here where we also, empirically tested at method. and it's essentially based on human persona in terms of,the basic structure of how it works.

[00:35:34] But of course, we can't go out and interview chickens or other animals or,or life forms, non-human life

[00:35:40] Nirish Shakya: Not

[00:35:40] Um, not yet. No. We might be able do that one day. and it can also be. Tricky to or danger even to go and observe them, right? yes, we could observe, them in the natural environment, but we might actually negatively, interfere with their natural environment and therefore maybe damage their natural ecosystem.

[00:35:59] Martin Tomitsch: And so there,what we're suggesting is that we can either therefore draw on secondary literature, do we have a better understanding by reading reports? so for example, our research project here focused on urban parklets and, how we could design parklets, which are small urban interventions where you might have something like an, charging station and the bench to sit down and there some light.

[00:36:22] How we could design that for both human users and non-human users and specifically focus on possums, which are native animals and native species. That is, quite common here in urban locations in, in, in Australia. and so you can either, we can either collect information from second, from reports, a secondary data, or again, using our skills as designers.

[00:36:44] We could go out and interview, specialists, biologists, people working with these life forms or, um,having a deeper understanding and collecting the data and then bringing that. Representing that data, synthesizing that data in the form of non personas. we actually developed a whole framework around this, which we call middle out, a middle out design framework.

[00:37:06] It's based on one of my colleagues PhD research with the idea that we bring stakeholders from the bottom, like community groups for example, together with, stakeholders from the top, like the government that might be responsible for regulations, and then we can interview representatives from those in to form fuller of that, and then that actual persona artifact that we can then keep using in our design process.

[00:37:34] Nirish Shakya: Now, a question for me as a designer is, for example, with human personas, we capture their needs and goals, and jobs to be done, which if we were to help them meet, we'll in turn, help the business.

How non-human personas help the business

[00:37:50] Nirish Shakya: Now, how does that work with non-human personas and capturing their needs and goals? Do they have to directly then bend for the business, or is it a totally different way to look at these personas in terms it's not just about the business, but it's about something.

[00:38:07] Martin Tomitsch: We have a template that comes with our method,which is also available for free on our companion website. and I'm sure we can include a link in the notes, for listeners. It's based on the template, but we have, we have slightly different categories. So for example,if remember is correctly now we have something like, their, the habitat, information about the habitats or where the species, would normally, live in the natural environment and what makes it environment special.

[00:38:31] We have things like, what the food sources are because it might be important for, particular design interventions and information such as, what particular stresses are. So what are things that would negatively affect them? What are some of the challenges, which I guess is what we call pain points, in the human personas?

[00:38:50] a point that has been made in the research and in, in various research and that we also adopted is, that we are not, we're using a third person, describing that nonhuman persona, which is different to human personas in a way where you first,

[00:39:08] Martin Tomitsch: that is based on

[00:39:17] lens.

[00:39:19] And how much is there a danger of bias, towards, again, human needs? where we are basically trying to understand the needs of these non-human stakeholders just to benefit us as humans and not really. Benefit them.

Risk of bias towards human needs

[00:39:37] Martin Tomitsch: Yeah, I think that's a really dangerous, aspect of I guess any persona really, that you can bring bias in. And I guess you can do the same with human personas that you can. that's also, we need to acknowledge that it's designers. We always have this bias. So the way I would write up a human persona based on the data that is collected, maybe if I give you the same data, you would write up a different persona because we all bring our own cultural framing and bias in a way to doing that synthesis.

[00:40:04] So the way, what we suggesting in order to overcome that bias is to have, diverse teams that are working together, in order to eliminate the bias as much as possible. it always difficult of course, to, or unintended talking about unintended consequences. Of course, there's a risk so that business businesses might be misusing, tools like non member personas for their own benefits or on purposes.

[00:40:26] The first time I encounted, this idea of designing for nonhuman was when we created an urban, installation.

[00:40:33] So a lot of my research, especially the past decade was around urban interaction design. So we designed an intervention where we turned and apin into, A, a gamified experience. So in order to, to address the issue of littering in cities, when you play, when you put rubbish into the bin, essentially blame te on the bin itself.

[00:40:53] So bin was wrapped in an screen,as a playful intervention. And the, the, did a field study of that project in a university campus. And, in order to measure actually would reduce littering in an environment. And one morning when there was, on my way to work,I got a distressed phone call from the campus, operations team saying that ISIS had attacked the bins and pulled out all the rubbish from the bins

[00:41:21] So they were doing the opposite rather than putting stuff into the bin. There were of course using their pigs to pull stuff out of the bins.

[00:41:28] Nirish Shakya: to our, um, non Australian listeners, IBUs are these, um, birds that tend to, basically, eat from bins in Australia,

[00:41:38] Martin Tomitsch: That's an example that maybe listeners might go I'm not gonna design a playful urban intervention. But I think a, a stakeholder, a non-human stakeholder that we all had to deal with in the last two years, is the coronavirus, right?

[00:41:55] And so you could equally use the non-human persona order to represent the coronavirus. And also, identify things like how does it operate? Where does it leave? How does it spread? What are stresses? what are, what does it wanna do? What, how does it, how does it connect with other,other stakeholders?

[00:42:15] And then, looking at how that would affect your business or the products you're designing, in your organization or for organizations you're working with. this is an idea actually that was published by, originally by someone else, Monica Snell. She wrote a great article about this topic. And,we, we actually now part of a new group called the, uh, the Life Center Design Collective that we recently launched.

[00:42:38] So I connected with some people across the world that are working life center design. and so we're trying to bring resources together that be each individual I've been working and make them available for the design community.

[00:42:51] Nirish Shakya: That sounds super fascinating. so we will, put again, links to, all these resources, including the Life Center Design Collective, if you are interested in check it out, and, maybe even joining it. so Martin, one of the things that you've mentioned is around how, as designers we should think of ourselves as not just, being hire.

[00:43:10] By the client or even by the user, but as being hired by future generations. Now this is something mind blowing to me. I can't even, picture this or understand this properly in my head in terms of What did you mean by being hired by future generations?

Thinking of ourselves as being hired by future generations

[00:43:28] Martin Tomitsch: Yeah, so I think it was, uh, Mike Monero, who wrote in his book, Ruined By Design. he made a,point about how. When he's design agency engages in design work to make it very clear to the client that even through the hire by the client, they're really hired by the client to represent their users or customers.

[00:43:50] And so we are what we, what I'm suggesting is that, that we need to extend this framing to, to this notion that we as designers are really responsible for the wellbeing of future generations. And the reason we are suggesting this is that it encourages long term thinking. So rather than just thinking about the next quarter, or how can I quickly make, a lot of money with this quick idea or app or product, thinking about, okay, what does this mean for future generations?

[00:44:22] this is an idea that,it's something that I've been thinking along about for a while. There's a framework called cathedral thinking. which is something that I've used in the past,in my research and write some of writings and also, organizing a symposium a few years ago, to celebrate our, schools, centenary.

[00:44:40] Martin Tomitsch: And so the idea of cathedral thinking is a, is based on the notion that back in the, during the medieval times when an architect would start designing the first plans for cathedral, they would know that during that they wouldn't be alive, but a time the cathedral would be finished because it would take a cathedral hundred or more years to be actually built.

[00:45:05] And so they had to create those plans in a way so that they would. They would, conti, they would go beyond their own life in a way, and they would serve future generations. And the way that Cathedral was built would serve future generations. it's also this idea of long term thinking is also, if anyone is interested learning more about this, I can highly recommend the book called Good Ancestor by, I hope I pronounce this correctly, but Roman Kurtz Marriage.

[00:45:34] and I think it subtitles something like How to Think Long Term in the Short Term World. And, one of the examples he gives his, this idea of the Seventh Generation Principle, which is something that, made, First Nations people use. so he's drawing on the First Nation knowledge in the, in America.

[00:45:54] And,so generation principle essentially, is used in order, by First Nations to evaluate any decision they make. So any decision they make, they assess it in terms of like, how will, what does this mean for seven generations from now? So it's, and it's something that I think we really not been very good at as designers.

[00:46:17] Martin Tomitsch: Think about the long impact our actions. So we trying, and that's the new

[00:46:26] find ways for that design practice.

[00:46:32] Nirish Shakya: Wow. that sounds like a pretty, powerful shift in a mindset in terms of thinking more long term. I can see that, being done a lot in, designers who, who are working in the futures and foresight studies. a lot of designers, are designing for the short term future, and not for generations down the line.

[00:46:51] so for most of us designers who are working for, for next year, or two years time, how do we think about the future generations when, our goal is pretty much, to how do we get people to click on that button, next, next.

[00:47:06] Martin Tomitsch: I mean, every, every comp, Every company, organization would have, or should have, at least something like a 10 year strategy. So companies already designed in the way to have that, at least midterm thinking, even if it's not long term thinking. And so they, I think that's where we as designers start getting more involved in what, we also refer to as strategic design.

[00:47:31] So how, using design methods in order to help. Define the strategy, a company's organization strategy, and pushing it in the in, in the right, in the, in a particular direction, but it's the right direction, not can be discussed. and also,using our skills in a way to, to influence.

[00:47:50] What direction that strategy might go in. using our skills in order to drive and lead positive change within organizations. And that can be very subtle. And because I,I realized that this sound could, might sound a bit overwhelming and people go Oh, how do I do that? and where do we start?

[00:48:09] But it's about, for us, it's about making these 1% changes. the new book we're working on, which is addressing this, these kinds of topics, it's, I'm coauthoring the book together with, Steve Baty from Mel Studios. So we're excited about that. he and I both gave a

[00:48:37] several a time. And I think it was one of your previous speakers in this podcast series, maybe it was Ben who said something like, We underestimate how much we can do in 10 years, but we always estimate how much we can do in one year, but we underestimate how much we can in intend do in 10, 

[00:48:55] achieve in 

[00:48:55] Nirish Shakya: Band package.

[00:48:57] Martin Tomitsch: And so I think it's, that's a really great quote. And I think we've said 1% change. If we do have 1% change over 10 years, that will have a huge impact. And for me, the way, I guess I practice that myself. I guess to some extent I practice that in my organization, the university trying to change or drive positive change, but it's also through education, teaching the next generation of designers.

[00:49:20] For me, that's also 1% change in a way, if I can. We just give, I don't know if it just can change my students in, want to think 1% differently and if they start out going out and doing that work and they drive change or tell others about it or influence others to also drive the change that could have a huge amplifying impact over a 10 year period.

[00:49:42] Nirish Shakya: Yeah. The power of thinking big, but acting small.

[00:49:48] Martin Tomitsch: That's it. Exactly. That's it. Yeah.

[00:49:49] so when we, try to design for the future, especially, so far down the future, there is so much uncertainty that we have to deal with and manage. And uncertainty comes with a lot of anxiety, both at a personal level and at an organizational level. what are some of your, you know, biggest, um, tips when it comes to dealing with this anxiety, both at a level and also organizational?

Managing the personal and organisational anxiety that comes uncertainty

[00:50:17] Martin Tomitsch: I actually talk a lot about that when I talk to my students or run sessions around design, and design thinking. I guess we still call it design thinking. for me that's one of the great benefits of using design as a way of thinking, using design as a mindset that it gives us the ability to deal with uncertainty.

[00:50:35] I think design is a really great at dealing with uncertainty. I can see that also again in my environment, the university. I feel like, being, being a trained designer and at design educator, I feel that gives me often the ability to feel comfortable with uncertainty by knowing. by, by knowing that there, there is a way out of that uncertainty.

[00:51:03] and by knowing that you can always, you can connect dots in different ways or you can apply different kinds of methods in order to just try something out. And if it doesn't work you, that's a mindset that know we don't. The first.

[00:51:29] Nirish Shakya: so the whole concept of failing fast, failing off and testing those risks early,at a smaller scale seems to be the key here as designers.

[00:51:40] Martin Tomitsch: Yeah, I think that's a good way to deal with uncertainty. Yeah. and that's also true when it comes to business and product innovation more broadly. we are always dealing with lots of uncertainties. And the best way,to, to do that is by doing small quick experiments. I think it was Edison maybe who said, that success depends on how many experiments you can fit into 24 hours.

[00:52:05] Something like that. The quote was, and that's because the more experiments you do, the more uncertainties you can eliminate. And the more you, the better you know where you're going. and so there's some great diagrams like the design,this Google, I think it's called the design squiggle, which is this diagram that has a lot of messiness at the beginning.

[00:52:22] which is the, that's the area where we feel uncertain. We feel anxiety. And there studies, that occur back decades where, researchers found that when we feel stressed, when we feel anxious, what happens in our brain is that we actually shutting down our creative thinking capabilities.

[00:52:42] Martin Tomitsch: And that's the wrong thing, because when you own this messiness, you need to think creatively. And so again, that's why design as a mindset and this idea of doing lots of just trusting this process, of doing lots of experiments quickly can really help us to make sure. Our brain isn't shutting down because we feel anxious and stressed and that we are able to deal with those uncertainties.

[00:53:05] Nirish Shakya: I spoke with, Kate Pinco, who's a design leader and a coach here based in the uk. and that was the first episode, No, sorry, not that was the second episode of,Design Feeling Podcast, where she talked about how she actually. Uses the lean loop, methodology of, build me, learn on herself.

[00:53:22] So she creates these little experiments, that she can try out on, on her own life to see if that actually reduces some of the uncertainty, and anxieties that, that might come with it. and I think that seems to be a key theme in terms of reduce those anxieties by conducting experiments.

[00:53:42] Get,

Using conversations as prototype

[00:53:46] Yeah, absolutely. And, and often that can just be a, cuz we talk about prototypes, right? But a prototype can be many things. It doesn't have to be a paper prototype or a Figma prototype. and there's this great course coming out of Stanford called, Design Your Life. There's was a book, called Design Life based on that course.

[00:54:04] Martin Tomitsch: And the, the facilitators, of the instruc of that course used this idea of using, talk about this idea of using conversations as a prototype. Which I really like. So any conversation we have with someone becomes a prototype. And so that's how you can prototype your life, right?

[00:54:21] a conversation with someone about what you might do or you thinking about doing, whether it's tomorrow or next year or in 10 years time.

[00:54:29] And by talking about it, it becomes a prototype that you can test in a way. and I, it, I think it really changed reading that really changed. My, the way I think about conversations, I think intuitively if I was been doing that, but now I'm more conscious than maybe doing that, that if I'm not quite sure about something, I try to have a conversation with someone and see how it feels.

[00:54:49] and now we think I do is like a conversation. And actually I heard an interview that Steve Chop seems have done that as well, that he would always like have, like if he was thinking about something, he would go to people at Apple and start a conversation about it and it might be completely different conversation the next time might, he might chop the idea, but was for him, I think a of testing out different ideas in his head before the income product prototypes.

[00:55:16] Martin Tomitsch: Yeah. Yeah.

[00:55:18] hey, the conversation we're having right now could be a prototype that

[00:55:21] it's totally prototype. for me it's prototype, for the book that Steve and I are working on. every target, if anybody is not prototype, because I'm testing out these ideas. I'm seeing how to resonate with the audience, what questions I get. and sometimes there say things I guess that turn seem to land and then scenario, okay, I've gone in the wrong direction and you need to pull it back maybe.

[00:55:42] Martin Tomitsch: And sometimes the things that we land,

[00:55:43] Nirish Shakya: yeah. And there's nothing wrong with that, that is part of the process to see where it takes you and then you can always revert back and go some other direction. Martin, tell us about this book you're writing with Steve.

[00:55:55] so we don't have a working title yet for it. Um, we have a number of working titles, and we are still, also we're talking to a potential publisher, so we don't have too many details about it yet. but the backstory was that Steve gave a talk at UX Australia, about. about the contemporary practice of design and where design as a field might be heading.

[00:56:17] and talking also about the responsibility of us designers, the behalf. in order to address the big, the big challenges of our time, like the climate crisis. at the same conference I was giving a talk, about, non-human personas and other tools, UX tools, for a post pandemic world.

[00:56:35] Martin Tomitsch: And so we, we decided to combine the thinking behind those two different talks to, to write a book for designers. specifically writing, and talking to your ex designers because that's the domain in which both Steve and I operating. but drawing on things like service design and systems design and life center design in order to, In order to capture, tactics that designers can start using in the day to day practice, in order to drive positive change within the organizations and we see it, we wanted to both be an optimistic.

[00:57:12] I count, like an optimistic account of the world because there are a lot of books, including Michael, who written by design that are, that are very much about the m and the world. But we wanted to be an optimistic a, something that people can actually use and start applying in order to affect change.

[00:57:33] And we also wanted to be very bottom up so that you don't need your boss to approve it, you don't need to wait for your company to make the first step, but that you, as a designer, you can start implementing some of these simple tools, whether it's systems mapping, or not even personas, or any of the design methods that will, I

[00:57:57] think

[00:58:02] design it to be all doing.

[00:58:05] Nirish Shakya: Nice. I'll definitely look out for this book, uh, once you've got that out, out, uh, in the world. 

Win a signed copy of Martin's book Design, Think, Make, Break, Repeat

[00:58:10] Nirish Shakya: Okay, so Martin would like to give away two copies of his book design, Think, make, break, Repeat, to two of our listeners. we'll have a think about how we can organize this. we know we'll probably put some more details in the show notes, but keep, look at for that in your show notes in terms of how you can really, a copy of Martin's book is, or

[00:58:33] we'll give away physical

[00:58:35] Nirish Shakya: oh, a proper book, hopefully can get signed as well by the author

[00:58:39] Martin Tomitsch: That should be possible. , we can probably arrange that. maybe not all 11 authors, because like I said, they're 11 of us. which, but the main author, I'm sure it can organize that. but the fact that there are 11 also I think makes this also a really valuable, resource and almost a transdisciplinary design methods book.

[00:58:58] We have all these different perspectives coming together. yeah.

[00:59:01] Nirish Shakya: Awesome. so Martin, what's the one thing that you would tell your young, younger self as a designer?

What Martin would tell his younger self as a designer 

[00:59:09] maybe to what I was, we were just talking about, this idea of we keep prototyping, different ideas and not being too worried about getting things wrong.

[00:59:19] Nirish Shakya: Love it. And what's the one thing that pisses you off as a designer, as a professor, as an author, or as a human?

what's the one thing that pisses you off as a designer, as a professor, as an author, or as a human?

[00:59:30] um, that's a, it's a very strong word. something that piss me off. something that, something that annoys me. I don't know. I, it's some people that talk about things that they don't know enough about, but they talk about it as if they are experts in it. And that's unfortunately often the case with design thinking because it's becomes a popular, And also it's, people often go Oh yeah, design.

[00:59:56] that's easy. Yeah. We know that. I've read an article about design thinking, so I'm an expert in it. and so that, I find that frustrating sometimes.

[01:00:05] Nirish Shakya: And imagine it's your last day on Earth and someone came up to you with a tiny piece of paper and asked you, Martin, please write down your last few words and we will put it up on a massive billboard for the whole world to see. What would you write that down? What? Write down on the tiny piece of paper.

[01:00:29] Martin Tomitsch: I guess my first question would be, do we need another billboard, and do I want to contribute to having more billboards in the world?

[01:00:38] Nirish Shakya: All right, let's scratch the billboard. Let's just have the tiny

[01:00:41] the message, I'm not sure I have done enough yet to earn that billboard space, to be honest. I feel maybe we should have this conversation again in 10 years time and hopefully I'm hoping I would have had, had an impact that I can earn that deeply about space.

[01:00:57] Martin Tomitsch: I feel I might not have it yet. And so actually what I would like to do with that piece of paper is I probably, I'd like to get some talking about diverse perspectives, try to get some other people together, that represent diverse perspectives and put a message together that we share with the world.

[01:01:15] Nirish Shakya: Wow. That's like the first guest that I've interviewed that has not answered that question straightforward. But 

[01:01:23] Martin Tomitsch: going to takea design collaboration approach to it. so we'll

[01:01:28] we, we dunno what's going come out of it, but I guess that's a design process, right? We never know what comes out.


[01:01:36] Nirish Shakya: Absolutely. Great. Thank you so much for the Martin. I'm gonna just do a quick recap of our conversation. and we started off by talking about how, as designers we tend to make a lot of design decisions that might, have unintended consequences in the future. we specifically use the example of the infinite scroll and how now it's causing so many problems in terms of getting people addicted to,just constantly scroll.

[01:02:02] endlessly on different, internet pages. we also talked about how,we can bring in more intentionality into that practice by, for example, encouraging, maybe users to turn up their Zoom videos so that there can, save energy. and a lot of times this is not the user's fault, although, big corporations might have trained as a thing that it is the user's responsibility.

[01:02:26] it is also the responsibility of the maker, and the builder to actually, make it easier for users to do to do the right thing. and. Just as we started speaking up for the humans in the design process with humans center design, what you're saying now is we, it's time for us to start speaking of non-humans speaking on behalf of non-humans in our processes and giving them that voice.

[01:02:51] Nirish Shakya: And this is where a lot of the work that you've been doing around life center design, comes into play. especially the whole concept of non-human personas, which I find super fascinating. Uh, and how, you know, we can start to build some of these artifacts using, secondary data, or even direct research with specialists who deal with those non-human personas, whether that be, for example, animals, plants, the environment.

[01:03:18] Uh, go and speak to these people who know more about this and collect that data. from those. and one of the ways you could eliminate, the potential bias that can, occur in these artifacts is to,rely on diversity. Make sure that your teams are diverse enough to, bring in different perspectives into these personas to make sure that,all, perspectives are catered for.

[01:03:40] and as designers, if you feel as if there's so much work here and where do I even start, starts more, make that one. Percent change that you can make today, while still keeping the big vision in mind. how do we think big, but act small? and when you are on this journey, things can seem really uncertain.

[01:04:01] and when things are uncertain, we tend to stop ticking action because, that's what we do, right? We either fight, flight, or freeze. but, a way to, manage that uncertainty is, and again, going back to our core mindset and principle as designers, which is to test small, test those small uncertainties and risks to increase your confidence as to what the outcome in the future might be.

[01:04:26] and yeah, even something as small as a convers. Can be a prototype that you can learn from and test your ideas with. So really powerful,topics there that we talked about today. Martin, thank you so much for sharing your insights, your experience, your wisdom that you've collected along the way.

[01:04:44] I've learned loads and I'm sure like, whoever's listening right now has done the same as well.

[01:04:49] thank you again for having me, and thank you for inviting to be part of this great podcast. And, also thanks for allowing me to prototype some of my ideas together with you and with your listeners.

[01:05:01] Nirish Shakya: Amazing. So, Martin, if, people wanna find you, online after this episode, how can they do that?

[01:05:09] I'm on LinkedIn. Instagram and Twitter. Twitter, I do very short updates, usually around research and events, Twitter, LinkedIn. I usually do more reflective pieces, and also share some of the articles I'm writing. I'm usually trying these days to have a more accessible, short article based on our research papers, to make them available to a broader audience.

[01:05:32] and Instagram I realized is really, my Instagram is really a collection of, book covers guys here in Australia. And, my dogs

[01:05:44] Martin Tomitsch: Nice , butso if you're interested, any of those, you can follow me on Instagram

[01:05:51] Nirish Shakya: but I'm assuming you keep your video videos to them to a minimum to reduce your footprint.

[01:05:55] Martin Tomitsch: Yeah, no videos, just pictures.

[01:05:58] Nirish Shakya: And make sure don't, uh, send, um, Martin, you know, massive videos orlong emails. make sure you keep it very short and very thoughtful. but not just kidding. Just, yeah, reach out to Martin if you need to. . Great. Awesome. Thank you so much for the Martin, and uh, we will see you again soon.

[01:06:15] Martin Tomitsch: Thanks. News.

[01:06:16] Nirish Shakya: Thank you so much for joining us in this chat. if you are enjoying listening to the Design Feeling podcast, please do consider leaving an honest review on Apple Podcasts. It'll really help get this podcast out to more people. And please do share the podcast with a Design Thinking friend who could benefit from these conversations. See you next time.